A woman, who was a sinner, takes a form of supplication, weeps from mourning, and bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, then dries them with her hair (Luke 7:37-38). There is such an incredible intimacy about her actions, her response to him. Confronted with the presence of the Christ, this woman known not by her name or face, but her actions, honors him in such a public way, that those around her cannot help but take notice. They do not understand, and so they attack both her and Jesus: her for being a known sinner, and him for letting her impure self touch him. Yet this is who Christ is: the God of All that drew close to sin sick humanity so that we might become intimately acquainted with God, thus discovering and accepting our salvation from the very same sin that required Christ to come to us. Out of her humility, the woman serves God Incarnate. Out of her sinfulness, she seeks to honor the one who alone can save her. Are we any different? Should we be?
While the earthly ministry of Jesus the Christ drew to a close upon his ascension to heaven, the Risen Christ’s ministry in and through us is here and now, provided we are willing to have such a profound reaction to the grace of God as the woman. We are a stiff-necked people, who hold disdain for the notion of bowing down before anyone, much less the Son of Man. We yearn for our honor and glory, recognition of our acts when we are those who taint the world with our sin, and pervert the blessings of God with our evil. Despite all of this, we are offered grace, abundantly and repeatedly. Like the woman, we must have an intimate response to Christ, one that is personal and poignant in how it reveals the gratitude and love we have for our Lord. We are not better than her, nor called to anything less. God requires a relationship, for this we were created, for this we have been offered redemption, and for this we are called by the one who repairs our brokenness by his own blood. Her tears of pain and sorrow blessed Christ’s feet, like waters of baptism. Out of our burdens comes the ultimate blessing: relief from our sufferings caused by our sin and the sins of others. If we are keeping Christ at arms’ length, and denying this intimate proximity of Christ, then we are the ones who suffer even more. For those in agony do not reject the salve for their pain. But too often our pride becomes a barrier. Must we bow? Yes, in prayer and praise. Must we offer our most personal means of service? Yes, as tribute and because of our gratitude. What is to be gained by haughtiness that refuses to respond to the intimacy first shown to use by Christ? There is more work to be done in us; the Holy Spirit, in its perfecting love, is not through with us. There will always be more work to be done by us; the Lord has love and grace to rain down upon others, and we are the chosen conduits of that incredible blessing, and will be until Christ’s second coming. By paying homage to the King of kings, we take the first step in being transformed by our relationship with our Savior, and freely join with the Lord in transforming the world.