She was most likely a prostitute, and she apparently had a very profitable year.
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, so he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and 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. Luke 7:36-38
Perfumes and oils were widely used in the ancient world. Most of the oils were extracted from roots not indigenous to the area, had to be imported, and were inordinately expensive. (1)
The oil used to anoint Jesus was most likely spikenard, one of the costliest of perfumes. (2)
If it's true, if she really brought a years worth of wages in a bottle with her ($40,000-$50,000 in our day) as some sources say, to anoint Jesus' feet, well... that's a lot of perfume.
That's a lot of bad choices in a bottle.
That's a lot of cash. That's an outrageous amount of sin. That's a heap of guilt.
Simon is appalled; "How did this whore get in my house? He doesn't know whom to yell at first, the woman or the servant who let her in. After all, this dinner is a formal affair. Invitation only. Upper crust. Creme de a creme. Who let the riffraff in?" (3)
Makes me wonder how many bottles of bad choices I could bring? After all, I haven't made the best of decisions this year.
I imagine some of us could even bring a life time of bad choices in a bottle to the feet of Christ.
"She came thirsty from countless nights of making love and finding none.
(Imagine a a hooker in a tight dress showing up at the parsonage during the pastor's christmas party). Heads turn. Faces blush. Gasp!)
But peoples opinions didn't stop her from coming. It's not for them she has come. It's for Him." (3)
Would we let the amount of our sin and bad choices prevent us from kneeling at the feet of Jesus?
Will we hesitate to bring our sins to Him for fear of what people will say about us?
Is the promise true; He who comes to me I will never drive away? (John 6:37)
A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
You can't bring enough bad choices in a bottle that could cause him to turn you away.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Her story is recorded on Holy Writ just so you could know;
God wants you to come, just as you are, bringing your bottle of bad choices.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(1) Archaeological Study Bible, NIV, Zondervan, Perfumes and Anointing oils, pg. 1746
(2) New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red-Letter Edition, The, James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Oil, #3464 pg. 168
(3) Max Lucado, Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of An Uncommon God, pg. 21-23