Boys were the first adventure. They lured her with an unbelievable thrill. Soon she realized she attracted them too. And that she should use that attraction to gain wealth. They didn’t need to pay her. It was such fun anyway, but she could use the money.
The occult was her second adventure. One of her men introduced her to her first seance. It, too, was exciting. Soon she was going regularly. She became a practitioner. People would pay even more for her occult skills than for her physical attention.
Her moneybag filled. The coins accumulated, slowly at first, then faster. Finally, this woman had enough to buy that expensive bottle of perfume. It was horribly expensive, but she could afford it. Business was good.
Occasionally, she’d visit home. Mom and Dad had died. Her siblings still lived in the family home. But she couldn’t stay long. They were good and she wasn’t. She found she couldn’t stand the tut-tuts and the tsk-tsks anymore. Her brother’s face sometimes struck a responding chord in her heart. But the money was good—far better than they were doing.
Then the adventure turned into a nightmare. Demons invaded—seven of them. No longer was life fun or exciting. This woman felt helpless and ravaged. Her siblings were not helpful. The priests laughed and said God was punishing her for not being good!
One day she heard about an exciting itinerate teacher. She heard that He could cure lepers. Unheard of before! She heard that He would heal all kinds of sick people, even a man blind from birth. Unbelievable! She heard that He set little children on His lap and held them in His arms. Impressive! She heard that he could feed a multitude with a boy’s skimpy lunch. Wow, is there nothing He can’t do? She heard that He associated with fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and priests, and even with women. Could that include even me? Wow, what a teacher!
Maybe, perhaps, this teacher could return her sanity to her. Rumor said He was coming through town soon. Sis was going to invite Him to come to eat in their home. She determined to be there for the big event.
In her heart she cried out, “Save me!” He looked at her, touched her, and told the devils to be gone. They left. Sanity returned. The teacher enjoyed their simple home and returned often. The three of them, united together at last, welcomed Him with warmth.
One of the teachers at the synagogue school started talking to this woman. He seemed kind. Gradually she let down her guard. One day she found herself back in her old habits. But she trusted Him. He was a teacher, wasn’t He? Suddenly the door burst open. She sat up, trying to hide her nakedness. Rough hands dragged her out of bed, down the street, right to the temple. They tossed her like a rag doll on the gravel in front of the teacher. She cowered on the ground, her face in the dust, her nakedness exposed for all to see.
The Unexpected Response
The hard, angry, edgy, accusatory voices said, “We caught her, right in the act. Moses said to stone her. What do You say?” She steeled, expecting the stones to ricochet off her body. Her tears turned the dust into mud. The mud caked all over her face. She couldn’t hear the teacher’s response, but slowly the voices died away, and there was silence. Then the teacher spoke to her so gently, so tenderly, “Do you hear any accusations?”
She raised her head, and looking through mud-smeared eyes, realized there were no enemies there, just the teacher who wrapped her in His coat and said, “It’s OK. Go get dressed.”
Once the teacher was in their home visiting. She sat in the living room, listening to this amazing man. The things that He said thrilled her soul. Sis was hurrying around getting supper. She knew she could help, but the teacher was here. When Sis grumbled, He smiled and said something about important things and more important things. “Food is important, and she has chosen the more important things.”
Later, her brother sickened and died. The teacher came and publicly gave him life again. The woman’s heart burned with love for the teacher. How could she not love Him deeply? Not a romantic love, but a love which would follow Him anywhere and do anything for Him.
A Gift of Gratitude
Soon she had her chance. There was a big party in town. The teacher had healed one of the school men from leprosy. She wasn’t invited, but she couldn’t stay away. Her heart was so full that she took that bottle full of perfume over to the party. She opened it and poured it all over the teacher’s head and feet. She’d forgotten a towel; the only handy wipe was her long, beautiful brown hair. She used it to spread the perfume all over His feet.
So caught up was she in her love for the teacher, she’d forgotten all of the other people in the room. Suddenly she heard someone scowl, “What a waste. She should have sold that perfume and given the money to the poor.” She cringed at the reproof.
The teacher’s gentle answer soothed her distraught heart. “She has done this for my burial, and it will be remembered for eternity. She has been forgiven much, so she loves much. Woman, be assured that your sins are forgiven.”
As He hung on the cross, faint whiffs of the costly perfume still wafted to the teacher’s nose. It reminded Him that His sacrifice was appreciated. His humiliation was not in vain.
She, and a small cadre of other devastated women, followed His body to the tomb. Early Sunday morning, as they returned to embalm His body, she was honored to be the very first human to whom the teacher spoke after His resurrection. She was the first to testify to the rest that the teacher was alive.
“God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Those whose course has been offensive to Him He freely accepts; when they repent, He imparts to them His Divine Spirit, places them in the highest positions of trust, and sends them forth into the camp of the disloyal to proclaim His boundless mercy.”
She was a willful woman, liberated by mercy, a member of the heaven-bound souls. She is an example to women of all ages, a woman whom the teacher lured into becoming a citizen of heaven.
Ralph Owens writes from Idaho.
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