SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013.
WITH JESUS THERE IS HOPE FOR THE SINNER
‘When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he 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.’ Luke 7:37, 38.
Although the woman was not an invited guest, she entered the house anyway and knelt behind Jesus at His feet. In Jesus’ day, it was customary to recline while eating. Dinner guests would lie on couches with their heads near the table, propping themselves up on one elbow and stretching their feet out behind them. The woman could easily anoint Jesus’ feet without approaching the table.
However, this story was very important and all the Gospel writers put it down: Matt. 26 v 6-13, Mark 14 v 3-9 and John 12 v 1-11. Luke talking about the woman said ‘a certain immoral woman’ implying a sinner whose end is already known. By this the woman was singled out as a social outcast. Yes, men may judge us but thanks to God in Jesus we still have hope.
Interestedly, Mark and John very selective in their narrative and they did say: the oil with which she used in anointing Jesus’ feet if sold could go for a year’s wages. The perfume to say the least was very expensive and it was this that the woman used to anoint Jesus before His burial. This woman seems to be putting into practice what king David said many years back; ‘I will not give God that which cost me nothing’ 2 Sam. 24:24. It is a lesson for those who must give to God to ensure they give Him valued offering as sacrifice.
The woman in question no doubt is a sinner and to that extent sin causes separation, damnation and punishment. Yet, with Jesus all hope are not lost. It is true the scripture asserts that ‘God is of a purer eye than can behold iniquity’. At the same time, He is merciful and will cleanse a genuine sinner seeking repentance of all unrighteousness.
The woman in the Bible passage referred to above did not waste time in kneeling before Jesus as a sign of piety and repentance. For me, it was reassuring possibly she had become tired of sin and needed somebody to help her off load them. This she found in Jesus and was not willing to consider the expensive nature of the alabaster flask containing the oil which she willingly broke if only Jesus could pity her and welcome her back. Men may judge us because of our past but praise be to God who does not judge as men do. There is always a room for the sinner to return and be welcomed as a member of God’s flock. Was it not the scripture that said ‘there is joy in Heaven over a sinner who repents’. When and how they will return should not bother us but our joy will always be that souls are being recovered for the kingdom of God.
People of God, many made in the image of God are wallowing in sin and if nothing is done they may remain there and miss Heaven. Such people need the Gospel message to return them to the shelter of the Lord’s house. Just look round you will discover to your disappointment that many who claim to be children of God in different offices and establishments name the name of Christ but have not departed from iniquity. If not, how could you account for it the more worshippers we have Sunday by Sunday the more sins we have in the wider society?
I thank God that the case of a sinner is not such a hopeless one because the blood of the Lamb will always cleanse and set the sinner free. If we confess and renounce sin, God is faithful and will in Christ Jesus forgive us.
Therefore, child of God, are you written off by men or is your previous life making people to think that you may not make Heaven? Please be assured with Jesus there is hope for the sinner. The same Jesus told this immoral woman wherever the Gospel is preached today your name will be mentioned testifying this good work that you did. St Paul’s admonition to the Christian is very essential: ‘… I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.’ Rom. 12:1.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.