A legend that says long ago, there lived a chieftain, known not only as a strong warrior but also a wise leader who gave his people laws which guided every aspect of life. He enforced these laws strictly, and had a reputation for uncompromising justice.
One day it came to the leader’s attention someone in the tribe was stealing. He called his people together. “You know the laws are given to help you live in peace,” he reminded them. “This stealing must stop. We all have what we need. The penalty for theft has been increased from 10 to 20 lashes.”
But the thief continued to steal, so the chief called the people together again. “Please hear me,” he pled with them. “This must stop. It hurts us all when one steals from his neighbor. The penalty has been increased to 30 lashes.”
Still, the thief continued to steal. Once more, the leader gathered his people and spoke to them. “Please, I’m begging you. For your own sake, this has to stop. The penalty has been increased to 40 lashes.” Those who were near saw a single tear run down his cheek.
Finally, the day came when the thief was caught red-handed. As the leader arrived and the crowd parted, the shock hit him. The thief was his own mother, old and frail.
What will he do? the people wondered aloud. Will he uphold the law, or will he sacrifice justice for the love of his mother?
This is the problem of forgiveness.
The Bible tell us the God of the Universe is all powerful, all wise, and perfectly just. He’s given us His moral laws to help us live in peace. In His perfect justice, He encourages us to do what is right and decrees sin be punished severely.
But each and every one of us stands guilty before Him. We have all deliberately done what we know is wrong. And yet He still loves us- even more than this chief loved his frail, elderly mother. God’s Law demands punishment- God’s love desires forgiveness. Justice demands the guilty be punished, but love longs for some way to save the sinner from condemnation. How can you find forgiveness and yet still meet the demands of justice? How can you and I find God’s forgiveness?
This is what I want to talk with you about this morning. Jesus Christ offers us a solution to this problem which can be found in the story of Luke 7:36-50. Let’s begin with vs. 36-38.
Finding God’s forgiveness involves understanding 3 important truths:
I. YOU’VE GOT TO ADMIT YOU NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS (v. 36-38)
Before you can experience God’s forgiveness, you have to humble yourself enough to confess your need for His forgiveness.
Evangelist Eddie Martin once conducted a crusade in Bluefield, West Virginia. At the altar call a well-dressed woman came forward.
It was Rev. Martin’s custom to have them repeat the sinner’s prayer with him. He took her hand and prayed, "Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner. I know I can’t save myself. I need forgiveness for my awful sins. Please [forgive] me, Jesus." But as he prayed, she was silent. He asked her, "Don’t you want to be saved?" She said, "Yes, I want to be saved, but I’m not a sinner." "Then you can’t be saved," he said. "Jesus only died for sinners." "But Rev. Martin - I’m a good sinner!"