When a woman who had led a "sinful life" heard that Jesus was having dinner in town, she crashed the party. Bold as she was, she did not approach him face-to-face. Instead, she stood behind him as he reclined at the table, tears streaming down her face. Then, forgetting what all the well-to-do people thought, she fell to her knees, kissing his feet, drenching them with her tears and wiping them with her tangled hair. As she took her alabaster jar of costly perfume and anointed the very skin of Christ, I can imagine her thinking:
What a mess I’ve made of the life you gave me . . . what a mess I am! All I can give you now is this little bit of beauty I’ve got left: my broken shame-filled heart. I don’t care what they think! All I care is what you think, Jesus . . . You. It’s me and you here now. Will you wash me? Will you wash off all the dirt and grime and polish me with the oil of you? Will you make me new?
The courage to get real with Jesus is breathtakinginly beautiful. You cannot create this kind of beauty with makeup and stylish clothes. This is the kind that can not be fabricated; it is so authentic, so raw that it makes us uncomfortable . . . it scares us.
Our other main character in this scene, Simon, is absolutely revolted by this woman’s poor behavior at his dinner party. He is a Pharisee, who is categorically more interested in having the perfect image than the perfect heart. If Jesus were really a prophet, he thinks, He would know that this woman is a sinner!
Jesus had just finished explaining to these "experts" of religious law that he did not come to save the healthy, but the sick. He didn’t come for the perfect! He came for imperfect; he came for her.
If they were such "experts," they should have known 1 Samuel 16:7, which says man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. In Matthew 23, Jesus rants and raves against their hypocrisy, calling them "white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead-man’s bones." They wore a perfect mask, hiding ugliness underneath it all. And Jesus could see right through them.
So does he reject her for her brazen behavior? Her past? Her sexual sin? No. He does not look at the outward appearance. He sees her heart — broken, messy, real, and it is beautiful to him.
Instead of explaining this to Simon outright, he tells him a story about two people with canceled debts, saying that the one with the bigger debt is more grateful than the one with the smaller. This woman had a big debt; she had a lot to be forgiven; she had a large burden, and a lot to be grateful for, like me. But she was real, and the rawness of her love endeared her to him.
The perfect image never did it for Jesus. The image he loved was the one that was crumbling, the one that was humble enough to say, I have not led a perfect life, but I want a perfect forgiveness, a perfect love, and I know that comes from you.
So why are we so afraid to say, "I’m crumbling?" Because everyone will know the perfect image we put off isn’t real, and we’ve identified our worth with the image. But the image is only that — a replication, an imitation of what’s real. The real thing is what you want more than anything to pour out at the feet of Jesus. That’s what real is. And He loves real. Fake, he can’t do anything with. The truth is, he hates fake.
But messy, crumbling, slobbering, mascara running, hair out of place, Ive made a mess of my life and I need you: that’s what really pulls at his heart. In a world obsessed with how things look on the outside, hes searching for hearts that arent afraid to break open and bleed a little or a lot.
Do you want the perfect image? Then imitate her. Dont imitate the images of our culture. They are illusions. What is real is everything we see in the woman who led the sinful life: a willingness to say, this is what is underneath the veneer . . . and Im not afraid to let other people know that. Im not afraid to pour out my heart, because I know he loves me like this.
Your sins are forgiven, he said to her, Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
The honesty that Jennifer uses to tell her story drew our young women in and captured their hearts. She provided them with practical tips that the women use daily to transform their lives. These decisions have caused them to do things differently. We loved her so much, we are having her back!
Chrissie Dunham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX
Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.
Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA
Jennifer has the ability to make you laugh, cry, and see yourself as one of God’s glorious creations — and that is just her warm up! Once Jennifer starts speaking, all you want to do is listen, learn, laugh, and love her. She takes you outside of yourself while helping you see inside of yourself, and does it in such a way that you feel safe, empowered, and capable to embrace all that the Lord is waiting to give you. She opens your eyes and your heart to hear from God in ways you never have. She connects you with others who share similar life experiences — and shines a bright light on the pathway to forgiveness, love, and blessings. Jennifer is also an amazing mother, compassionate, loving wife, and loyal, dedicated friend. Any opportunity women of any age have to hear from her is a gift and one that will produce fruit in their lives.
Lori Kennedy, Outreach Event Coordinator, Riverview Evangelical Church, Bonsall, CA
I just picked up my girls from school today and they both talked all the way home about Jennifer’s presenation. It was a BIG HIT with Middle School and High School kids (both boys and girls). My high school daughter mentioned that she was glad that for once, a speaker focused on girl’s topics instead of sports or boy topics. She said that Jennifer engaged with the boys and made them answer questions too. My middle school daughter said that everyone in the middle school was paying attention too, and that all her friends were very tuned into what Jen was saying. Both girls said that they thought it was fine that the boys were with the girls during the presentation because the boys “needed to hear this stuff too.”
Mother of two student attendees
Mother of two student attendees of Jennifer's U R MORE school program for boys and girls
If you think Jennifer gets the attention of adults, just see how the teenagers respond! My teenage grandchildren said they wanted to hear more from her and that her book was the only one they’ve ever really enjoyed reading! If teenagers are informed, inspired, and desire more, does anything else need to be said? Jennifer is an unusual voice of truth, integrity, and dignity. She needs to tell the world about her experiences and her victory. She encouraged me, a 70-year-old great grandmother. So, from teens to grans she has something everyone can benefit from.