“And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” v. 9
The sweaty stench of men was nothing new to her. In her line of work it was pretty familiar. She stood in the back of the room trying not to make eye contact with her more prominent former patrons, as they plied Jesus with inane religious questions. A few of those men knew her very well. Too well. It made her a bit sick to her stomach to think about it. The low rumble of conversation combined with the crunching and slurping of bread and fruit was always intimidating to her. She knew what most of these men thought of her, and how easily her presence here could result in her death. But today she was willing to die if need be. As long as she could remember she had come into rooms like this one, looking for men and their money. She knew how to flirt and giggle, playing whatever game was needed to bring the right man home for the evening. To her, men were all the same. You just have to know when to smile, laugh at bad jokes, and how to brush a fragrant hand against the shoulder without being too obvious. Whether you were a soldier, a farmer, or a scribe she knew how to work you down to your last Drachma. But today was different. She had come looking for a man with an entirely different purpose in mind.
Ever since she was kicked out of her home at 13 she has been using men to survive. To her that’s all a man was good for. She had lost years enduring bad men, with their bad jokes and bad breath, just to have enough money to live on. Men had beaten her, raped her, and mocked her in public, threatening to kill her if she talked. The way many of them paraded themselves into the synagogue after sneaking out of her place made her want to vomit. But today she stood in the back of this dusty room looking for the Nazarene. She hadn’t come to flirt, or play games. She had come to honor the first man in 24 years to look at her with real love.
Ever since that violent morning at the temple court yard, life had changed. She had been dragged out bed while her lover was rushed out the back door with his religious robe in hand, and she was slammed to the pavement. Bracing herself for a barrage of stones, she was shocked by the silence of guilty men walking away, dropping stones to the ground. Then the words came, like a warm breeze after a storm, wiping the clouds away. “No one condemns you and neither do I. Go now, and leave this life behind.” Then through her blood matted hair she looked into the eyes of divine love.
Now, standing at the Leper’s house with the only possession she had left, a jar of perfume, she moved toward him. Ignoring the crude whispers, and razor sharp stares that sought to cut her to pieces, but this time fell powerless at her feet. With each step toward him she felt less like a commodity and more like a royal princess, as her new king crowned her heart with his radiant love. With the gentle snap of the jar all the pain of years crackled into pieces, and a torrent of emotion burst from her soul.
The room fell silent as she poured out her gratitude upon his head. Her tears splattered on his feet, and she hurried to clean them with her hair. For that moment there was no one in the room but her and the redeemer. Every second in his presence filled her soul with unexplainable power. Her eyes filled like warm cups of joy and she was oblivious to the mocking sounds of pompous hypocrites in the background, criticizing her. For a second, she recognized one very familiar voice, a voice she had heard on many a night, saying “Why this waste…” she ignored the rest. Nothing given to Jesus in genuine love is ever wasted.
Then, something happened that she truly had only experienced one time before. Both times it was Jesus who did it. In all of her life she had never experienced a man defending her. Neither her abusive father, nor her brothers, and certainly not the company that surrounded her. To them she had only been a toy, or pawn in some game. But now the one who had saved her in the court yard, sought to crown her in the Leper’s house.
“Leave her alone!” He thundered, eyes glaring with holy fire, daring anyone to speak. A powerful holy silence fell on that place sending demonic voices screaming into the abyss. Then he went on with her coronation. “And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
She turned with royal grace, head held high, once wounded eyes now flashing with the power of redeeming love. Then she floated past stunned faces, fumbling for their dignity, some broken hearted, others sinking deeper into darkness. The old shell of her life lie on the floor like the shards of a perfume jar, and the stench of shame was replaced by the fragrance of peace. Another princess was added to the kingdom. That my friends is what the gospel is all about.