Crazy, Brave Love
Beautiful and shocking. That’s what it is when an outcast woman is willing to do whatever it takes to express her devotion to Jesus. That’s what we saw in a passage in the gospels in a couple previous posts. What kind of courage is that? Whatever it is, I need more of it.
I need the kind of love this woman shows. I need the courage she lives out. I need to understand what it looks like today.
This is Crazy
The more you read the story in Luke 7 about a Pharisee and a sinful woman at dinner with Jesus, the crazier it becomes. Remember the times here: women are not respected. They are considered property by many of the cultures in play. They are not allowed to testify in a court. They don’t hold jobs like we define jobs. They are on the bottom of the social ladder. She is the least privileged person in that courtyard. Then, you consider that this woman is one who is known to be a sinner. Now this could mean a lot of things, but in those days the most common use of that would likely be a woman who sold sex.
So, here we have a scandalous woman, who is not trusted to even tell the truth because of her gender, and Luke makes sure that we see her as an example of faith to be imitated. I love how grace blows cultural biases out of the water.
This is Brave
She’s a sinner and a woman. Two strikes. But then she does a ridiculously bold act and with tears washes Jesus’ feet with her hair and kisses his feet. Then she breaks her (maybe?) saved-for-seduction perfume and pours it on his feet. Now this – the washing of feet, the reverence of kissing and anointing - would be slightly more normal in this culture than in ours, but this is still bizarre. It was horrendously inappropriate for a man of God to let a strange woman touch him. But a woman Jesus doesn’t know is touching him at a dinner party she wasn’t invited to. This is brave.
Our example here isn’t the religious guy who was probably very upstanding in the community and very obedient to many of God’s laws. The example is a woman who is a broken sinner, maybe someone like a stripper from the blacked-out place down the street, on her knees in the dirt.
But she knew she needed Jesus’ grace, and she was desperate for him. That meant she would do whatever it took to love him. Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much. Not that her love earned the forgiveness, but it was the proof of her faith. Jesus says our faith shows in the way we love with devotion. (Luke 7:47)
This is Love
This act was how she expressed her love for Jesus. Jesus references her great need as a debt. (Luke 7:39-47) She owed more than she could possibly pay and her situation was dire. Those in debt in that day could be made slaves, and their families were at risk as well. But her debt was wiped away; literally, it was “graced” away. And she knew it.
Her tears, gift, and service weren’t a show for the others present. She wasn’t there to influence her reputation. Nor was she adding to her ministry skills resume. She was there because of her desperation and devotion to Jesus. She knew her great debt and was grateful for grace. She loved.
So, friends, Luke clearly set this woman as the example in this text. Jesus is the hero, but this woman is the one who gets it. She’s the one who walks away blessed and full. Her love overflowed out of her own forgiveness. So, now how do we follow her?
But What Does Crazy, Brave Love Mean?
Jesus doesn’t physically visit our house, and we don’t sneak in to others’ houses to show our love for Jesus. (Don’t do that; it’s a bad plan.) But we have been forgiven such a debt, so how do you and I respond with crazy, brave love?
This means we love our relationship with Jesus, the people Jesus loves, and the actions that Jesus loves with crazy, brave love. We love him with our time, obedience, and devotion. But we also love the people around us with the same love, out of gratitude to him. He has called us to that. (Matt. 5:44, John 13:34-35) And he has pointed us specifically to those who are the least of these brothers and sisters, many of whom it takes more work and intentionality to love. When we love them, we are loving him. (Matt. 25:37-40)
This means you and I love with everything we have. She loved with all she had, not holding it back to protect her savings or her pride.
This means you and I love when others think it’s not sensible. She loved against all odds, even when others would tell her “not now” or “not with these people.”
This means you and I love with courage. She loved with abandon. It will take courage for us to truly love this way.
When I watch the news, I can tell you that we need the same crazy, brave love that those devoted to Jesus manifest. We need it for healing. We need it for mercy. We need it for hope. It’s a love that is so devoted to Jesus, in gratitude, that her love flows into all the relationships in her life.
If this woman from Luke 7 could speak to us today, she would tell us that Jesus was worth it. What Jesus could offer her was greater than anything she could ever keep. She knew what she needed, so her love was devoted. Let’s follow her footsteps.