I have heard a lot of messages about God’s forgiveness and grace. About how someone can never be so far away that the loving arms of God and His mercy cannot reach. Most of those devotionals and sermons take short verses out of context and poorly reflect a true exposition of the Word of God. But there is no mistaking Jesus’ own words in Luke 7 that deal so directly with forgiveness and grace.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. Luke 7:40-48 KJV
A “woman” only identified as “a sinner”, makes her way into the house of Jesus’ host, a Pharisee. Imagine being an extra in a movie that somehow gets some lead screen time, only to be identified in the credits at the end of what turns out to be a blockbuster movie, as “a sinner”. That’s all history will ever know about her other than during this storyline, she cleans and wipes Jesus with her own tears and hair and anoints his feet with expensive ointment.
Simon, the Pharisee who was hosting Jesus, seemed surprised that Jesus didn’t know the reputation of this woman, since He was claiming to be a “prophet”. Surely a prophet, would know sin when He saw it and would have addressed it. This led to Simon having said to himself, not apparently verbally, doubts about Jesus’ legitimacy. That’s an important element in this passage, because Jesus answers Simon’s questioning without Simon having verbalized it. (Some might call that a clue.)
But what Jesus says next ought to be wonderful words of hope, the next time someone questions whether or not God could love them because of the multitude of their sins. Jesus’ response was that someone who has known sin extensively and intimately will not only know and experience God’s love and forgiveness, but will in turn appreciate and reciprocate love from and towards God extensively and intimately. More simply said, God doesn’t turn away the vilest offenders of sin, rather He embraces them. To be forgiven at such a level means to be capable of love at another level. And God welcomes those who love Him deeply.
Sadly, the church and Christians today are more like the pharisee. It is extremely easy for those who have been long taught in the Word, for those who have grown up in the church, for those who have been saved since childhood, to take Him for granted. Far too easy for our relationship to be so routine that we have lost our appreciation for all He has done for us. Easy for us to go about the habits of church and the Christian walk, going through the motions, but void of true and deep love for and worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We should take the lesson of this no name sinner and ask God to give us that kind of passion for love, faith, and worship and break out of the routine we have developed like Simon. Oh that we too could be counted of such worship and faith to be forever remembered as just “a sinner”.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
President / CEO
August 16, 2021