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Easter is the biggest day in the Christian calendar. It’s when we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. And when Christ resurrected from the grave, He gave us the right to access God’s great forgiveness.
Forgiveness is messy and complicated.
When someone hurts us, we hurt on a deep cellular level. Despite this, forgiveness is something we need to go forward in our progress as a people.
Luke 7:36-50 says, “When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 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.
“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she’s a sinner.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘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?’
“Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’ ‘You’ve judged correctly,’ Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water from my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’
“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’
Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ ”
Here’s some context: “Pharisee” means separated ones. In this Jewish sect, these individuals lived in cloistered communities because they did not want to be defiled by people who did not believe what they believed or conducted themselves the way they did.
Pharisees were legalists. They were concerned about bringing the strictest level of adherence to the Sabbath laws and they wanted to make sure their religious performances were just right.
Now let’s jump back into the story. Jesus is there in this Pharisee’s home. He’s reclining at the table, and suddenly, this woman maneuvers her way into the house. She comes into the “male space” in the dining area where the men—Jesus, His disciples, the Pharisee, and his buddies—are sitting around reclining at the table.
Then this woman comes in, making a commotion, and she starts weeping uncontrollably. As she’s pouring out her tears on Jesus’ feet, the Pharisee poses a question because he knows the kind of woman she is.
Is Forgiveness Possible?
In other words, can a life that’s deeply stained be wiped clean? Can someone so damaged receive a second chance?
Jesus is telling us through this story that the answer to that question is unequivocal—YES.
Yes, you can be forgiven of all your sins.
There are two characters in this story we must pay close attention to because both need forgiveness. First, we see the woman. Her life was stained by sin. Then there’s the pharisee. His life was filled with self-righteousness. They were polar opposites, but they both needed to be forgiven. He needed to be forgiven because of his obnoxious, prideful posture, thinking God had obviously forgiven him because he’s so good and pure.
But Jesus was trying to help him understand he was just as guilty as that woman was.
They were as different as night and day. One was a legalist. The other was lawless. One was dutiful, while the other was defiant.
Most scholars agree this woman was a prostitute. She had lived a sinful life and her reputation in Bethany was that she was so entrenched in her sin that change seemed impossible. Why then did Jesus allow her to come close to Him, wipe His feet with her hair and pour tears on Him?
Something happened to this woman where she’d experienced forgiveness.
Let me ask you a question: Are you in need of forgiveness?
The Bible tells us five times in this passage that this sin issue is very damaging. This issue of sin almost ruins a person’s life. The Apostle Paul speaks to it years later and says the wages of sin is death. In other words, for anybody who sinned even one single simple sin, its cost is eternal death—separation from God and eternal damnation.
But the beauty is this:
Jesus Christ forgives sin. And He forgives sinners.
Going back to the previous question, is forgiveness possible?
Yes, but to experience it, I must ask you this critical question:
Are you sorry?
I’m not talking about surface-level sorry. I’m talking about a deep sorry—the repentant kind of sorry.
Something happened to this woman and the culture of that day gives us some clues. When a wealthy person would host a dinner, they allowed the poor people in the community to go through the back door, into the kitchen area and take leftovers home. That was their part of a gesture of philanthropy. This woman, however, found out that Jesus was dining at Simon the Pharisee’s home, and she wanted to convey that something had happened to her on some earlier occasion, dealing with Jesus. She must have been at one of his crusades or in an audience when He was preaching.
Now, put yourself in her shoes.
This woman is sin-stained and has a bad reputation for living a disgraceful life in her community. She gets this alabaster bottle of perfume, gets into the house and sneaks her way through the different rooms. She finds Jesus dining with Simon the Pharisee, and all the other men around. Then she starts to pour the perfume on Jesus’ feet.
All eyes are on her.
As she pours out this perfume as a symbol of love for Jesus, she does something Jewish women did not do in public. She pulls her hair out of the rolled-up coiled bun. More context: Jewish women never let their hair hang loose in public because it was an act of shame. Subsequently, her tears began to wet the feet of Jesus. She couldn’t ask for a cloth or a towel, so she used her hair to start to dry Jesus’ feet.
Because her tears had wet his feet, that tells me that something must have happened in this woman’s heart at a previous encounter with Jesus. Maybe she was in a crowd and heard Jesus preaching about this new life and how God can forgive you of sin when you come to accept Christ as savior. And then, perhaps she asked, “Can God forgive someone like me?”
Her life starts to roll around in her mind. The years that she’s been morally bankrupt, the years that she wasted, and, somehow, she gets to the place where she says to herself:
“I have nothing to lose. I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done. I repent of my sins, which means I turn away from them and turn to God.”
And that day everything changed. Everything shifted.
Nothing was the same.
I want you to know that you can be changed. God is in the business of saving lives. Jesus saved this woman. And so she wanted to come that day to the Pharisee’s home and deal with the issue of fear, embarrassment and the sense of shame.
But she had to tell Jesus,
“I’m sorry for how I’ve lived. Thank you for saving my life.”
Are you sorry for your sins?
One of the most challenging things I deal with is helping self-righteous people find salvation because they think they’re good enough. Let me ask you another question.
Does self-righteousness bind you? You may wonder, “What do you mean bound by self-righteousness?”
Do you compare yourself with others and let that become the basis of feeling that you’re safe and secure? If you do, congratulations, you’re self-righteous. I want you to see God saves self-righteous people just as He does those who are blatantly sinful.
Now it’s your move.
What are you going to do?
As she’s returning home, the unnamed woman, this fragrance follows her. It wasn’t the alabaster scent that got on Jesus. The scent that was all over her was a scent of forgiveness.
Jesus made her new.
Jesus made her clean.
Paul speaks to it in 2 Corinthians 2:15. He says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”
If I got close to you and I took a whiff, would I smell new life? I’m not being silly, I assure you.
Something happened to that woman that was real.
She made a move, and that’s what I’m asking you to do.
The move is simply this:
Come to Jesus, admit your sin, and receive His pardon.
It’s just two simple things.
You come to Jesus and admit your sin.
You receive his pardon.
What are you going to do?
It’s your move.
Will you accept God’s pardon that He extends to you in the person of Jesus?
Like this woman did and so many millions of people around the globe, they’ve accepted Christ as Savior.
Will you make this move, or will you glibly say, “I’m good, I’ll pass on that”?
If you don’t make the move, you’re saying—in essence—like Simon the Pharisee in his self-righteousness, “I’m good.”
Jesus told him, to put it plainly, “No, you are not in a good place. You may be better off morally, but you are still not in a place of safety with God because the wages of sin is death.”
But the gift from God is eternal life.
I want to give you this awesome opportunity to make the move and say to God:
“I’m sorry for how I’ve lived. I’m sorry for the way I’ve been, and I’m sorry for my choices. I want to get things right today, right now, right here.”
May I pray with you about coming to Jesus, saying you’re sorry and receiving his forgiveness?
Repeat after me these words:
Heavenly Father, I’ve tried to live my life in the best possible way, but I’ve gotten it wrong so many times, and on so many levels.
I need you to come into my heart.
Lord Jesus, wash away my sins and change me. Help me serve you every day of my life, starting right now in Christ’s name.
Welcome to God’s family!
If you prayed that prayer, click HERE and let me know so I can help you take your next steps in this new life in Christ.