Grace For The Journey
Everyone owes God a debt he cannot pay. This debt has been incurred through our repeated acts of sin. Unless this debt is paid, you cannot have fellowship with God, and you cannot go to heaven when you die. Our debts may not be equal, but the consequences are very similar. Forgiveness is the merciful act of God by which He cancels the debt we cannot pay.
Before us. in our passage today, we have two sinners. One of them was publicly known as a sinner, while the other was recognized as being extremely religious. The woman was probably a prostitute and had worked her trade on the back streets of this community. The Pharisee was known for his unusual religious dedication. He invited Jesus into his home because he was curious, but the woman had invited Jesus into her life because she was sinful. Jesus said to the outcast woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Evidently Simon is still under the weight of his sins when the story closes. He was not ready to admit that he had incurred any debt that he could not pay.
With which of these two people can you most readily identify? I hope that every person present can identify with this poor rejected woman. By studying how Jesus dealt with this woman, we can learn much about forgiveness. Who knows, you might hear the Lord say to you this very day, “Your sins are forgiven!” Would that not be good news?
I. FORGIVENESS IS PROCURED BY FAITH.
At the close of this discourse Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” This is very helpful. It gives us a much needed insight into the manner in which God bestows forgiveness upon us.
A. This Means That Forgiveness Is At God’s Expense.
Faith in God pays the debt you owe Him. When this woman put her faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness, she did not present anything to Him. All she had was a life that was badly soiled with sin. She had nothing to offer to Him. Yet, because Jesus was ready to accept the responsibility for her sin, to bear the cost Himself, He could say, “Your sins
This is the message of the Cross. He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”
Since He bore them,
He can cancel our debt.
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left
Its crimson stain,
He washed it
White as snow.”
B. This Makes Forgiveness Available To All.
When the Pharisee became critical of Jesus for allowing the woman to bestow such devotion upon Him, Jesus gave the little parable about the two men in debt.
There was a considerable difference
In the debt of the two men,
Nut they were alike in their
Inability to pay the debt.
One man owed his creditor five hundred denarii. A man would labor for a whole day for one denarii. You can see the size of his debt. The other owed the creditor fifty denarii. This would take his wages for fifty whole days of work. But neither of them was in a position to pay what he owed. Because of the generosity of the creditor, his willingness to absorb the cost of their unpaid debt, both were forgiven their debt. All they had to do was accept the generosity of their creditor. This was the only thing that gave this woman any hope. Unless God was willing to absorb the cost of this woman’s debt, she was without any hope. The same was true for Simon even though he did not realize it. Making forgiveness available to those who come to God in faith makes it available to all.
Some of you have given up hope of ever being right with God. You are painfully aware of the debt that you owe. You know that you cannot do anything about it. In spite of your best efforts, the debt keeps growing day by day. The Good News is that God’s forgiveness comes to those who will receive it by faith.
But the wonderful truth does not stop there . . .
II. FORGIVENESS PRODUCES LOVE.
This is a beautiful story of love that is understood only when you see that love is the fruit of forgiveness. Two responses to Jesus stand in bold contrast in this text. This woman whose reputation was bad in the community demonstrated a great love for the Lord Jesus. Jesus explained her action as being an expression of the love that comes from forgiveness. In verses 40- 47, Jesus said to Simon of the woman, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me not water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you her sins which many are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Jesus did not mean that the woman
Was forgiven because she loved Him,
But rather her love is the sure evidence
That she had already been forgiven.
Three important truths are brought out here . . .
A. Forgiveness Produces A Grateful Love.
The woman was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. As she stood at the feet of our Lord in the house of Simon, and considered who He was and what He had done, it was almost too much for her. Her own sense of unworthiness and gratitude for His goodness brought a stream of tears to her eyes. These tears began to fall on the feet of the Lord that Simon had neglected to wash. She was so grateful that she was ready to do anything for her Lord.
The actions of Simon indicate that he was curious about Jesus, but had no real love or devotion for Him. He would entertain Him in his home, but he would not bow before Jesus in worship. The difference between these two responses is forgiveness. One had been forgiven, while the other felt no need of forgiveness.
B. Forgiveness Produces A Sacrificial Love.
The gesture of the sinful woman was sacrificial. She brought with her a “flask of fragrant oil.” It would have been proper for the host to have anointed the head of Jesus with olive oil which was plentiful and cheap. Simon did not even bestow this courtesy upon the Lord. But this woman brought something of great worth to her. The flask was made of alabaster which was expensive. The flask was filled with perfumed oil that was also expensive. It was doubtlessly representative of the very best that this woman had. She broke the neck on the flask and began to pour it on the feet of Jesus. She did not think that her best was too good to go on His head. This is the way love reacts. It gives sacrificially.
This love must be explained by the forgiveness that she had received. How much love do you have for Jesus our Lord? According to this parable and incident, this is determined by your awareness of God’s forgiveness. Those who feel that they have been forgiven little love little. All of us who have been forgiven have been forgiven much so we should love much. We should have such a sacrificial love.
C. Forgiveness Produces A Selfless Love.
It is obvious that this woman forgot about herself. Her love for her Lord caused her to do things that shocked the proper religious folks like Simon. When she took down her hair and began to wipe the feet of Jesus, it was a thing which a proper woman just did not do in public. A woman did not take her hair down in this way. When she began to
kiss the feet of Jesus, it was the kind of gesture that was reserved for unusual circumstances. You kissed the feet only of those from whom you had received a great favor, or to whom you were making a great surrender.
It was her way
Of publicly declaring,
“You are supreme
In my life.”
Evidently the woman said nothing through the whole encounter, but she did not need to. Her actions said everything that needed to be said.
Simon could not take this in. Religious people who seek to live life by the rules still have difficulty with this kind of action, but not the forgiven.
Forgiveness will produce a quality
Of love that will shock the world.
III. FORGIVENESS PRECEDES PEACE.
The last word of Jesus to this woman is very significant. In verse 50 Jesus said to her, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” He could say this only to one to whom He had already said, “your sins are forgiven.”
Only the forgiven
Can know this peace.
A. Forgiveness Precedes Peace With God.
This was a word that sent the woman away with the favor of God upon her life. When she had sinned, she had brought the wrath of God upon her life. But when God forgave her, his wrath was removed, and replaced with His peace. He began to bless the life with prosperity and spiritual fullness. You may have been looking for this. It comes
when you know that your sins are forgiven.
B. Forgiveness precedes peace with oneself.
When you begin to be aware of your sin, you begin to hate that sin. Sin is so destructive to one’s self-image, and sense of self -orth. Unless you can know that your sins have been forgiven, you will never begin to be at peace with yourself, to wish for yourself prosperity. Some of you walk under such a load of guilt that you unconsciously set yourself up for hurtful failures. You cannot let yourself prosper as you are because of what you have done. Jesus sent this poor woman home rich in peace.
You cannot change the order. It will always be forgiveness and then peace. If you are trying to find peace without finding forgiveness for your sins, you are wasting your time. Peace comes to the forgiven.
As we bring our study to a close, let me ask you, “Where do you find yourself in this story?” Are your more like the woman or like Simon? I pray that you can identify
with this woman. You do not have to have been a prostitute or thief to identify with her. If he could only have seen it . . .
Simon’s religious pride
Was just as offensive
To God as her immorality.
Simon’s attitude toward women like her was just as bad as her sin. If you can identify with her at the point of need, you can know that you have been forgiven.
The blessing of forgiveness comes to those who come to God in faith. Do not make this too hard. This simply means that you come to Him just like you are, confessing your inability to pay your debt and pleading for mercy. You receive His forgiveness as a free gift. Won’t you do that right now? Come to Jesus and be forgiven!
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”