In Luke chapter 7 we see Christ confirming the doctrine He has preached in former chapters with two incredible miracles - the curing of the centurions servant in verses 1-10 and the raising of the widow’s son to life in verses 11-18. Christ then confirms, in verses 19-23, the faith of John, who was now in prison, as well as the faith of some of the disciples, by sending an account of some of the miracles that had recently taken place. Adding at the end of that celebratory moment a bit of praise or honor for John and his faithful service to what God had called him to, as well as a bit of a reproof or disapproval of the contempt that generation had shown to him and his doctrine in verses 24-35.
But today I want to zero in on what takes place in the final verses of this chapter where we are told the beautiful redemption story of Mary Magdalene. You may recognize that name from previous passages of scripture you have read, as she was one of the three women who went to care for Jesus’ body after His death on the cross, which we read about in Matthew chapter 28 and Mark chapter 16.
When this account of Mary Magdalene opens in Luke 7:36 we find a Pharisee asking Jesus over for lunch. Jesus accepts the invitation and has obviously made himself quite at home since the Bible says He “reclined at the table”. There’s no fancy etiquette going on here. And, on the flip side, Jesus is not being disrespectful or rude. This little phrase just lets us know that Jesus is comfortable in His surroundings. Relaxed and enjoying the company of His hosts. It was at this time that this woman, Mary Magdalene, entered the scene. And what a scene she makes.
Let’s read this account together, starting in Luke 7:36:
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 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.
First, can I just point out that Mary has just barged into SOMEONE ELSE’S HOME!?!? It’s not like Jesus was in a public square or cafe. Nope. He was in the Pharisee’s HOME! And this woman just boldly shows up at this guy's house, barges in, walks up to Jesus and starts to cry.
I have no doubt everyone in the room was pretty speechless at this point. I mean, what is this lady doing here? And why is she just standing there crying? So what in the world possessed this “woman of the world”, as scripture describes her, to burst, uninvited, into this man’s home and begin crying uncontrollably at the feet of Jesus?
Some might say desperation. After all, we have read the accounts of many who have reached out, cried out, and sought out Jesus in desperation. However, this story is different. Why? Because Mary had already received a healing touch from Jesus. At some point in time, before this story unfolds, she had encountered Jesus as He taught and, likely in the midst of a large crowd as she listened intently to one of Jesus’ many public teaching moments, laid down her life of sin as she accepted Christ's grace and forgiveness. In that moment, her life was forever changed. And changed in the most amazing way imaginable.
So, though desperation was definitely a part of her story, I would argue that desperation was not her motivation in this moment, since she was able to abandon that desperate search of peace, healing, and acceptance the moment she met Jesus. Instead, I believe her actions show us that her motivation was an almost uncontrollable outpouring of thankfulness, adoration, and love.
You see, when this “woman of the city”, this “sinner”, this “harlot” encountered Jesus He didn’t judge or condemn. He didn’t accuse or ridicule. He was patient. He was kind. And He presented to her nothing but Truth and the freedom that is found in it. And having been freed from this life of desperation she had experienced for so long she could not even find the words to express her thankfulness, her joy, so, instead, she acted. And that action of immense gratitude and love led her to:
First - Seek Out Jesus, as verse 37 tells us.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.
Mary was so overcome by this desire to not just be NEAR Jesus but to pour out this overflow of worship to Him that she wasn’t going to wait around for Him to show up in the town square. She was going to find Him and, once she did, she, without hesitation, went to Him.
Second - We see that in her immense gratitude and love for Jesus she was going to get into His presence, no matter what! Even if that meant busting into another person's house to do so.
As I envision this scene in my mind I am reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 4:16 which states:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence [with boldness], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Mary is the prime example of approaching that throne of Grace with Bold desire and determination! A Boldness that declares “no matter what obstacles may stand in my way, I WILL worship at the feet of Jesus today!”
Mary Magdalene’s redemption story is the epitome of 2 Corinthians 5:14, which says “For Christ’s love compels us…”
Friends, when was the last time you were so compelled by your love for the Lord that, like Mary, nothing and no one was going to keep you from seeking out and spending time with Jesus? The word compels that we just read in 2 Corinthians 5:14 means “to drive or urge irresistibly.” When was the last time that you had such a deep longing to be with Jesus that you were literally compelled - driven by an irresistible urge - to be with Him and unashamedly worship Him, not caring who was watching or what was going on around you?
Whether the answer to those questions is “never”, “it’s been a long time”, or “just yesterday", today is a new day, full of new blessings, and new opportunities to worship at the feet of Jesus. So as you spend time reading Luke 7, I encourage you to take a little extra time today to, like Mary, just sit and worship at the feet of Jesus, not allowing any obstacles of the day to stand in your way of your time with Him.