Have you ever wondered what you would actually gain from following Jesus?
Many of us know the story of the prostitute who was transformed after she met Jesus. From this experience, we learn of three things that Jesus offers us when we commit ourselves to Him.
‘A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 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.’Luke 7:37-38
It is remarkable that not only did Jesus accept an offering from a woman who sold her body for money, in a roomful of religious officials, but He also gave her three things that would dramatically change the course of her life.
“… Do you see this woman?”Luke 7:44 (NIV)
When they saw that Jesus had allowed a prostitute to touch his feet, the leaders questioned His credibility. When Jesus asked them this question, He was saying, “Can you see who this woman really is?”
The leaders were blinded by their own puffed-up version of religion. They saw nothing more than a common harlot. She was unredeemable, repulsive, the lowest of the low.
But Jesus saw more. He saw the events that brought her to the sex trade. He saw the hurt and abuse that she would have suffered. He saw everything she had done.
But He also saw her. He saw her hopes, her heart, her true identity. And in a room filled with religious hypocrites, He recognised her act of devotion and praised her for it.
“You did not give me any water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet.”Luke 7: 44-46 (NIV)
For all their religion and finery, none of the men had shown Jesus any hospitality. Upholding a false sense of holiness, they had not welcomed Him. So, Jesus elevated the woman to a position of honour, above any of the men in the gathering.
When we welcome Jesus into our lives, He affirms our identity and self-worth. In spite of it all, He gives us dignity.
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven…”Luke 7:47 (NIV)
There is a lie that faith is only intended for the ‘do-gooders’. The people who never get it wrong. The people who are perfect in every way. The people who have impossibly high standards.
The woman’s past could not be erased. Her reputation was established in shame. Her lifestyle was a scandal. But when she came to Jesus, He welcomed her into His presence and eradicated her guilt.
Everyone has done something that they are ashamed of. We play back in our minds, over and over, thinking ‘I wish I had acted differently.’
Jesus didn’t come for stuck-up, self-righteous religion. He came for the people who aren’t perfect. The ones who mess up. The ones who get it wrong. This woman had many black marks to her name, but Jesus offered her complete forgiveness and freedom.
He offers us that same forgiveness and renewal today.
‘Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”Luke 7: 50 (NIV)
In this moment, the woman received a new future. She was no longer defined by her past. A fresh start awaited her when she left that house.
Certainly, there would have been temptation to return to her old life. And people would still have taunted her in the streets. It may have taken her many months to find a new trade, a new source of income.
But Jesus had blessed her with an overwhelming sense of peace. Whatever she faced, she could be secure in the knowledge of what He had done for her. She was loved. She was treasured. And she had a new hope for the future.
A fresh start may cost us something.
The woman poured out her most expensive possession over Jesus’ feet, anointing Him as her Lord and Saviour. She gave Him her emotions, her hurts and her deepest longings. In short, she gave Him everything. Then Jesus offered her something that was worth more than all of her belongings.
No longer was she a prostitute, reviled and despised. Through Him, she was a beloved daughter of God, precious and loved.
No longer was she plagued by her depraved lifestyle. Through Him, she was renewed and forgiven, with a clean slate.
No longer was she limited by her position in society. Through Him, she could have a new identity and a new beginning.
When we give Jesus everything, we receive more than we could have possibly imagined.
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!’2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)