She was a woman with a past. And a present, for she was still considered a sinner. Luke (chapter 7:36-50) never tells us what she did or how she lived that was so bad, so many have speculated she was a prostitute. After all, when a woman is labeled a sinner, what else could she be? But speculation of her dilemma leads us down the wrong path. It takes us away from the point of the story and its relevance to our lives.
The truth is, Luke never tells us – he only tells us that she lived a sinful life until she met Jesus, and then she was forgiven. In her gratitude, she anoints Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume – a lavish, extravagant gift in response to a lavish, extravagant grace. For this woman, the bonds of sin were broken.
But what are the bonds of sin? First are the obvious – the actual sinful behavior, and its consequences. But there are other bonds that are hard to break – most especially the label “sinner”. This woman was labeled in the town as a sinner. She was considered the local “bad girl”, and that label made her an outcast. But now, because she was forgiven, that bond was broken – If Jesus no longer considered her sin, than neither should we. She is now free to begin again, with a clean slate. That is the importance of grace. And grace is something we need to offer to each other.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…