“A Christian should know, better than anyone, the depravity of the human condition and the need for forgiveness. God took a chance on you. Are you taking a chance on others?“
In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is attending a dinner party at a Pharisee’s house when it is interrupted by a woman who, we are told, has “lived a sinful life”. The woman is anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and with perfume and she is drying His feet with her hair. When the Pharisee, named Simon, saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (v39). Jesus proceeds to teach Simon a lesson in forgiveness.
Jesus turns to the woman and tells her that her sins are forgiven. The other guests at Simon the Pharisee’s house start grumbling among themselves. They are thinking things like “Who does he think he is? Why does he think he can forgive her sins? Doesn’t he know who she is and what she’s done?” (v49).
When you give your life to Jesus, there will be people who find it hard to believe. They will look back on your past and say “There’s no way she could be forgiven. Do you know what she’s done?” People will try to hold your past mistakes against you as a reason for not being eligible for a spot in their exclusive Christian circle. They will dig up old Tweets. They might scroll for incriminating Facebook pictures. They may search for mugshots and criminal records. But not Jesus. Jesus sees someone who has left it all behind to cling to Him. Someone who laid it all at His feet, drowning it in a pool of tears.
This woman had many sins, but that did not make her ineligible for forgiveness. Instead, it caused her to run to Jesus and cling to Him. She was forgiven much, therefore she loved much (v47).
Christians should be the first people to offer forgiveness. A Christian should know, better than anyone, the depravity of the human condition and the power of forgiveness displayed through Jesus’ saving work on the cross. Since we have been forgiven, we should know, first-hand, the importance of forgiving others. Sadly, that is not always the case. Many non-Christians view The Church as judgmental, hypocritical, and conceited. In some cases, they are not far off. Too many Christians are acting more like Pharisees and less like Jesus. They are sticking up their noses and pointing their finger at those whose life choices seem to be “beneath them”.
Pharisees had a “holier than thou” attitude towards others. They viewed themselves as the religious elite of the time. Anyone who would not, or could not, meet their standards were considered outsiders or unworthy. They held their heads high and looked down on the downtrodden, rather than helping them and showing grace. They knew the law inside and out, and carried themselves like they had it all together. Sadly, they often failed to see people the way that Jesus saw them: as sinners in need of a savior.
Are you a modern day Pharisee? How are you responding when you see struggling people chasing Christ? What happens when you imagine a prostitute showing up to the women’s Bible study group? What goes through your mind when you see a recovering addict attend church? How about when the offering plate gets passed down the pew of a formerly convicted thief? Are you rejoicing that they are looking to Jesus? Or are you skeptical and judgemental? Do you celebrate at the thought of someone who was once lost being found? Or are you grumbling to yourself “I know what they’ve done!“.
Do you require people to “get their act straight” before you will give them the time of day? Do people have to become a member of your church, or denomination, before you will befriend them? Are there certain spiritual conditions or levels of righteousness that are prerequisites to your offering of assistance? Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God didn’t wait for the world to be holy and righteous before sending Jesus. If the world were already perfect, there would have been no need for a Savior. Even though the world was, and still is, filled with evil and turmoil, Christ died for us.
God took a chance on you. Are you taking a chance on others? Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,…“. Are you welcoming, or are you condemning?
If you are feeling more like the woman in the story, there is good news. Realizing the fact that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) is a crucial moment in our lives because it brings us to a crossroads. It can cause us shame and regret due to our failures, or we can choose to let it lead us to repentance. Take heart in the promise that those who are in Christ are a new creation. The old you is in the past. You have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
Don’t listen to the voices of the crowd talking amongst themselves. Stop spinning your wheels trying to appear more righteous and clean-cut in order to be accepted into the club of “conservative Christianity”. Instead, take comfort in knowing you are accepted by Christ.
Jesus says to the sinful woman, and to you, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50). Listen to the voice of Truth who assures you that you are forgiven and you are loved. Put your trust in Jesus’ words and you too will go in peace.