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She was dressed in her most expensive and most treasured gift. Her hair was set up and held in place with clips and fashioned to look exquisite, her skin was gleaming and her whole body smelled like a delight and good enough to eat and still she was nervous.
She sat sipping her wine in the bazaar and the people who knew her paid their respect by bowing their heads and she drank the wine slowly but she could not stop her hands from shaking. Her nerves were shot to pieces, her stomach was in knots and her mind was screaming for her not to go ahead with the meeting but her heart was not letting her off.
He was such an important man and everything that normally gave her power had not worked its spell on him. He was the first red blooded male that had not been swayed by her beauty and had not been made weak at the knees from a glance and a smile from her. Sure he'd smiled at her when she smiled at him, but there was no attraction in his eyes, their was no lust in his gaze, it was pure love she saw in him and a love like her father used to give her in his gaze as a child.
She'd watched this Rabbi from the moment he'd come to her town. The people were all talking about him and he possessed the power that all of Israel had been waiting for. They were whispering that he was the man that would free them from the slavery and tyranny of the Romans and yet she wasn't a lady that liked to hear second hand news.
From the day she grew breasts to this day she had never met a man who didn't fall weak into the fascination of her and have thoughts of possessing her naked in their own bed chambers and for many years she had used her power over mortals to establish her fortune. These powerful men that bought her time were never powerful enough to resist her charms and for those who couldn't afford her or as in the Pharisees' case their own reputations prevented them from being seen with her, they all still lusted after her and manipulated nearly all men with her charms.
No man had ever broken her since she was a child and no man had fully seen her vulnerable because her power and her intelligence, good humor and her beauty always won the most sincere and devoted husbands heart away from his beloved's even if it was just a glance every time she passed by. She was the bad companion of many men, but no man owned her and no money in the world could buy her and she used men and their wealth and even their sexual prowess simply to feed her own indulgent lifestyle.
She was the secret desire of all men in her town and she was the envy of many women if they could admit it to themselves. Oh the ladies liked to think they would not sell their bodies and many of the devout women in the town would never do that, but few of the women in town didn't secretly wish they could be as beautiful as her.
And now this Rabbi had come to town and stirred the people up. Some of her best clients had felt remorse for their lifestyle and had found the courage to say no to their lusts and many of the women were flocking to him simply to sit at his feet and to listen to him. For quite a number of days the whole town was alive and speaking of him, devoted their spare time and even left their work behind to listen to him preach.
Sure she'd listened to him also. He made a lot of sense and was funny and very intelligent. He had a way of making his points by using common everyday terms and practices and yet there was so much wisdom and depth to what he was saying. Every time she approached and sat at the back there was a commotion and it was the one time in her life when the men looking at her annoyed her and she wished all the eyes of the crowd would get off her and leave her at peace alone at the back to simply listen.
As she listened to a number of his discourses it seemed uncanny how as soon as she had sat and made herself invisible to the commotion she had caused at her arrival and got to a place where she was quite comfortable enough to listen without people looking at her, he would suddenly finish off a story mid sentence and start another story about her. Every time she sat down to listen, this Rabbi started to preach as though he was sitting face to face in a room with only her in it and was preaching what he thought she needed to hear.
The first time she heard him he quoted the prophet Jeremiah and chapter nine and said that a wise man should not take glory in his wisdom and a strong and powerful man should not take glory in his power, nor a rich man should not take glory in his riches, but the only thing a man should take glory in is that he knows his Father in heaven and understands his Father's character.
This sermon was the first one she had heard. He took the time to go through everything she held important. She was one of the most powerful women in the town and he explained that all power is given by God and he can take the power off a person whenever he chooses. He went on to say it does not matter how strong you are and how many people you can control because even if you command an army you can still have your life taken by one battle or one disease you didn't see coming. Then he said all the wealth in the world, while it may buy your fleeting happiness on earth it does you no good in the eternal hell fire of Hades where many rich people end up. Then he talked about how beauty is only skin deep and true beauty is not something that has an outward appearance but rather it is a hidden thing found in the heart and the qualities of a holy women are much more enduring and wholesome then the prettiest girl in the world.
Everything the Rabbi said hit her and cut her like a knife and she could never seem to stay for hours like the others did. She mostly had to get up and leave as she was getting so hurt and cut up by what he was saying that she was going to find herself crying or shouting out at him in anger neither of which she wanted to do in public.
Finally the day had come today where she had decided to approach him and worship him and let him know that he had broken through to her and that she now understood that her whole life was meaningless and could he please somehow say something or do something that could give her hope as her life had lost all it's joy, the power was no more fun, her money disgusted her and even the taste of food and wine had turned bland.
How would he accept her? Would he be harsh and rebuke her for being such an unworthy harlot or would he live up to being that gentle man that she saw playing hide and seek with the children in the marketplace? Was there really a life for a lady like her, could she really one day have purpose and this inner beauty that those holy women she admired had. Could he wash away all her shame and make it clear to the world that there could be new life.
He'd healed lepers and they had come back into new life in community and were accepted by the priests and the people and were considered clean and able to go into the synagogue to worship, and he had healed all sorts of people, even his best followers used to be mere fishermen and not any learned Pharisee, surely this man was into the common folk, but would he accept her and declare to her peers that she was clean and a new creation? She almost vomited a few times on the way to the house where she knew he was. It was a very spiritual and devout man's house and she was going to interrupt him during dinner, but even this man liked the way she looked and like to sneak a peek when he thought she wasn't looking.
Her hands trembled, sweat beaded on her forehead, her legs were jelly as she pulled the curtain back to enter the room and when she entered the Rabbi stopped speaking as did the whole room stopped listening as they looked up to see her in her finest and most expensive dress, with her finest jewelry and looking the very best she could look but being modest in her dress out of respect....and the Bible picks up the rest of the story...
36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with Him, so He went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "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."
40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
44Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
If this lady were to speak today let's imagine what she would say today to us:
I left that house and went skipping down the road with my hair down and with tears of joy in my eyes and the next day I spent a whole day at the feet of Jesus and I suddenly wasn't getting cut with every word it's as though every word was food. And speaking of food, food stopped being my idol, my looks became less important to me and knowing the truth of the scriptures and more of Jesus Christ's truth became the biggest priority in my life.
Jesus made me cry a few times more in later years and I sowed quite a lot of my fortune into the early church and was given a role to play in the redemption of many people in my land.
It does not matter what your secret sin is. It does not matter what power your sin has over you and what deficiencies hold you back from walking in the purity and the liberty of full obedience to Jesus Christ. One thing is true, the worse a sinner you are when you meet Jesus, the more you love Him when He accepts you with open arms. I urge you, don't let pride stop you from weeping in your next worship service, take the liberty to fall to your knees in church and weep and confess your sins at your Master's feet. Bring your best oil and anoint the foot of the cross and worship the only man in the world that NEVER lusted after me or any other women. We owe Jesus our whole lives as he freed us from every debt on that cross.
Kneel at church and confess your sins at the altar and ask for prayer and to be anointed and set free and Jesus will meet with you just as sure as He met with me!
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Matthew Robert Payne September 2009