Christ forgives the prostitute

Christ forgives the prostitute (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” LUKE 7:36-50 MSG

If a prostitute can display humility and love, why can’t we?  I ask the question because we as Christians consider the prostitute to be less of a person than we are.  Yet when it comes to showing humility and love to our brothers and sisters we display an attitude of superiority.  This was true when Jesus was ministering and it is true today.

In this lesson, we will show you what happens when a prostitute came into Jesus present and kneels at Jesus feet where he was dinning with a room full of religious leaders.  Jesus often dines with tax collectors and others whom the religious elite thought to be sinners.  On this occasion, Jesus was dinning with the Pharisee and was a guest at the home of Simon.

Now just image for a moment when you have prepared this great dinner party for some of your best and most influential friends and invited a very important leader of the community to be your special guest.  In walks this prostitute whom your entire guest knows is a prostitute except your special guest, and she goes and sits at the feet of your most important guest.  How would you handle the situation?  Now pause, and think deeply on this for a moment before continuing to read the rest of the story.

This story begins when one of the Pharisees asked Jesus over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

This woman understood that Jesus was very special.  Perhaps she, as a sinner, had come to Jesus with great sorrow for her sin.  Perhaps she had followed John the Baptist and had confessed her sins.  She may have been in the crowds that had been following Jesus and had come to believe in Him.  She may have come to Jesus grateful for being forgiven and so offering him the gift of her valuable perfume.  To wash Jesus feet was a sign of deep humility it was the job of a slave.

But as we can clearly see here, this religious leader had no concern for this woman’s plight, no desire to lift her from her sinful life, or to help her become a better Jewish woman.  Instead, he judged her as a sinner, shoved her aside, and presumed that any other rabbi (and especially one who was a “prophet” would do the same.

Jesus knew the Pharisee’s thoughts and so spoke up and answered them.  Simon had already made a judgment of Jesus and probably felt morally superior to him as well. But Jesus had asked for his attention, so he acted like the good host.

Now here is what happen next, Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”Oh? Tell me.”  Simon said!

Then Jesus spoke and here is what he said:  “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus.  Jesus then turns to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Let us understand that Simon by inviting Jesus to be his special dinner guest had committed several social errors in neglecting to wash Jesus feet (a courtesy extended to guests because sandaled feet got very dirty), offer him the kiss of greeting, and anoint his head with oil.  The sinful woman, by contrast, lavished tears, expensive ointment, and kisses on Jesus.  In this story it is the grateful prostitute, and not the self-righteous religious leader, whose sins were forgiven.

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

This woman’s act of humility and love show that she had been forgiven.  Jesus did not overlook her sins.  He did, in fact, know that this woman was a sinner, and he knew that her sins were many.  But the fact that her many sins were forgiven caused her to overflow with much love for Jesus.  The woman’s love did not cause her forgiveness, for no one can earn forgiveness.  Her faith in Jesus, despite her many sins, saved her.  By contrast, self-righteous people, like Simon, feel that they have no sins’ that need to be forgiven; therefore they also have little love to show for it.

Although it is God’s grace through faith that saves and not acts of love or generosity, this woman’s act demonstrated her true faith, and Jesus honored her faith by telling her in no uncertain terms, “YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” Jesus supported this woman and treated her with dignity.  Believers need to demonstrate Jesus’ approach in dealing with people.

We leave you with our blessings of peace, love, purpose and power.  I remain your brother in Jesus Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher!

 

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