“In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee’s house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them.” Luke 7:37-38 GNT
Imagine the journey of this woman. Although, she had probably seen and heard of His teachings, miracles, and care for the broken, most likely she had only gotten to admire Jesus from a distance. She very likely was impacted at some point by His unwavering love for those judged by society, the downtrodden, and less fortunate. For she was one of those “unreachable” people He seemed to seek out. “A sinful woman, rejected by her society and the religious.”
Until her personal encounter with Jesus, the only God she knew was the one she seen in the faces of the Pharisees, looking down on her, not to lift her up, but to judge and shame her. However, this encounter with Jesus was different. His gaze did not condemn her, even though, those eyes of His told her that He knew everything about her. How could He know everything and still look at her with such love and compassion, she must have wondered. This was the day she met mercy and mercy won her over. She would never be the same because mercy triumphed over judgement in her life. She knew her past was gone and her life would be forever changed.
This encounter made her believe that no cost was too great to offer to the One who had extended such love and compassion to her. It gave her the ability to look at the cost of running into that house and breaking that jar of ointment for Jesus, and counting it worthy of the cost. She could be rejected, beaten, scorned, as she was, even killed for such an act. Yet, the mercy she had encountered made her know she could do no less. Her broken jar of oil poured on Jesus was her act of gratitude. It was her offering of worship, but also her response to mercy’s kiss.
She silently washed his feet with her perfume, and tears. Her gratitude was manifesting through the salt of her tears and the act of such personal sacrifice. For she knew she was loved. She knew she was at home for the first time in her life. The voices of shame held no power over her for mercy had her captivated with gratitude. No one forced her to be grateful this day. Gratitude was the result of the mercy she had experienced. She knew who she was without Him, but she was beginning to see who she really was because of Him. Forgiven and free.
We can read of her story and think, oh how wonderful. But there are only two responses here. The Pharisee who judges and rejects mercy. Or the woman who received mercy and watches it triumph over judgement. The life that remembers mercy is grateful. The life that forgets is ungrateful and becomes judgmental. I remember who I was before Jesus, when I did not know His gaze that would change my life forever. I have been kissed by mercy. I am not the same. Yet, I know there have been times when I have lost sight of how much I really have been rescued from. In those moments, ingratitude begins to surface, and the Pharisee in me finds its place.
I know I am not unlike most. Mercy must be kept in front of us if we are to keep the heart in a place of gratitude. The amazing thing is, that once mercy is understood, gratitude overflows, then mercy begins to also be the type of road we choose when dealing with others. Let’s be people of mercy, for we have been recipients of a mercy we truly did not deserve. This without a doubt is a reason to be grateful.
Today I am grateful for mercy. I can tell you by experience, mercy does really triumph over judgement. The life that has known mercy and remembered it, will be a grateful life.