Isaiah 43:25; Luke 7:36-50
I have often said that one of the greatest things that we can do for one another is to practice forgiveness. It should be a part of a Christian’s lifestyle.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Our forgiveness can only go so far, and many of us harbor areas in our heart that we will not forgive. God’s forgiveness is much greater than ours in that it is perfect forgiveness. Let me try to create a picture in your mind about forgiveness. Imagine that you begin to receive letters and phone calls from your various creditors. One by one, your credit card debt, student loans, car loans, and mortgages are forgiven. You no longer have to pay for them any more. You have become officially debt free. Did you know that no amount of financial debt you accumulate on this earth compares to the debt we owe God for our sin? In Isaiah 43:25, we can see that God has the ability to forgive our debt completely. He blots it out as if it were never there. Then we see that He does it for His own sake. He desires to have fellowship with us, and He desires the glory for it. Then it says that He will no longer remember our sins. I could camp for a while on the idea of dredging up what God has forgiven and chosen to forget. In our account, a Pharisee named Simon has invited Jesus to his home for a meal. If you do not understand the customs of this time period, you may not be able to see why things happened as they did. When a dinner was held, the host would treat his guest with the utmost respect. As you entered the house, either the host or a servant would wash your feet. The guest was then greeted with a kiss, and then the head was anointed with oil. Another ting that we probably are not familiar with is that these dinners were kind of open to the public. Not that everyone could come and eat, but all were welcome to gather outside of the home to listen to the conversation. It goes without saying that when Jesus had something to say, the people wanted to hear what it was. He was one that was radically changing their thinking on the things of God. He was teaching to go beyond the letter of the Law and to apply the spirit of the Law. Not commit adultery, to even looking on a woman with lust. As Simon and Jesus were having their dinner, a woman walks into the room. What is she doing here? Does she not know who my guest is? Then the woman went to the feet of Jesus and began to weep. She washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. Then she anointed His feet with ointment. Simon is simply appalled. How can He let her touch Him? Doesn’t He know what kind of woman that she is? She is a sinner. The thoughts of Simon lead to this short parable of Christ. 500 pence equals about a year and a half of wages. The other owed about a month and a half. Who would appreciate it more? The one who felt the most forgiven. Now understand, we are not dealing with the amount of sin, or the action of sin, we are dealing with the awareness of sin. Its like this:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
The woman understood the true nature of her sin, and had experienced forgiveness. Simon didn’t get it. He was so stuck on the outward appearance wasn’t able to see the reality of his wicked heart, he didn’t see his need for a Saviour. We do not know when this woman got saved, but we know that she was. The prostitute can be forgiven, the dope head, the murderer, the adulterer, the abusive, the liar, the thief. Because you heard the truth, and humbled your heart, and received my gift—you are forgiven. Simon says she is a sinner, but Christ says she has been forgiven. It’s like the woman who was on her deathbed and the family said, “Do you want us to get the chaplain?” She said yes. A few moments later the chaplain walked in and he was a priest. He said to her, “Do you need to be forgiven of your sins?” She said, “Le me see your hand. Oh, you can’t help me, the only one who can forgive my sins has nail prints in His hands.” What can wash away my sins?
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Nothing but the blood… Now do not confuse the story in your mind. This woman was not washing Jesus feet for salvation; she was doing it because of salvation. Our forgiveness should move us to action. Everyone sitting around listening, maybe trying to trip up Jesus, or catch Him in some inconsistency. She says in her heart, “I just can’t sit here.” Good works prior to salvation are meaningless.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Good works after salvation are a mark of the change.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
This morning you are sitting in one of three places.
- You are still in your sins, you have not yet experienced God’s perfect forgiveness. The amount or the action is not the issue, the awareness is the issue.
- Sitting next to Simon. I am not as bad as she is. I am here every Sunday. If you are saved there ought to be something in you soul that says, I just can’t sit here. Going to church is not just a show where you wait to be served. Self righteous people aren’t saved people.
- Sitting at the feet of Jesus, saved, serving, and surrendered.
George Wilson was a horse thief condemned to die by hanging. President Andrew Jackson wrote a pardon for his crimes. Mr. Wilson rejected the pardon and was hanged. The chief supreme court justice looked at the pardon and came to this conclusion. “A pardon is simply a piece of paper. If it is rejected then the punishment must stand.” God has written you a pardon and unless you accept it your future holds the wrath and punishment of God. It is so simple:
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Are you thankful for your forgiveness? Does your life as a Christian show it? God has agreed to blot your sins for His sake and has chosen to remember them no more.