I remember hearing “Alabaster Box” by CeCe Winans for the first time. I thought it was only a beautiful song until I understood what it meant to break the alabaster box.
“So don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair, hmm
’Cause you weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His love all around me and
You don’t know the cost, not of this oil
In my alabaster box.”
It wasn’t just a song; it was a song that represented the sacrifice of two women from two different backgrounds, taking something so precious as an alabaster box and pouring it out on the Savior.
The Bible speaks of an alabaster box in two separate incidents involving women who brought ointment in the box to anoint Jesus.
One of the women sacrificed something so precious and costly to find redemption, healing, forgiveness, peace, and hope for what was lost through her actions. The Bible records her story in Matthew 26:6–13 and Mark 14:3–9.
The other saw the opportunity to sacrifice a precious ointment to anoint the Savior’s head and show Him honor before He was crucified and raised to victory. Luke 7:36–50 is the setting for her act of worship.
The woman with the heavy burden of sin took a leap of faith when she went to the house where Jesus was. She risked scrutiny for showing up unannounced to meet a man she heard could forgive her for all she had done and redeem her soul.
I’ve taken some creative liberty in the retelling of her story:
As she walked to where Jesus was, she hoped He would forgive her. Her bad decisions brought deep shame. She knew the only way to make it right was to ask the Savior for forgiveness.
Did she think about the mess she had made of her life? Did she wonder if He would reject her? Did she believe her sins were too great to receive His forgiveness? Either way, we know she was determined to try.
When she arrived at the Pharisees’ house, it doesn’t appear that she bothered to knock but quietly slipped through the door. Could it be that she thought they would throw her out if she announced her arrival?
I can imagine that when she saw Jesus, her heart rejoiced; she instinctively knew He was the One who could redeem her. She began to fall apart when she walked over to Him. Too afraid to face Him, she knelt at His feet, crying and pouring her heart out before Him asking Him to forgive her.
She wet his feet with her tears, and when she didn’t have a cloth to wipe His feet, she used her hair, soaking up the tears of her shame and sin. Then she took out the precious ointment, broke it, and poured it onto His feet. The smell of the sweet ointment filled the room; it was like a heavy weight lifted off her shoulders.
At the Savior’s feet, she could hear the others scrutinizing her presence; she listened to the harsh, hateful words, but it didn’t stop her. She wanted forgiveness, even if it meant facing ridicule. She believed Jesus could forgive her sins, so she decided to see Him anyway.
What she wanted and needed the most was forgiveness, restoration, and peace for her tormented soul. She wanted to be free. She knew that to find the forgiveness she so desperately needed, she needed to bring a sacrifice to someone so precious, so holy—the only One who could forgive her.
The women in Scripture had different reasons why they broke their alabaster box. One needed redemption, while the other gave honor to the King, who would soon be crucified and rise again.
Whatever the reasons, these two women chose to sacrifice something so precious for a man they believed was the Messiah. Both women walked away with a greater purpose and a brighter future.
When I first came to God, I felt like the woman with the alabaster box at the house of Simon the Pharisee. I was a sinner, and I needed Jesus to forgive me. I remember when I went to the altar for the first time. I had such a heavy weight of sin on my shoulders that the walk to the altar was the longest walk of my life. It was also the best walk of my life because I met Jesus, and He forgave all of my sins. I broke the alabaster box of my worship on Him that day.
Breaking the alabaster box represents breaking free from sin that holds us down and allowing God to create something beautiful in us.
When we break the alabaster box, we honor God with our sacrifice and open the door for God to take a permanent place in our hearts. We experience favor with God because of our sacrificial gifts.
The Scriptures tell us about two alabaster boxes, two women, two purposes, one Savior, the many reasons to serve Him, and love for His redeeming power.
If you, like the woman weeping at Jesus’ feet, have allowed sin to come into your life, or feel so far from God, remember that Jesus will always forgive us.
“For as the heaven is high above the earth, So great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11, KJV).
It’s time to break open the alabaster box and ask Jesus to forgive you; He can, and He will! He will not turn you away.
“He healeth the broken in heart, And bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:3-5, KJV).