Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

We need forgiveness! This forgiveness must not be a “one time” event but a continuing state. Stated simply, we cannot “be good” in the sense that God is good. We “goofed”! We repeatedly “goofed”! If God wiped our slates clean but once, we would sin again. None of us are even aware of all our sins! We sin “ignorantly” constantly!

Long ago it was commonly believed that God forgave once—at baptism. Once God forgave, He forgave no more. There arose the practices of (1) guessing when you would die and (2) postponing baptism until anticipated “death time.” Why? So the person might receive God’s forgiveness when he had little time to sin and did not wish to sin. The problems: (1) People delayed baptism too long by dying sooner than expected, (2) God was completely misunderstood, and (3) Sin was completely misunderstood. The result: people lived and died in anxiety, not the peace Jesus came to bring.

Obedience does not earn salvation. It says, “Thank you!” to God for what He did for us in Jesus Christ. No human act places God in debt. We cannot earn anything. We serve God wholeheartedly because we deeply appreciate what God did for all in Christ through Jesus’ death. The more we see our need for forgiveness, the more appreciative we are of God’s gift. The more we fail to see our sinfulness, the more arrogant we become.

We needed an enduring solution that worked. In Christ we find God’s enduring solution that works—regardless of who we are, what we did, and how much we need to grow.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 18 December 2008

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