Tikvah remembered the day her older sister was come of age. Her mother and father had purchased a lovely alabaster jar of spikenard. This ointment was saved for the day that the maiden would be married, meant to be a dowry, all she had, to be given to her husband. Then in privacy, she would break the jar and pour the ointment over her beloved’s feet. In their culture, this was an act done as an act of her love and devotion before the marriage consummation.
That was a long time ago, and now Tikvah remembered this with grief; her name was hope and yet now all hope seemed lost. Tikvah was a sinful woman, having broken her alabaster box time and again in all the wrong ways… So much had happened between the day of her sister’s marriage to now.
Tikvah longed for forgiveness, to know what real love was! As Tikvah reminisced, she thought of the Rabbi Jesus, who was teaching all men-. She’d heard that he even ate in houses with sinners. Some called him a glutton, still others referred to him as a drunkard and friend of tax-collectors.
“If Jesus cares for the tax-collectors and he’s healed lepers…. could he heal me- would he forgive me?!”
Tikvah was no-longer a beautiful young woman, and those who once partook in her sin only beheld her with disdain now. The Pharisees offered no hope, they wouldn’t dare even talk to her lest they be associated with her. Yet, Tikvah had found a glimmer of hope in this man Jesus; who claimed to be the Son of God! Even the publicans were baptized in his name! Tikvah would listen to Jesus as he spoke to the crowds; she hadn’t the courage yet to approach him, but His words were enough- they spoke hope into her life!
All night long, Tikvah was reminded of her sin, but with a growing hope in Jesus she realized a Savior, and a God who would love & forgive her.
News spread that Jesus had been invited to eat with one of the Pharisees. Tikvah, seized the opportunity, besides, how could she guarantee that Jesus would stay in the region much longer? Tikvah wasted no time in purchasing an alabaster flask of ointment. Spikenard- it meant purity, and for the first time Tikvah’s intention was of purity, she was going to give all she had left in this small flask. She recognized a love in Jesus that no-one had ever shown her, Jesus cared for her not because of what she could do for him but because He knew a greater love. He would forgive her, cleanse her of her sin, what marvellous love!
That evening Tikvah took the flask with her to the Pharisee’s house. Without a second thought she entered, and coming to Jesus she knelt at his feet. Beholding her Lord, she was overwhelmed. As she wept, she didn’t notice the disciples and Pharisees watching… She took the flask and broke it; pouring it’s precious ointment over His feet, then using her hair, she wiped them. What a sacred moment it was between Tikvah and her Lord; yes, she was giving her all to Him.
“ This man, if he were a prophet would have known who and what manner of woman his is that toucheth him- for she is a sinner!” the shocked Pharisee spoke at last.
“Simon, I have something to tell you” Jesus said
“ Tell me”
“Two men owed money to a certain money lender. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon seemed puzzled, what did this have to do with the sinful woman?
“ I suppose the one who had the bigger debt”
“You have judged correctly” Jesus said, then turned to Tikvah “Do you see this woman? I came into your house; you did not give me any water for my feet, but she has 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- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus looked into Tikvah’s eyes and spoke gently,
“Your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you- go in peace”.
~ THE END ~
Notes: Tikvah is a Hebrew name meaning Hope
Spikenard: a Greek name for this herb was lavender
Disclaimer: This is a dramatization of the account given in Luke 7:36-50, the gospels Mark, Matthew and John all have an account similar to this, only they are of Mary the sister of Lazarus.
The last resource is one that includes a story of Mary of Bethany, how her symbol with the alabaster jar was a laying on the altar of her all, that’s the story that inspired me to write about it 🙂