This dear friend is deeply distraught, so much so that she is compelled to enter a pharisee’s home and disrupt a dinner party! For a moment, try to climb into her world. What would have to be in your heart to compel you to break social norms and act in this way? What need or loss could make you that desperate?
Remember, this woman is not (yet) a disciple so there must be something she has seen or heard that prompts her to come to Jesus in this way. What was it? What do you think is her deepest need? Could she even identify it enough to voice it? Even though she cannot find the words, her actions speak. What is the request she is making with the perfume and tears? (Hint: Jesus’ story and explanation in verses 41-47 will help.)
Notice that Jesus never pushed her away. He received her (from our perspective) badly timed, clumsily expressed and disruptive actions. Even though the text does not say this, I see Jesus placing His hand under her chin and raising her head so that their eyes could meet. Then, with compassion in His voice He says, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
The desperation in her soul that compelled her action was the same we’ve seen many times. A hole is dug in a roof. A woman forces her way through a tightly packed crowd. A blind man ignores the rebuke of others to shout all the louder. The physical needs that drove people to Jesus are clearly seen. But what of the underlying needs that remain hidden from the masses? These need healing too.
The woman who disrupted the dinner party needed to be healed but her condition was not obvious. Only someone who related to her personally and individually would ever be able to discern her true need. And this is where the text got personal for me.
It is easy for me to focus only on the physical needs of the people around me. These are the things that cry out for a solution. The chronic pain. The terminal diagnosis. The acute illness. Soon it feels like the prayer requests for physical healing have piled up to form a massive crowd, each one clamoring for the Lord’s attention and mercy. That physical need is all I see, but not all the Lord sees. It is likely that each person with a presenting need has an even more important underlying need, one that few actually know about.
This need might be so deep that the person may not even be able to put it into words. Perhaps all they can do is act out, cry out, express emotion, miss social cues or act in a clumsy, disruptive and badly timed way. When our schedules are interrupted and our plans are changed by people who barge in on our lives, do we have eyes to see as Jesus saw? Do we have the patience to relate as Jesus related?
Whether it is the person next to us or the “deep waters” of our own hearts, let us care for the needs that are obvious and let us also be open to the needs that are hidden. We know that we cannot “fix” anything. Jesus is the Savior. So, as the Spirit shows us what Jesus already knows, let us be willing to trust Him to empower us as we engage each person, giving them the time and attention that reflects the healing touch of our Lord.
Grateful to be on this journey with you,