Summary: Jesus completely paid for our sins on the cross. Yet Satan will always try to "remind" us of our unworthiness and or our sins, but God the Holy Spirit wants us to know that because of our faith in Jesus, we ARE saved and God remembers our sins no more.
YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN
Stephen Becker, M.Div.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church—Elk Grove
June 17, 2007, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost
There was once a little boy and his sister visiting their grandparents on their farm. Grandpa gave the little boy a sling-shot to play with out in the wood. The boy practiced in the wood, but he could never hit his target. So, getting a little discouraged, he headed back home for dinner. As he was walking back he saw Grandma’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he took the slingshot and aimed a rock at Grandma’s duck and—you guessed it—he hit the duck square in the head and killed it. This little boy was shocked and grieved because not only had he killed the duck, but he killed something that his Grandma loved and cherished. So in a hurry, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching him. Sally had seen it all but at first she said nothing. After lunch the next day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But then Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.” Then she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, but Grandma said, “I’m sorry but I need Sally to help me make supper.” Sally just smiled and said, “Well that’s all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help you with supper.” She looked over at Johnny again and just said, “Remember the duck?” So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and those of his sister, he finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
Friends, have you had Satan throw your sins in your face? I have. There have been times, especially when I accepted the Call to the ministry or afterwards when I’ve counseled somebody on the Christian faith where Satan has butted in—to “remind” me of all the things I have done wrong in my past. Satan has tried over and over again to use my sin of the past to make me feel like I am unworthy of God’s love and unworthy of forgiveness today. The story I just read you is cute, but it is just that—a story, a sermon illustration. But in our Gospel reading today in Luke, Jesus teaches us the nature of forgiveness but using the example of the woman who washed his feet with her tears. Jesus was invited into the home of a Pharisee for dinner, and so Jesus did go to this guy’s house and sat down at the table. During the time of Jesus’ earthly mission, the Pharisees were the “so-called” religious experts of the time. They prided themselves in knowing and adhering to every little letter of the Law. These Pharisees believed that by knowing every detail of God’s Law with their minds and by blindly obeying the letter of the Law, they could earn their way into heaven. Sounds good, but as I said, they followed the Law with their mind, not with the Spirit. So for example if on the Sabbath—the day of rest—somebody became really sick…deathly sick…a Pharisee doctor would refuse to help the sick person because the letter of the Law says no work on the Sabbath. The spirit of the Law, however, didn’t matter much to them.
So Jesus went to dinner at the Pharisee’s house and in verse 37, we read about a woman who had led a sinful life who entered the room and approached Jesus. This is one of those times when the Greek is hard to translate into the English because the emphasis on this statement would be something more like, “look, a WOMAN a WOMAN who had been living in sin actually came into this room of men and approached Jesus.” Luke taking the time to tell us that she had led a sinful life in that town could very well have meant that she was a prostitute. Verse 38 says, “she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him (Jesus) 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.” This statement tells us a lot not only about the woman but also of the Pharisee host because traditionally during that time when you invited somebody over for dinner, you or your servant would wash their feet for them as they entered. So, crying because of the guilt she feels guilt for her sin in the presence of this Jesus whom she had heard so much about, she probably noticed that she got Jesus’ feet wet with her tears and so not having anything else to wipe off His feet, she uses her hair. She also kissed Jesus feet; the verb-form in the Greek is actually one that means she kissed Jesus’ feet again and again. And then continues by pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet as a show of love and respect. She undoubtedly had heard of Jesus’ reputation and so—in faith—she came to Jesus.