Summary: Sermon regarding the forgiveness of Christ and how we are to extend it to others.
Lessons in Forgiveness
Sept. 1, 2001
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.
"But I don’t ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."
"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.
"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."
"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman’s son.
Our passage of Scripture today focuses on an episode where Jesus exemplified mercy, though not in the earthly sense, but rather in the eternal sense.
It is the story of a woman who does not deserve mercy, yet finds it in the face of the Savior.
And as we look at this passage, I want us to note how Jesus responds to the people in the story, particularly the Pharisee and the sinful woman.
Keep this in mind as we read the passage and look at the lessons we can learn.
My purpose this morning is to extend the offer of forgiveness from Christ to any who would seek it.
Please read along as I read this passage. If you are using the Bibles in the seats, this passage can be found on page 731.
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner."
40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
I want to talk about three things about how Christ offers forgiveness that are illustrated in this passage. And the first is that…
I. Forgiveness knows no social structure.
It is not only for the privileged few, nor for the not-so-privileged many.
Jesus places no class restrictions on forgiveness. And all through Scripture Jesus reaches out to the rich and poor alike.
In this passage we have an interesting study in contrasts regarding how sinners are viewed.
Verse 39 tell us that Simon had no doubts of the woman was. She was a sinner.
The Pharisee saw sinners as impure to be avoided at all costs in order to not become unclean. He keeps a woman like this one at a great distance, making it clear that her lifestyle (whatever it was – Scripture doesn’t tell us the nature of her sinfulness) is not endorsed.
Jesus, on the other hand, talks and preaches about sin, but he does not isolate Himself from sinners.
He understands that for the light to shine in the darkness, the light must engage the darkness.
This woman had a notorious reputation, yet Jesus received her into His company, and extended His divine forgiveness.
Let’s bring this home a bit. What if someone like Hugh Hefner or Madonna came to our church seeking to be at the feet at the Jesus?