Risky Business

March 31, 2012

What do the following have in common?

Reaching out in a crowd to touch a rabbi’s robe, even though it will make him ceremonially unclean.

Waltzing into a house full of hostile religious leaders who all know about your immoral past.

Sacrificing a year’s worth of wages to a man who didn’t ask for it.

Speaking up first to a Jewish man who knows you only as an assertive Gentile woman.

Risk is what these actions share. For women in first century Palestine, these actions were each inherently risky. 

Mary, the sister of Lazarus who poured her extravagantly scented adoration over the head and feet of Jesus, likely knew him well enough to anticipate a positive response. Even then, she had to endure the ire of other dinner guests who went ballistic over her “wastefulness.” Also, there was the off chance that being doused in Chanel No. 5 might actually annoy Jesus. 

The other three women, who had less experience with him, had to be cognizant that they risked rejection and reproof for so blatantly disregarding propriety in their pursuit of Jesus. It could easily have gone badly for them. Simon the Pharisee was certainly ready to show her the door after the prostitute crashed his dinner party. And the disciples with Jesus in Tyre heard the Gentile mother’s pleas for help and suggested Jesus send her away. Risk or not, each of these women forged ahead in faith anyway. 

Because Jesus was the object of their trust, there was no rejection, no humiliation, no “What do you think you’re doing?”and no admonishment for impropriety. 

Instead, Mary received the Savior’s approval for her worship. The woman with chronic bleeding was healed. The prostitute got peace. The daughter of the Gentile mom lost a troublesome demon. Each woman got what she risked herself to pursue, plus a public commendation for good measure: 

“She has done a beautiful thing for me.”
“Daughter, your faith has healed you.”
“Her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.”
“Woman, you have great faith!”

This isn’t only good news, it’s tremendous news for women!

We can risk going to Jesus with our greatest needs, our worst sins, our most outrageous demands, and our most passionate worship, and we are safe—completely safe—with him. Even when we feel compelled to pursue him outside the boundaries of what is considered secure, proper, traditional, or even feminine in our religious culture, we can trust Jesus to know our hearts and respond with love and grace—and possibly even his hearty approval.

Leave a Reply