There’s a story about Jesus in the book of Luke that I absolutely love. The story begins with a Pharisee (a religious leader) named Simon inviting Jesus over for dinner. They are reclining at his table, when a “sinful woman” (probably a prostitute) comes into the house with a jar of perfume. She starts to cry at the feet of Jesus, wipes her tears off his feet with her hair, and pours perfume on them.
Imagine This Story Happening Today
I would like you to take a minute and imagine yourself in a similar scene today. Let’s say you are having your pastor over for a nice dinner. You are a little nervous about it, so you have been cleaning all day and preparing the meal. The pastor arrives, and you sit down at the table to start eating. All of a sudden, in the middle of dinner, a prostitute walks into your home uninvited, kneels down at the feet of your pastor, starts to cry, wipes her tears off your pastor’s feet with her hair, and pours an expensive bottle of perfume on your pastor’s feet. The strong scent of perfume fills the dining room quickly as the perfume seeps into your hardwood floor. What would you say? What would you do?
How Would You React?
In the story, the Pharisee reacts in a similar way I think I might react. He said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).
The Pharisee didn’t want to associate with a woman who was a sinner, and he didn’t think Jesus should associate with her either. But Jesus had a different perspective.
The Lesson of Jesus
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii (a denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer), and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:40-47).
The Connection Between Brokenness and Grace
There’s a connection between understanding our own brokenness, receiving grace, and being able to extend grace and love to others.
I have seen this connection in my own life. When I was in college, I thought I was pretty good at the whole religion thing. I thought I was good at following the rules. I didn’t understand that I struggled and had areas of brokenness in my own life. And because of my lack of awareness, I struggled to love others well. I was judgmental toward others who didn’t live their life the way I thought they should. As I grew older and understood and accepted more of my own brokenness, I was better able to extend grace and love others well.
I have also experienced this connection in my relationships with others. The people in my life who are best at loving me and giving me grace are also the people who are most in touch with their own pain and brokenness. And I seek these people out, because grace, love, and acceptance are what I need and long for.
Discussion: What do you think of the connection between brokenness and grace? Can you have one without the other? How could we accept more of our brokenness, so that we could receive grace from God and others?