How would you explain the word “love”? Would it be something along the lines of caring for a family member or a really close friend? Maybe when you think of “love” you think of the relationship between sweethearts or a husband and wife. Maybe you would say that you love ice cream, or a certain movie. You might even say, “I love this song!” In all of these instances, love doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning or definition. Sometimes, when I really want to get a very deep understanding of a word I’ll look it up in the dictionary.
I looked up the definition of the word “love” on the online Webster’s Dictionary, and of course, there were 50+ results and I started thinking, “How can there be so many different meanings for a four-letter word?” Well, I didn’t have to look too far to find the exact meaning I needed to find. The definition listed first is the one that primarily comes to my mind when someone mentions the word:
- “Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” or “affection and tenderness felt by lovers”
Then I saw the fourth definition on the list and this was it:
- “The fatherly concern of God for humankind” or “a person’s adoration of God”
I was reading in Luke 7: 36-39 and 44-47 when I decided to look up this definition. This is the story of the woman that washed Jesus’ feet with the ointment and her tears. What is so awesome about this story is that she is demonstrating this exact definition. She is showing adoration. Let’s read the first part of the passage, verses 36-39.
There are so many things that stick out to me about what this woman did. First, she took something that was so valuable and used it for someone else. Then, she washed His feet, not only with the expensive ointment, but also with her tears and her hair. I Corinthians 11:15 talks about how a woman’s hair is her glory. She was essentially laying down her glory in order to wash His feet.
When this passage says that she is a “sinner” it means that she is a harlot. She had nothing left that was valuable except her hair. She couldn’t glory in her purity, because that was gone. She didn’t have a good reputation because of how she chose to live her life. She didn’t even have a good name – she was known as “the sinner”. She took the only two valuable possessions that she had left and she used them for Jesus.
Now let’s look at the other portion of this passage starting in verse 44 and ending with verse 47.
Here is a thought: Truly loving someone never just involves words; true love requires heartfelt actions and genuine motives. Here is an illustration.
Imagine, after waiting for what feels like a lifetime you finally meet Prince Charming. Just imagine he is just absolutely perfect. He is tall, dark, and handsome. He is brilliant, sweet, and funny. He is strong and athletic and incredibly talented. He can sing and play twelve instruments (okay that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get the picture).
You and Prince Charming started dating in college and he was just beyond sweet. He wrote you letters all the time, even though you both saw each other every day. He took you out to your favorite restaurant for no special occasion. He always remembered all the special anniversaries – when you first started “talking”, when you went on your first date, when he called your dad to ask for permission to date you, when he first said he loved you – all the important ones. He never forgot your birthday or your half-birthday and he celebrated both just the same. He always bought you your favorite candy when he saw it in the store. He got you Starbucks every day (amen, ladies?) and had them write cute little notes on the cup for you. He wrote you songs and played them on each of his many instruments. He even watched chick-flicks with you and pretended to hate them, when you knew he actually thought they were kind of cute. He always told you that you were beautiful even when you thought you looked awful. He comforted you whenever you cried, even if it was when you were crying over Finding Nemo. He also took care of you when you were sick, He got you a warm blanket, a box of tissues (or seven depending on how sick you were), cough drops, chicken noodle soup (homemade, too because, obviously, the perfect Prince Charming should know how to cook, right?), and a teddy bear to make you feel better. And he didn’t just drop it all off at your house either. He stayed there all day with you, and made you tea, and watched every Disney movie you owned and then watched countless Hallmark movies all day long. He texted you adorable messages throughout the day and made sure to text you when you went to bed and when you woke up. If you two are away longer than a day, he called at least twice, just to make sure you were okay without him. He made you laugh all the time and you always had a good time with him.
Then, that perfect day came when he proposed to you with a gorgeous ring, in the most adorable way, and he even got down on one knee, reciting a poem that he wrote himself for you, and he used your full name. This guy is just absolutely perfect. Then you got married, having that fairy tale wedding you had been planning since you were ten. All the photos were amazing, the ceremony was beautiful, the food was delightful, and you finally became “Mrs. Charming.”
After two years or so into your blissful marriage, you were cleaning up the bedroom and you found an envelope with a document in it. It looked like a professional type of envelope, like the ones that hold bills and such so you picked it up and found that it was already opened. You started to read it and you found that it was only written to him and it was definitely not a bill of any kind. The further you read the angrier and more confused you became because you found that your whole life was a lie. The paper ultimately said that the only reason that “Prince Charming” ever did anything for you was that he was being paid two million dollars a year for being married to you.
How would you feel if you found out that the only reason that Prince Charming “loved” you was that he was getting paid? Honestly, I don’t know how I would respond to that. I would both cry hysterically and eat ice cream for the rest of my miserable life. Or, I would punch him in the face…with a cinder block. Or, I would never tell him that I knew, and I would just subtly torture him by playing pranks on him and getting revenge. Or, I might confront him about it and ask him why he didn’t agree to get five million dollars a year out of the deal. That would have been so much better. The moral of the story is that even if you do good things, if you don’t have pure motives, they mean nothing.
The Pharisee in this story did a good thing. He invited Jesus to come to his house, but he totally neglected some of the most basic customs of the day for having a guest in his home. In those days, when someone would enter another’s home as a guest, the host would offer him a kiss of greeting, water to wash his feet after the long journey, and ointment to freshen up. He did none of these things. This is just my perspective, but I feel as though the Pharisee only had Jesus in his home so others could see what a great person the Pharisee was. If he really cared that Jesus was there, if he really cared that he could minister to Jesus and be a blessing to him, if he really showed his love for Jesus, he would have paid attention to the little details and even the general social customs that were supposed to be observed. I think he just wanted others to see Jesus in his house so he would look like a more religious person.
Now that we have seen the lack of the Pharisee’s love for Christ, we can look at these three evidences of the woman’s love for Christ.
First, we notice her emotions. In this passage, love is her motive and her emotions are something that helps her express that love to Jesus.
We can see that she was very dedicated in searching for Jesus. It doesn’t say that she just happened to find Him there as she was walking by. The verse says “when she knew that Jesus sat at meat at the Pharisee’s house…” She wasted no time seeking out Jesus. I don’t know how she found out that he was there. They didn’t have billboards all over town announcing His coming. She couldn’t just go online and Google the times and dates that He would be in the area. I have a feeling that she was probably anticipating His coming for some time and that’s why she was so willingly ready to just use the alabaster box of ointment for Him because she had purchased it specially for His use. Maybe she asked people every day if they knew when Jesus would be coming. She had to have heard about Him before. She had to have known that He could do miracles and that He was all-knowing. She had to have known that He would love her no matter what she did. She just had to find Him soon, so she could worship Him, and I would think that she was continually searching for Him every day. Do you show God that you love Him by seeking Him daily? Do you prepare your heart every day to hear from Him just like the woman prepared the alabaster box to use for Him? She knew she only had one chance to see Jesus and she was prepared as soon as she knew where He was. We always have access to Jesus and we always know where He is. Are you always prepared to meet with Him?
Now, we see her sincerity. Every action she displayed was totally sincere. Honestly, she could have just given Jesus the box of ointment and left, but she didn’t. She broke the box, used the ointment, washed His feet, and then kissed them. The thing that stands out to me the most about what she did is mentioned in verse 38. The verse said she stood behind Him. She didn’t approach Him and make a huge scene with all the crying and the breaking of the box. She stood behind him and never showed Him her face. It almost seemed to me that she was so ashamed of her life that she didn’t want the perfect and holy God to see her. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to see her; she just wanted Jesus to know how she felt about Him. How often do we as Christians claim to love God, but whenever we “serve” Him in our ministries or with our talents, or with our words, we do it so others will see us and talk about how spiritual we are?
Not only does she show her love through her emotions, she shows her love with her earnestness.
I can usually tell how much someone loves something by how dedicated they are to their work. The guy who is most dedicated player on the basketball team is usually the one who shoots fifty extra free throws after practice. The girl who is most dedicated to soccer is the one who works on making ten goals before practice even starts. The girl who strives to play her piano recital piece perfectly isn’t going to wait until the day of the recital to start memorizing the piece. She will practice countless hours until her hands hurt and until she can’t get the tune out of her head.
This woman in the story gave her best. She used the most valuable thing she had. Not only that, when she broke the box to use it, she took away any chance of it ever being used again. She used all of it for Jesus and she held nothing back. I know I am guilty of holding things back from God or not doing my best. There are times when I choose to procrastinate on a project and wait until the last minute to do it, and instead of making sure the quality of the paper is good, I just make sure I turn it in on time so I don’t get a 0%. That is an example of not giving God my best. There are also times when I hold things back from God, like my time. Sometimes I sacrifice my time with God in the morning to get some extra sleep. Or sometimes I hold my talents back from God and I choose to use them to bring myself praise instead of glorifying God.
The last thing we see about the woman’s love for Jesus is her good example. Verse 47 says, “…for she loved much.” I underlined that part of the verse in my Bible because it just spoke to me so much and here is why. Look back over those verses again in that passage and look at the first thing that the woman says. Now what about the last thing she tells him. That’s right. She didn’t say anything. She never said a word, and yet Jesus said that “she loved much.” How many times do we tell Jesus that we love Him, but don’t show Him? How often do we say we love God, but never do anything to prove it? Sometimes it becomes something we say because it’s the right thing to do. But do we really love Him? Why aren’t we willing to show Him?
She showed Him love even when it wasn’t popular. The Pharisee mocked her and was disgusted by her presence. Even through the ridicule she remained silent and she just quietly and genuinely served the Lord.
What about you? Is your love and devotion to Christ lacking sincerity, or is it lacking, dedication, or is it just lacking in general? When I start to drift away from God and think that I am a better person than I truly am, I just need to humbly remember why He came to this earth in the first place and why He had to die to take my place because of all my sins. And that’s just amazing.
This post has been happily shared with Christian Mommy Blogger.