She came uninvited.
She must have known the Pharisees would be scornful and angry and that her presence would be unwelcome, but she didn’t care.
Jesus was there- the man who had changed everything for her, the one who had assured her of God’s forgiveness, and given her hope that there could be a different way. She had been broken- badly broken to the point where wholeness seemed unachievable- but then she had met Jesus and now it felt like anything was possible.
She could feel the brokenness being mended and, for the first time in a long time, instead of being full of fear and bitterness, she overflowed with love and gratitude.
She had to thank him, and so she came, bursting in to the Pharisee’s dinner party and pouring out everything- her perfume, her tears, and her love- releasing a beautiful fragrance into the whole house- not just the sweetness of the scent, but the fragrance of healing, of transformation, of brokenness made whole.
Of course there was outrage: “Doesn’t Jesus know what kind of woman this is?” “What a waste of money to pour out all that perfume!”
But it didn’t matter, because Jesus understood. He saw her heart, and her gratitude, and he honoured her before the assembled crowd, saying to Simon the host:
“Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 8:44-47 NLT)
Assuring her again of forgiveness and salvation, he sent her on her way in peace.
For me, this story illustrates perfectly the paradox of Kintsugi. It creates a beauty out of brokenness restored that is not there in the pristine and unblemished, a beauty that is only possible because of the brokenness.
The woman’s beautiful act of love and worship would never have taken place had she not sinned many times, and experienced such a depth of forgiveness.
It reminds me of one of Jesus’ statements which I have always found particularly puzzling:
“There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7 NLT)
I still don’t claim to fully understand the statement, but I can see the truth in it: when something precious is lost and then found, there is more celebration than if the item had never been lost at all. The absence of it leads to a deeper appreciation when it is found than if it had been there all along.
One of the most beautiful weddings I attended was of a couple who had been married to one another previously but had divorced. During their time of separation, each of them had individually come to faith in Jesus, and they had been reconciled and decided to marry once again. There was something extra special about that wedding because of their story. It truly was an example of Kintsugi- of their broken pieces being bound back together by God’s work of gold, creating something with a special beauty that could never have been found in their original, unbroken marriage.
I don’t think we are meant to deliberately create brokenness in order to do Kintsugi. I don’t think we should sin to see more of God’s grace, or divorce to see God’s power to restore. There is surely enough brokenness in the world without trying to create more!
But, where there is brokenness, there is hope. What God creates from it has its own beauty- a beauty that cannot exist without the brokenness.
I pray that I will never be like the Pharisees, becoming self-righteous and looking down on someone because of their brokenness, but that instead I will see the potential, and the opportunity for God to use it to create something spectacular!