The woman brought an alabaster jar of perfume. Perfume would be a tool of her trade not only for allurement, but also a body deodorizer. Alabaster is a stone. To make a jar the stone was hewn out. The perfume was poured in and sealed with a slim ceramic neck needing to be broken to access the expensive imported perfume. It’s a picture of our heart. Inside every hard stony heart God’s imported and placed an amazingly expensive perfume called love. It’s an allurement attracting people to us and attracting people to God. It’s a cleansing deodorizer for our souls. Love covers a multitude of sins

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 7

By Delbert Young

The Alabaster Jar of Love (Luke 7:36-50)

Alabaster of Love - Luke 7:36

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Alabaster of Love – Luke 7:36

Scriptures: Luke 7:36-50

I want to talk about love today. This is our Valentine Sunday, so “Love” is our theme. What does it look like when we love God? We know what it looks like when we love our spouse, etc, but what does it look like when we love God? Is there a picture?

Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and RECLINED AT THE TABLE.

Let’s picture the setting of our study today. Jesus, only days prior, revealed to the “Pharisees and experts of the law” he knew what they were saying and thought about him. They said Jesus was a “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luk 7:30, 34). Yet, a Pharisee, named Simon, invited Jesus to his house to have a meal with him and Simon’s Pharisee friends. Why? Had this Pharisee repented? Was Jesus finally getting through to him? Did this Pharisee want to learn from Jesus? Hardly. Simon and his friends intended to correct Jesus in the errors of his ways. Yet, Jesus accepted Simon’s invitation. Jesus will work with anyone, even adversarial, judgmental, religious people. However, in his foreknowledge, Jesus has a far greater reason to go to Simon’s house. It’s to give us a picture of love.

The Bible doesn’t give us a great deal of information concerning social etiquette for that time. No one thinks times will change that drastically. People had no idea the world would even be spinning two-thousand years later. We’re like that. We tend to think things won’t change much and the world will end soon anyway. It won’t, and what will it be two-thousand years from now? Can you imagine the technology and the way of life in say 4012 AD? Sounds weird, right? That’s how they felt. To get this lesson, we need to understand a little about social etiquette in those days.

First, they didn’t use chairs at a table to eat as the Da Vinci “Last Supper” painting depicts and as we do. Jesus reclined at the table. There could possibly be “recliner” type lounges set in a circle around a table. Meals were not “fast food” events and would last hours with everyone eating slowly and discussing life. Jesus reclined at the table meaning his feet were exposed and away from the table. That’s a good thing. Feet were a much larger issue than today. They walked dirty, dusty, muddy, and animal and poultry traveled roads. It was extremely important to wash not only one’s hands but also wash one’s feet before eating.

Also, a meal such as this would be experienced in a courtyard, weather permitting. It would be far more comfortable.

There was tremendous gender segregation in their culture. For example, women were not permitted to eat with men in this setting. They could serve, but not join in. A woman was considered property first owned by her father and then owned by her husband. She had no rights, could not vote, could not testify in a court, and could not own property. Some taught a woman could not learn. Jesus changed all that.

In my studies, I learned a dinner event such as this became a form of entertainment for the local public, at least for the men. It was perfectly accepted for men to come, position themselves around the parameter, and listen to the wisdom of the wealthy. Afterwards, with no refrigeration, they were welcome to any leftovers.

So, Jesus was reclining at the table having conversation with the Pharisees.

Luke 7:37-38 When A WOMAN WHO HAD LIVED A SINFUL LIFE IN THAT TOWN learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,

(KJV) Luke 7:37 And, BEHOLD, A WOMAN… A SINNER

The behold shows the unacceptable shock of what happened. A sinner, orwoman who had lived a sinful life would mean “a slut,” “a harlot,” “a prostitute,” and she functioned in that town. We now have the characters of the story. Jesus, Simon the Pharisee, other Pharisees, local men in the parameter, and a prostitute. It’s the perfect setting for God to show up.

The woman who had lived a sinful life was well known in the town. As despicable as prostitution is today imagine how disgraceful it was then. Let’s read v. 37-38 again.

Luke 7:37-38 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town LEARNED that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she BROUGHT AN ALABASTER JAR OF PERFUME

She learned Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house. She didn’t only “hear” it. She was studying Jesus and keeping up with him. Isn’t that interesting? That’s what we do. We study Jesus. I want to learn where he is and what he’s doing. It reminds me of me. Before I came to Jesus, I spent weeks learning about him. I asked questions. I went to sleep reading the Bible before I learned where he was.

She created a bold plan. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume. Perfume would be a tool of her trade not only for allurement, but also a body deodorizer.Alabaster is a stone. To make a jar the stone was hewn out. The perfume was poured in and sealed with a slim ceramic neck needing to be broken to access the expensive imported perfume (Mar 14:3).

It’s a picture of our heart. Inside every hard stony heart God’s imported and placed an amazingly expensive perfume called love. It’s an allurement attracting people to us and attracting people to God. It’s a cleansing deodorizer for our souls. Love covers a multitude of sins (1Pe 4:8). To pour out our love, sometimes our hearts must be broken. Then the contents of our heart, our love for God, our love for our spouse, or for anyone will pour out in its powerful aroma.

The woman knew exactly where Jesus would be. Boldly, she entered and found Jesus.

Luke 7:38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

This was an outrage. Everyone knew her and of her reputation. What’s a prostitute doing in a “holy man’s” house? She interrupted the meal. How discourteous and atrociously rude! This was odd and scandalous.

All conversation would stop as she positioned herself directly behind Jesus asshe began weeping so profusely her tears wet the feet of Jesus. If you’ve ever done this, or observed this, you know it’s not only tears. Something broke youralabaster jar. Your heart was broken. Love poured out with loud uncontrolled sobbing. It felt as though your heart would burst. Your body convulsed as the perfume of love gushed from your eyes, out your nose, out your mouth. You’re a mess. If the woman had makeup on, which she probably did, you women can imagine her appearance. It was a spectacle.

She fell to her knees and wiped his feet with her hair – another disgrace. A woman could be arrested for uncovering her hair in public. For any woman to touch a man to whom they were not married was a violation of their law. She wasn’t done yet. She kissed his feet. Kissed is kataphileo {kat-af-ee-leh’-o}} – to kiss much, kiss again and again, kiss tenderly. How obscene! I was thinking about the timeline. This must have taken several minutes to roll out. After washing his feet with her tears, drying his feet with her hair, and kissing his feet with her lips, she snapped the neck of the alabaster jar and poured it out on his feet. Her heart was broken. Her loved poured out.

To the Pharisee, it was a disgrace. It was repulsive to all in the room… except Jesus. He’s lovin’ it! You can imagine people rolling their eyes, making comments, glaring, pointing. Amazingly, Jesus didn’t recoil which added more to the spectacle. He didn’t kick her away. He didn’t rebuke her and yell, “What are you doing? Get off of me.” All must have asked, “Why doesn’t he stop her? He’s allowing her nasty tears to get on his feet! This is off the hook! Wait till I put this on Facebook!” This was shameful, but she was shameless with her worship and her love of Jesus.

How shameless are we with our love and worship of Jesus? What would you or I have thought had we been there that day? Let’s go a little deeper. When you come here to find Jesus on Sundays, do you come with an alabaster jar to open? In which group would you find yourself? Do you find yourself during Sunday worship looking around, pointing out others with your eyes that shamelessly worship and pour out their love upon him? Or, do you break your own alabaster jar of love not caring who’s there, who’s watching, or what anyone thinks or says? Do you refuse to be shamed out of your worship of Jesus? Are you shameless with your love for Jesus? How much does public opinion weigh in on your worship and expression of love for God?

I love it when I get to snap my alabaster jar and tears come from my heart. I love it when I cry all over Jesus. If I had hair, I would wipe his feet. I love to kiss Jesus in my worship and praise and I don’t care who’s here or what anyone says.

There have been times when going through situations I didn’t feel very received. I felt talked about, dirty, rejected, and scorned in our community, but I learned where Jesus was. I brought my alabaster jar of love.I broke it open and I poured out my heart on Jesus. I pray you are that way. There will be times you feel like that prostitute – dirty, rejected, and talked about. I pray you learned Jesus is here, come no matter what’s happened and pour out your alabaster jar of love upon Jesus. Don’t worry about the Pharisees. Be shameless.

Jesus is so cool. Instead of Jesus rejecting her worship, he embraced it. He wants us to come in our sin and rejection. He wants us to open our hearts and pour out our love upon him. Of course, that’s not what religion wants.

Luke 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, HE SAID TO HIMSELF, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is TOUCHING HIM and what kind of woman she is — THAT SHE IS A SINNER.”

Have you ever had a negative thought about someone’s worship when you knew things in their life weren’t what you called “Christian like”? We label them “a sinner.” They’re no longer a person God loves. We remove their dignity and identity. They’re trash. We feel they’ve prostituted themselves, but to what have we prostituted ourselves? What do you allow to use you? What uses your time? What uses your mind? This Pharisee allowed doubt and unbelief to use him? Who was the greater “sinner”?

Simon thought, “If Jesus doesn’t realize who and what she is, he’s no prophet. This is proof he is not from God if he doesn’t know who is touching him andwhat kind of woman she is. A person claiming to be Messiah would know and never allow someone like her to touch him. This guy’s a fake.”

Luke 7:40 JESUS ANSWERED HIM, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

Jesus answered the Pharisees’ thought. Has Jesus ever done that to you? He has me and it’s never a fun experience. It’s always when I need an adjustment in my thinking. Jesus knows your thoughts.

Instead of thinking “Simon” here, put your name in place of his name. “_____, I have something to tell you.” Simon said, “Tell me, teacher.” I read it like “Teach me something big boy! I’ve got your number, but go ahead. Give me your best shot. We watched you with the prostitute.” … Jesus said,

Luke 7:41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him FIVE HUNDRED DENARII, and the other FIFTY. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Jesus told a non-religious story that all listening should understand. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to get it. A denarii is a days wage. If you make $500 a week for five days labor, a denarii is $100. One man owed five hundred days wages – around $50,000. The other owed fifty days wages – $5,000. Neither man could pay their debt. So, the moneylender canceled the debt of both. Jesus asked,“Now which of them will love him more?” Simon probably thought, “Do what! That’s what you want to ‘tell’ me?”

Luke 7:43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Simon’s “I suppose” is either his being sarcastic, or leery Jesus might spin what seems apparent into a trick question (like I do to you sometimes). Jesus said, “You got it. You’re absolutely correct.”

Luke 7:44-47 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon “DO YOU SEE THIS WOMAN? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but THIS WOMAN, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, HER MANY SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN — FOR SHE LOVED MUCH. But HE WHO HAS BEEN FORGIVEN LITTLE LOVES LITTLE.”

In this passage the amount of forgiveness by God is proportionately associated with our love for God. The context is the more forgiven the more love should be given. How much have you been forgiven? How much should you love?

Jesus did a “dis” to Simon as Jesus, while speaking to Simon he turned to the woman. “Simon, do you see this woman?” Simon called her “a sinner” – trash. Jesus said “this woman.” Jesus gave her back her dignity. That’s what he does for us all.

We can’t grasp all the cultural aspects given here, but we understand the principle. Simon invited Jesus as a guest, but treated Jesus like trash. Simon didn’t offer him water to wash is dirty feet. He didn’t offer some oil to help manage his hair. He didn’t properly welcome Jesus. Actually, Simon attempted to disgrace Jesus in front of his “friends.”

The woman didn’t do that. Shamelessly, she broke her heart and poured out her love. This woman loves me so much she poured, not oil on my head, but expensive perfume on my feet. Do you get it Simon? She loved much, because her many sins have been forgiven. On the other hand Simon, he who has been forgiven little loves little. Simon, you don’t love God because you don’t love me. You’re in trouble. She’s forgiven of her sins.”

 (NLT) Luke 7:49-50 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who does this man think he is, going around forgiving sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus didn’t “think” about who he is. He knows who he is. He’s God in flesh, the center of the trinity. She understood who he is. No one else got it. She loved much. She got much.

A great point is this woman has been remembered and honored for two thousand years for her love, worship, and honor of Jesus. The Pharisee has also been remembered for two thousand years for his religious shame and lack of love for Jesus. I want to be remembered the way she is remembered. How about you? I love Jesus much.

Other Related Sermons:

I SEE GRACE pt 2 – Easter sermon video audio notes

Easter Nonsense – sermon video audio notes

How Much is God’s Christ Worth to Me – Palm Sunday sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young