Summary: “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. And He said to her ‘your sins are forgiven” Luke 7:47-48.
Theme: The Lord forgives
Text: 2 Sam. 12:7-13; Gal. 2:16, 19-21; Lk. 7:36-50
Man’s greatest need is the need for forgiveness whether he realises it or not. It is the only way to restore a broken relationship and all humanity needs to be restored to a relationship with God that was broken through sin. Many saints throughout the ages have realised their need for forgiveness. David realised his need for forgiveness after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah in an attempt to cover up his crime. He acknowledged and repented from his sin without making any excuses opening the way for God’s forgiveness. His repentance, forgiveness, and restoration serves as an example to us that no matter how terrible our sin is or how miserable and guilty we feel, we can pour out our heart to God and seek His forgiveness as David did. God is always ready to forgive us when we acknowledge and repent of our sin. This is the reason why God sent the prophet Nathan to David and this is the reason why the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. They point us to our need for forgiveness and to the Lord who forgives.
Unlike David there are many people who will not acknowledge sin in their lives. Simon, the Pharisee and the woman in today’s Scripture reading were both sinners. The difference between the two of them was that the woman acknowledged her need for forgiveness whereas Simon did not. The woman was aware of her sin and she acknowledged it. We cannot acknowledge a sin that we are not aware of. Simon was not aware he was a sinner because of his pride, neither was he aware that he had done anything wrong by the way he had treated his guest, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each person falls into one of these two categories, either that of Simon, the Pharisee or that of the woman. Like the two of them we are all sinners and need God’s forgiveness. Some people, like the woman, are aware of their sin, acknowledge them, seek forgiveness from Christ and are forgiven. They are forgiven not because of anything that they had done but because of faith in Christ Jesus as happened to the woman in Simon’s house. Jesus did not reject either the woman’s tears or her gift of ointment because her works were the evidence of her faith. She was saved by her faith alone for no amount of good works could pay for her salvation. Her faith was demonstrated by the way she overcame every obstacle in her path to come to Jesus. It was her faith that made her go into the house of a Pharisee where she knew she was not welcome. Indeed, Simon’s behaviour was not only that of someone who wanted nothing to do with her but also of someone who expected no one to have anything to do with her either. It was again by faith that she came to Jesus, as she knew that Jewish Rabbis did not speak to women in public how much more to one with a bad reputation. Forgiveness is a gift that Christ has made available to all people. Throughout the Bible we encounter a God who keeps on forgiving and loving in the face of our rejection and disobedience. All we need to do is to acknowledge and confess our sins and He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There is no limit to God’s forgiveness because God is love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. God does not want to see us as slaves of sin and the devil and He does all that is needed for us to see the state we are in and our desperate need for forgiveness. Even though we may not realise it, periods in our life that are filled with restlessness, confusion, loneliness and fear serve to point us to our need for forgiveness. God is also a God of mercy and “Christ did not come into the world to condemn us but to save us from our sin”. The society in which we live always demands justice and is troubled when crime goes unpunished. How then could a just God pardon a sinner? It is only on the basis of His mercy. Justice can only be satisfied by the punishment of the guilty. This means that if we are to be pardoned, someone else must be held responsible for our sin and punished. Jesus Christ, our Creator took our place and endured all the evil consequences due by divine justice to our sin. Christ’s sacrifice is the basis for our forgiveness, not only for past sins but also for present and future sins. The price paid for our sin is so high that we are always being made aware of our sin so that we could be cleansed. Jesus loved Simon the Pharisee, just as He loved the woman, and also gave him the opportunity to be saved. All that the woman did should have made an impact on Simon because it was all that he had failed to do to make Jesus welcome. When the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house he knew that Jesus, a Rabbi, should be recognized as a guest of honour. The customary greeting was a kiss to acknowledge the guest’s arrival. The Pharisee did not greet Jesus with a kiss, in effect ignoring Him. He did not wash or have Jesus’ feet washed as was mandatory before a meal. He also did not anoint Jesus with oil as custom demanded. He was not even aware that he had done anything wrong. The woman took on the role of the host and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed Him with the oil she had brought with her. Simon could not have failed to see the significance of her actions and instead of accepting his wrong behaviour rather felt offended by the woman’s presence. He was so convinced of his own righteousness and so busy looking at the faults in others that he failed to see the sin in his own life. Forgiveness is the unmerited favour of God. We are forgiven by our faith in the fact that Christ died for us, that He rose again from the dead and that He offers us eternal life by believing in Him. We are saved by faith alone but our faith should lead to good works.