Jon Robinson | Pastor of Discipleship

This morning I’d like to consider a very small piece of a familiar story. Luke 7:36-50 tells the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair, tears, and an ointment. The story is worth reading as a compliment to this devotion. In summary, Jesus visits a pharisees’ home where a woman of the city (most likely a prostitute) without warning kneels down to wash Christ’s feet. The woman risks ridicule and rejection and offers up everything she has in this little alabaster jar. Today I want to simply focus on the jar, what it was and what it meant. First, the alabaster jar wasn’t just some oil. It wasn’t simply a fragrance. This was an ointment of the highest quality. Some scholars say this would have cost a year's worth of wages. That’s about $60,000 for the average American now. At that time if you were traveling like Jesus, you couldn’t just book a room at the local Holiday Inn for a hot shower to clean off before dinner. Additionally, Nike hadn’t put out their latest Pegasus shoes quite yet. People wore sandals, so often their feet were dried, callused, and smelly so a fragranced oil was a prized possession.  In this story I think the jar represents the woman’s security and Identity. Not only was the value of the jar great but it brought in continual income. You’ll see consistently in scripture that the seductress uses oils and fragrances to entice. What she does in offering this ointment to Jesus was give him everything. Her security in wealth and income and her identity as a prostitute.
Here's where the meaning of the jar gets deep. Most likely this alabaster jar didn’t just have a cap or lid on it that was easily removed and replaced. The woman probably would have broken the neck of the bottle in order to release the oil. You see it’s not enough to drip your identity and your security at Christ’s feet. What you’ve built your life on must be broken if it’s not in Christ. The jar must be shattered at the neck and all of your reliances must find a new home in the sure foundation of the redeemer. Now don’t be distracted by the sinfulness of the woman’s lifestyle. This applies to you. Over your life you’ve built your identity on things. It might be beauty, intelligence, career, family, parenting, athletics, success in business, etc. As Christians we can deceive ourselves that our identity and security are only in Christ because we’re sinners saved by grace. That is the goal of course because God's grace offers us that freedom. Unfortunately, it’s also true that we are still sinners because we haven’t broken the neck of every security in our lives, we haven’t shattered all of the things that we built an identity on. If we truly want to live free, then our life should not just have a one time encounter at the feet of Jesus but a constant approach into his loving presence where we can shed our broken affections and renew ourselves in his grace. My friends, if God created you, and if Jesus died for you, there is no more sure a security and no more pure an identity than in Him. Be free in Him.