How Much Forgiveness?
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, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears…Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
~ Luke 7:37, 50
The Pharisee in this story did not appreciate realize that Jesus knew who the woman was, and discounted Him because of it. He thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is.” Luke 7:39
But Jesus knew both what kind of woman she was, and the thoughts of the Pharisee. Imagine the Pharisee’s surprise when Jesus responded to his unspoken thought with a parable about two men who were forgiven a debt. Who would appreciate it more – the man who owed a little or the man who owed a lot? “The one who had the bigger debt canceled” the Pharisee answered. Jesus then humbled this self-righteous man by pointing out that the sinful woman was more righteous and reverent than the hypocritical Pharisee – “She wet my feet with he tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss.” Luke 7:44-45. Jesus then forgave the woman’s many sins.
“Who is this who even forgives sins?” asked the angry crowd. “Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50.
The woman was not saved through devout adherence to the law of the Pharisees. She was notoriously sinful, probably a harlot. But she was wise enough and humble enough to abase herself before her Lord and to seek his mercy, which he freely gave. Salvation by grace through faith was not an invention of Paul’s – Christ both states and demonstrates it here succinctly.
Too many of us feel that we have been forgiven only a little, and thus we are only a little grateful. Others of us feel that sin is immaterial and without consequence, but this story doesn’t allow for that attitude. Jesus’ grace was notable because it was so very necessary.
I pray that we in his church would have eyes to see that we have all been forgiven much and that we’d have the gratitude to match.
Lord, let me remember the fullness of my forgiveness, always. Amen.
~ Stephen Peterson