The room was already filled with tension before the woman stepped forward. This was undoubtedly a moment to cross-examine the young Rabbi and test His theology. Whether Simon the Pharisee’s motives were to save Jesus or expose Him, a night of verbal combat awaited them all. Then it happened!
“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…” (Luke 7:37)
The woman expressed her love of Jesus in an extravagant gesture, breaking the jar and anointing His feet with both its perfume and her tears.
Why did the woman do what she did? What was the reason behind her extravagance? What motivated her to step beyond the norm in such a wild, flamboyant way? All behavior has a “because.” What was hers?
I’m interested not only in what people do, but why they do what they do. What motivates them to climb that mountain or give themselves to that cause? I’ve discovered that in finding the “because” driving their behavior, we begin to understand the action itself and the passion within it.
The Bible teaches us that the Lord is deeply interested in the why, not just the what. He doesn’t just want us to do the right thing (although it’s good to do the right thing), but rather He wants us to do the right thing for the right reason.
The behavior of the woman is made up of four dynamic, distinct actions:
1) Her extravagant service, as demonstrated by tears that washed His feet.
2) Followed by an extravagant statement of uncovered hair, toweling Him dry.
3) Through her relentless and tender kisses, she offered extravagant surrender.
4) Then came the extravagant sacrifice of expensive perfumed nard!
Jesus put her “because” beautifully:
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, as her love has shown.” (v47)
These words reveal that the woman was extravagant toward Jesus, because He had been extravagant toward her. Some have suggested her actions were an attempt to find forgiveness, but the overwhelming force of the passage tells us the opposite. Her extravagance was not because she wanted to find salvation, but because salvation had found her.
Like the woman, we don’t need to try and win Jesus’ favor, because we have already received it. We don’t need to do things to win His forgiveness, rather our behavior expresses the fact that we have it. If we love as we’ve been forgiven, then extravagance will become our new normal!