I’m feeling a little emotional today. (Ok, fine, I’m perched up in the top of an emotional tree and every time I look down I lose it a little.) My best friend, who has been with me all week, took a train home this afternoon, and I really dislike goodbyes.
Being on the brink of tears makes me think of something my friend and I read together a few nights ago: the story in Luke 7 of the sinful woman who dared approach Jesus in the house of a Pharisee. What exactly she intended to do isn’t clear… she probably meant to anoint his head, a sign of honour. Instead, she broke down. She “stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment” (Luke 7:38).
There’s a LOT in this story, but what stands out to me right now is the way Jesus reacted to the sight of this woman, a perfect stranger, losing all semblance of control over herself and falling passionately down at his feet. Imagine if the same thing happened to you! This was not any more normal in that culture than in this one. Strong emotion is a difficult thing to deal with, and few of us can handle it–even in those we know and love–with great grace.
Yet here is Jesus: forgiving her, honouring her, accepting her contrition, her tears, and her kisses. He isn’t shaken to the core, because at his core is compassion, and that compassion flows out to her in quiet welcome. He doesn’t write her approach off as dangerous overemotionalism. He answers the prayer she doesn’t dare voice–“Your sins are forgiven you.” And he releases her into a new life, a new identity. She is no longer a wreck of a woman, a sorry example of humanity destroyed within and without. She is one who loves much, for she has been forgiven much.
It comforts me to know that God has great patience and compassion toward us even when our emotions are raging out of control, when we’re pushed beyond the point of acting “normally.” I’m gladdened to know that this compassion is in Jesus, because I know that it will be extended to me, in hundreds of ways, throughout my life.
“And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”