Forgiven: No Greater Blessing

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Why would a man invite someone whom he despised to supper? Simon the Pharisee did just that. He invited Jesus to dine with him. But his feelings were clear from the beginning. The accepted custom was for the host to ensure that a servant washed a guest’s feet as he entered: to relieve him of the dust from the road and refresh him for the meal. Simon did not do this (Luke 7:44). Neither did the Pharisee offer a kiss of friendship when Jesus came into his house (7:45). Certainly he never honoured the Lord by recognizing him by anointing him with oil (7:46).

The signs were all there. This was an inquisition not an invitation to dinner.

But one lone woman messed it all up. How “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (7:37) got into Simon’s dining  room is a mystery. Mind you, God does move in mysterious ways so it is quite possible that she walked in because God ensured that she was invisible to doorkeepers and servants. Simon saw her and was incensed. Jesus saw her and was merciful.

When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (7:37, 38).

Simon thought “to himself” (7:39) that if Jesus was who He said he was, he would know the “kind of woman she was—that she was a sinner” (7:39). He certainly did. Jesus then proceeded to forgive her sins (7:47, 48).

Take a look at this woman.

She dared everything to get to Jesus. A woman would never have been allowed into the dining room during a meeting of men—certainly not a woman of her reputation.

She wept because she knew what she was—a sinner.

She recognized Who Jesus was—and treated Him accordingly by washing His feet and anointing His head.

She sacrificed probably her most precious resources to honour Him. That flask of perfume was not cheap.

She asked nothing, perhaps thinking that she deserved nothing. Her tears would have said it all even if the Lord hadn’t been able to read her heart.

The Lord saw, not only her actions, but her heart. “Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (7:50).

Just prior to this particular episode in Jesus’ life we have the record of His words of rebuke to the cities of the region that refused to repent despite the miracles that their populations saw Him do (Matthew 11:20-30). The section ends with an invitation to repentance: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The woman who crashed the “party” at Simon’s house took Jesus up on that invitation. When she left, she left her sin behind, the weight of guilt and shame was gone. She went out a “lighter” woman because of the mercy shown to her by Jesus. She went out in peace, with peace. She walked out with a life now eternally connected to Christ. We don’t know anything about the rest of the story. We don’t know what happened to this woman after she walked out of Simon’s house—except that she was free for the first time in her life.

That’s what forgiveness does. There is never too much sin for Jesus to forgive. There is never too much guilt or shame for Him to carry away. The invitation is there even after all these years. And for those of us who have experienced that forgiveness, there is no greater blessing.

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