When we realise the extent of Jesus’ forgiveness it transforms our lives, for we have been forgiven much.
In our readings this morning God led Jeremiah to a potter where he saw him remould ruined clay and God told him that for those who repent who seek God’s forgiveness they can be remoulded, reshaped too (Jeremiah 18:1-11). Paul in his letter to Philemon gives thanks for the church where Philemon serves because of their love for the Lord and for each other. He desires for them to do their duty, living in obedience in service of God because of Jesus’ love (Philemon 1-21). And in our gospel reading we see an extraordinary offering to Jesus showing acknowledgement of His love and forgiveness. This woman knew the weight of her sin and seemed to know what Jesus would do for her. She knew the seriousness of her sin. And showed her gratitude (Luke 7:36-50).
How do we view sin?
I have two stories of events in my childhood that might help us think about that. Because how we view sin affects how we view Jesus’ forgiveness – his love for us.
I came home from school once, I think I was 5 or 6 and said ‘Mummy I’m so ashamed’ …….I don’t remember this, this is one of the stories told round the dinner table at family occasions. But I said – ‘Mummy I’m so ashamed.’ So Mum with her serious and listening face asked me, ‘darling why do you say that?’ – As it turned out I had been playing at school with a friend called Simeon and we’d been pretending to make dinner and we were making grass soup, picking the grass from the bank. A teacher had seen us do this, told us off and probably said words like – you should be ashamed of yourself – this encounter had left me ashamed! Should it?
Another time we were queuing to go out for break a long line of us, people were shoving back and forwards – I gave as good as I was given, except that when I shoved, the girl at the front of the queue had opened the door and fell out. I remember being made to stand in the corner of the cloak room, crying because I hadn’t been the only one shoving, it felt so unfair? Was it unfair? Should I have accepted what I did wasn’t right?
Sometimes we mess up in life and feel sorry for what we’ve done. Sometimes we feel more sorry than we should, other times we might not feel sorry enough. We might not think it was truly our fault and think punishment isn’t fair.
God dislikes sin, but the joy of the Christian faith is that he has provided a way for our sins to be forgiven.
The joy of forgiveness sometimes makes us forget about the seriousness of sin. There are other times when we become obsessed with all the things we do wrong and can feel a sense of hopelessness not fully realising the joy of Jesus’ forgiveness.
God dislikes all sin. Even the small sins come from a place that is not pleasing to God that can be self-seeking. The important thing is that when we do mess up we admit that we messed up and then try and make it right. Whether we think – its not that bad a sin, or whether its something that will drastically affect our lives.
The important thing to note is that there is no sin too big that it can’t be forgiven by our loving God
Today the lady in our gospel reading had sinned. They call her a sinner. It doesn’t say what they were—it’s not important—but we know from her actions that she was very, very sorry. She felt so bad in fact, that she went to see Jesus in someone’s house–when she wasn’t even invited!
Imagine you were in that house. The events unfold. What would have been your feelings and reactions to what happened?
This sinner approaches Jesus – and washes his feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair and pours over oil – what made her do this?
In this story we have Jesus, the woman and the pharisee
I wonder What was the woman feeling that made her approach Jesus, anoint his feet with perfumed oil, weep and wipe tears away with her hair?
This was a big social no no – the oil would be an expense, Jewish ladies wouldn’t unbind their hair in public.
One commentator writes: She was completely oblivious of public opinion in the grip of her deep emotion.
The woman reacted to Jesus’ presence in this way because this woman knew who Jesus was – knew what she had done and she understood Jesus love and forgiveness
How about the Pharisee?
Why did he react with grumbling – questioning Jesus for allowing such a thing?
He hadn’t really understood who Jesus was and what he had come to do.
How about Jesus?
He takes her actions and the Pharisees grumbling and uses the opportunity to teach once more about what he was on earth to do.
He uses this parable…..
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
A denarii was a days pay – so one owed 500 days worth of wages and the other 50 – both unable to repay.
Jesus wanted those present to connect this story of debt with the knowledge of individuals’ sins and the forgiveness he had come to offer through his future death and resurrection.
He compared the actions of the woman with that of his host. It was usual practise to offer water to honoured guests to wash ones feet – this had not been done. A kiss of welcome might be offered – this was not provided by the host either.
Jesus finishes his teaching moment with this verse:
‘Her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little’
The woman who the world viewed as having great sin was like the person that owed 500 denarii and maybe the pharisee was like the man that owed 50. The woman showed her love in the way she did because she understood how much she had been forgiven, whereas the Pharisee appeared to love Jesus less in comparison because maybe as his sin was less in the world’s eyes he hadn’t fully understood the significance of forgiveness that Jesus was proclaiming he could offer.
What does that mean for us?
It means that we acknowledge the times when we don’t live God’s way – understanding that there is no sin too great that Jesus would not forgive it. So if we need to say sorry to someone, if we need to do something we haven’t done, if we need to say sorry to God – let’s do that
It means living lives of joy and thankfulness because of everything Jesus has done on the cross – the knowledge of our forgiveness through Jesus should be turned into gratitude, love of Jesus, making us people of real joy. Offering our lives, our worship to God – knowing how great God is!
It changes the way we live. Impacts our lives, in how we view Jesus, how we see others through his eyes and with his love and how we care for each other and our friends and neighbours.
Because all of us have been forgiven much we give thanks to Jesus for his love and so live our lives for him.