Please read Luke 7:36-50
“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39
This is a very well-known Scripture whose narrative highlights a woman who appeared at a house where Jesus was being hosted. Upon entering, this woman fell at His feet and broke an expensive bottle of perfume. She then went on to anoint Jesus while wiping the Lord’s feet with the tears she shed in His presence. Quite a spectacle! But in this “over the top” display, Jesus found some rich soil into which to plant His wisdom. From this Jesus encounter, we too as missionaries can discover the lessons it teaches us all with regards to equality before God.
This narrative reminds us all that even during Christ’s earthly ministry there abounded many of the same illegitimate divisions that man far too often fosters and advances on others for our own positional advantage. These divisions…material, economic, social and even spiritual, are all fully on display before the Lord in Luke 7, even as they are before us all today. Yet Christ still instructs us all to grasp some eternal truths and lessons that can help propel us all toward true “equality before God.”
Lesson #1: We Must Begin With the Right Posture
The woman’s posture is unique among those gathered that evening. This humble posture of kneeling before Jesus highlights that each of us, like the woman kneeling before Jesus, are equal before God in our need for a Savior who can look past the hurts we do to one another (and ourselves!) and forgive us and redeem us. A recurring theme throughout Scripture is highlighted for us in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This woman’s prayerful, humble posture was a spiritual declaration that we each are in equal need of Christ’s reconciling and restorative ministry. Prayer in Greek is “prosueche” (pro-suke-a), which literally means “towards one’s face.” Prayer is less about our litany of “asks” or “demands” for the Lord to fix the ills that are so pervasive about us, and more about our posture, and where and to whom our face is turned. Her “face” was focused upon Christ, and her posture reinforces the truth that our equality before God will always begin humbly in His presence. It is here, aware of our far too often contributions to the ills about us and grateful to a Lord who always welcomes the humble into His presence, where God’s best work is accomplished. May our prayers are we always seek to adopt and model the correct posture before the Lord and we make His presence a non-negotiable when it comes to sharing in His reconciling work in our division-laden world! As missionaries, we can bring the aroma of peace, grace, and hope!
Lesson #2: We Can Foster Wholeness Through Brokenness
An expensive bottle is broken. A waste? An extravagance? Simply one gift among many? The lesson this broken vessel teaches us all is that gratitude and brokenness will always go together. Together they inspire in the believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, true sacrifice and service that God recognizes. (Romans 12:1-2) And just as important, a sacrifice He can use. In the vernacular of the day, this woman at Jesus’ feet was the only one present “woke” enough to be broke enough. The bottle she broke before Christ was symbolic of her recognition that personal brokenness is the gateway to being made whole. Our various nations’ need for wholeness and equality will only appear when broken people, made whole in Christ, powerfully testify and demonstrate Christ’s restorative work. Our responses of gratitude, service and sacrifice towards others and for Christ should always propel us each to direct attention to the Lord and the wholeness He came to make possible.
Lesson #3: We Are Invited To Change The Atmosphere
The perfume was for Jesus, but the act of anointing His feet had an impact beyond just the Lord. Everyone present was impacted. It changed the entire atmosphere of the environment and it impacted everyone who was around. It impacted even the detractors and those who just didn’t understand. Yet, it still impacted them! May that be our testimony. May people see and experience our acts of service unto the Lord and may our impacts of ministry seeking the welfare and dignity of every soul change the atmosphere and ultimately, the lives of those we in the NAAMC Community have committed ourselves to serve.
Jesus’ encounter, recorded for us in Luke 7 serves to remind each of us that even though men and women are equally created in God's image, our separation from Him makes us all equally in need of His redeeming intervention. For those that have equally partaken of His amazing forgiveness and offered grace, it is to them then who are equally gifted by God's Spirit for service in bringing all to Jesus where true equality can be experienced.
I. May we each position ourselves before the Lord, in humility and thanksgiving, and share in His continuing ministry that all may equally receive forgiveness, healing, and grace in their time of need. We pray that our focus is on Jesus and not on focusing on our missionary jobs or responsibility. Help us to be humble in whatever country we are living in.
II. We pray that we who have been made whole by Christ's presence, will not forget the brokenness we have experienced and the wholeness of soul and spirit we have equally experienced through Christ.
III. May the presence of Christ ever before us in our lives and missionary ministry service, ever propel us to “change the atmosphere” of our marriages, families, societies, and nations as we pursue His desire for all to equally experience heaven’s grace.