There is a story in the Bible that moves me every time I read it. It moves me so much, I wrote a worship song about it called “Alabaster Jar,” and I believe it also gives us one of the most complete images of worship in the Bible.
Luke gives us the details of this story in the seventh chapter of his Gospel:
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard [Jesus] was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. … Then [Jesus] turned to the woman and said to Simon [the Pharisee], “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” … And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36–50, NLT)
With total disregard for the opinions of the men around her, this woman approached Jesus. We don’t really know why except that He must have done something wonderful for her, because her heart was overwhelmed with gratefulness (Some scholars believe this woman was Mary Magdalene whom Jesus cast seven demons out of. See Mark 16:9 and Luke 8:2.). And out of her gratefulness erupted one of the sweetest and most heartfelt expressions of love in all of the Bible. This woman—seeing the filthy feet of Jesus—bowed down at His feet and began to weep.
Perhaps her heart broke that He warranted so little honor in the Pharisees’ eyes – they wouldn’t even have a servant wash His feet (as was customary). And so, she wept over the dishonored feet of her beloved Lord. She wept upon the dirt and detritus of the street, streaking his feet with her tears. Then she did something astounding. She unloosed her hair and used it as a dust rag to wash the feet of Christ. According to 1 Corinthians 11:15, a woman’s hair is her glory, and this woman used her glory as a rag to serve Jesus.
But this woman didn’t just stop at washing Jesus’ feet. She went further. As she wiped Jesus’ feet, she also kissed them repeatedly, cherishing the feet of her Savior where others had dishonored Him. Then she took an expensive oil, unstopped the bottle and poured it on those dirty, mud-streaked feet. What an extravagance! What humility! What a demonstration of love! What a demonstration of value! What incredible “worth-ship” she gave Jesus that day!
Is it any wonder Jesus felt loved? If only we could worship so well, bowing to the Lord, heart ablaze with gratitude, pouring our emotions out upon Him, expressing our love to Him, using our glory to serve Him and extravagantly giving value to Him. How could God resist such a people? How could He resist such a Bride?
But in many churches, we’ve become like the Pharisees, sitting on our pedestals and judging the “inappropriate behavior” of forgiven, grateful worshippers. And then we wonder why our “worship” doesn’t win the lost.
This is the only place I know of in the Bible where Jesus says someone demonstrated love to Him. How terribly sad! Only once in the entire Bible did Jesus say He felt loved, and the person who did it was criticized and mocked for it.
But what if we all loved Him so well?
I’m praying God will become so irresistible to us that such acts of worship become the norm. And I pray we would become so irresistible to Him that He makes Himself at home in our homes and hearts and in “tabernacles” everywhere.