Pastor Drew Williams
This last week, I was talking to a friend about watches, because mine had recently started to not work as well, and so I was asking him about different types of watches, smart watches, normal watches, because he has way better fashion sense than me.
And so I was going down the rabbit hole of researching what different types of watches say about you. Do I want to be known as punctual and frugal? Get a simple watch from Target.
Do I want to say that I love the 80s? Get a calculator watch.
Am I quirky and fun-loving? Mickey Mouse watch. The one where Mickey’s hands tell the time.
Am I healthy and tech-wise? Smart watch with a heart monitor.
Am I wealthy and refined? Get a designer watch like a Rolex or Omega.
But then if you get a nice watch, you’d better have some nice shoes to go with them. And probably a nicer car. Because all these things are status symbols, aren’t they?
Status symbols are the way we communicate to everyone else whether we’re better than them or not, right?
And even though I’m sure YOU’VE never acted this way, there are many people who get so caught up in these status symbols that they say things like, “I would never be caught dead without my Dior handbag.” Or they say, “Oh, nice car. What year is it? Oh, I see, well I just got the latest model.”
No, you’ve never said anything like that. Those are the things that caricature villains in soap operas say. No, we say things like, “Oh wow, yeah, WE only shop at WholeFoods for our produce.”
“I’ve actually lived in this house since before the area got built up. You wouldn’t believe what we paid for it compared to what it’s worth now!”
Status symbols are the things we use lift ourselves up and they are the basis by which we judge others. Are they on our level? Are they to be envied or pitied?
And status symbols are not new inventions. For all of human history, people have been separating themselves into groups based on social class. And today’s story from Luke will give us a glimpse at how Jesus responds in the middle of a situation dealing with status and honor. So let’s read Luke 7:36-8:3…
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 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. 38 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.
39 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 is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 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?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 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 for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Parable of the Sower
8 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Before we start to examine the details of this passage more fully, we need to back up and be reminded of what society was like in first century Israel.
The culture at the time had very strict social hierarchies and fragmented groups. People from higher levels of society didn’t really spend any time with lower class people. In order to find your place in the community, you connected with others in your same industry, or social class.
For instance, the fishermen formed a guild to stay connected and help oversee the fishing industry. Leather workers would do the same. Builders would do the same. Religious leaders would, you guessed it, do the same.
These guilds and groups would hold regular meetings for business, but it would almost always be in the context of a shared meal. So Yoseph, who was in the fisherman’s guild, let’s say, would offer to host the next fishermen’s guild meeting where he lived.
Yoseph lived in a single room with his family that was part of a U-shaped building that had 9 different rooms that all opened onto a courtyard. 9 family units lived there, sharing the common area that opened onto the street.
So when Yoseph is hosting the guild meeting, he’s going to let his neighbors know, because he’s going to be reserving the common area. His neighbors are all from different groups, so they’re not really going to be a part of the meeting. But they still live in the building, so during Yoseph’s meeting, when discussions are happening about next season’s fishing territories and negotiating better prices at the market, there will also be other people coming and going around the outskirts of the table.
The table is also going to be U-shaped, very low to the ground, with cushions around the perimeter so that 8-10 guests can lay on there sides, probably propped up with their left elbow, and eat and have conversation around the table. The open end of the U-shaped table is so that servers, usually the women from the host home, can get in and out to bring food and drink.
Oh, and a quick note, because of the social classes at play in the time, these meetings would have been for men only. Women might have been there, but they would be along the walls of the courtyard, attending to the meal, or perhaps off to the side or in one of the rooms, having their own meal separate from the men.
And then every once in a while, you’d have some people walk into the courtyard, and they’d be like, “oh yeah, tonight is Yoseph’s meeting. I’m not a part of the fishermen’s guild. I’m just passing through to get to my house right over there in the corner of the courtyard. Don’t mind me.”
You might even have some children, or other interested parties, who were not formally invited to the meeting, standing around and listening to the conversation. It was public, after all, but there were still firm boundaries in place that defined who was welcome and who was meant to just stay on the outskirts and observe.
So with this picture in our mind, we return to our text today. One of the Pharisees has invited Jesus to dinner, so Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house and RECLINED at the table.
This probably wasn’t a formal guild meeting, but since the Pharisee is one of the members of the upper class in that town, he had the means to throw dinner parties and entertain guests. And this might have been in the open courtyard, or on an open patio in front of the Pharisee’s house, perhaps surrounded by a low fence.
But since this is still open to the public, and since everyone knows that big things get talked about at powerful dinner parties, and since Jesus has amassed quite a reputation, I’m SURE there were a few extra people who were interested in what was going on that night.
And the Pharisee wouldn’t have been bent out of shape about that. On the contrary, he probably would have expected and hoped there would be a crowd. How cool! A bunch of people want to come check out MY dinner party! That’s why I invite high profile guests. I keep the official guest list exclusive, and that’s how it stays “special.” And the other guests who I officially invite definitely feel honored. They definitely feel like they owe me now, and so that’s how I get invited over to THEIR parties from time to time as well.
In a culture built around class and hierarchy, status and honor are a big deal, right? And when your business prospects, your connections in town, and your influence in local proceedings are all swayed by your social standing, then you work hard to climb the ladder. You kiss up to those above you, you build connections with people who are valuable to you, and you keep a tight list of who you owe and who owes you. This relational network that is built on reciprocity is so important, because how much others honor you helps your status rise, which helps you get better opportunities and more power and influence.
So the Pharisee, as the wealthy host, calls Jesus to join him. Already, there is a power differential; do we see it? The host is on his own turf. The guest is summoned. And how well the host takes care of his guest reflects back on them both.
So Jesus humbly accepts the invitation and goes to the dinner party. We can imagine there are a handful of other guests spread out around the U-shaped table, probably friends and associates of the Pharisee. Other religious leaders, perhaps a powerful merchant or two who seem to be living devout enough lives to fraternize with a Pharisee. Maybe the conversation is about the coming harvest season, or the upcoming religious festival. Maybe the host is peppering his guests with questions, keeping the conversation going. Maybe Jesus is being asked about his recent miracle of raising the widow’s son from the dead. After all, since Luke hasn’t given us any big breaks in the narrative so far, we could assume that this dinner is taking place in the same town, because chances are that Jesus hasn’t moved on yet.
So there is definitely buzz around Jesus. The courtyard must have had a lot of extra bystanders and onlookers. But everyone is keeping their respectful distance, leaving enough room behind each of the guest’s feet to allow the servants to rush back and forth with the food, refills for drinks, and clean up.
But there is one onlooker who stands out from the rest. She stands out because she’s crying, and not quietly. It’s like one of those sobs that takes over a little bit and then you try to catch your breath, but you’re trying to keep it all together, and everyone around you is pretending not to notice but it’s clear everyone knows something is going on.
And as people look a bit closer, they recognize her in the candlelight. That’s the woman with the REPUTATION here in town. The SINFUL woman.
Now, a quick aside, our text doesn’t give specifics about what TYPE of sin this woman has her reputation for. Many people assume that she might be a prostitute or something, but there aren’t any clues that confirm that for sure. What we DO know is that she’s not supposed to be involved in the dinner party. She’s not one of the Pharisee’s servants, who are doing their best to stay on the outskirts while still stepping in to attend to the dinner. She’s not an invited guest, because she’s a woman. She’s probably not married, because the fact that her hair is down suggests she’s still single. Married women normally wore their hair up and covered, while young eligible women could still wear their hair down to show they were eligible to get married.
We also know she has this expensive jar of perfume. Maybe she earned enough money from her job to buy the jar, which was probably worth a year’s salary. Maybe it was her inheritance, which would mean that her parents were no longer alive.
That’s all we know about this woman: She’s not an invited guest, she has her hair down, and she has a jar of perfume. We don’t know why she has the reputation of being a sinner, but maybe she was connected to the Roman tax-collection industry, since that would definitely count her as a sinner and afford her the finances for the perfume. But these are all just guesses.
The point is that this woman is definitely at the lower end of the power differential. She’s a woman in a man’s world. She was not summoned, but instead she took it upon herself to LEARN where Jesus was, BROUGHT the jar with her, and STOOD behind Jesus in the position of a servant. She has remarkable determination to pursue this meeting with Jesus. And the end of our passage tells us why, she’s experienced something transformational from Jesus, and she’s responding with the way she’s acting.
And so she’s there, on the perimeter of the group, weeping. And I doubt it was intentional, but she realizes that her tears have begun to fall and land right onto Jesus’ feet! She must have been horrified!
She didn’t have a towel, so she just reacted before thinking and bent down and used her hair to dry the tears, wiping off the dirt from the day. Sure, people noticed her, but maybe they would just think she was one of the servants who were going around and attending to the guests. Even though, none of the other guests were getting such special attention.
But that didn’t matter. To the woman, Jesus was the guest of honor. He DESERVED to be given special attention. She wanted to bless him and honor him. She was so grateful. She wanted to lavish love and gratitude over him, but she knew she couldn’t interrupt what was going on. But she couldn’t help herself, so she found herself planting a kiss on his feet and then opening the jar of perfume and pouring it on his feet. There, this is the fullness of who I am, able to give all of it to you: my gratitude, my adoration, my service, my resources. Because you deserve it Jesus. And everyone watching can know it.
Apparently, though, not EVERYONE watching understood it as a beautiful act of gratitude and love. No, what the Pharisee saw was a sinful woman acting very inappropriately with his guest, a supposed prophet from God.
Did Jesus not notice who was behind him? Was he not shocked at the brazen display of affection from this woman? If he were a true prophet from God, then he would be able to discern what kind of woman she was. The Pharisee could discern it. Everyone in town knew it. And if Jesus couldn’t, well then, he must not be as “holy” and “sent by God” as he claimed to be.
Hmmmph, he thought smugly to himself, making the mental note to lower Jesus’ status a few pegs.
Just then, Jesus spoke, calling the Pharisee by his name, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
Now, there are two cool things happening here that I want to point out. First, the Pharisee has just been speaking to himself, maybe out loud? Maybe in his head? But the implication is that it’s a private thought. But our text says that Jesus ANSWERS him. The pharisee has just been casting judgment on Jesus for apparently not knowing the identity of the woman behind him, and Jesus responds, calling him by his name, apparently knowing EXACTLY what Simon had been thinking, as if he could hear his thoughts.
That’s just a cool little observation, but the more important thing I wanted to point out is that Jesus is willingly choosing to honor his host by the way he speaks to him. Jesus says, “I have something to tell you,” but he WAITS for Simon to invite him to speak further. Jesus is willingly taking a lower place than the host, deferring to him. The humility of Jesus just goes deeper and deeper.
Anyways, Simon engages, and Jesus tells a mini parable about a couple people who owed money to someone. This concept would have been very familiar to all the people listening. Without central banks to apply for mortgages or business loans, the wealthy would often be approached by people asking for loans with the promise of repayment, plus interest, of course.
In fact, as one of the wealthier people in the community, Simon himself had probably lent money to others, so he would be very familiar with the relational dynamic that exists between the borrower and the lender.
Jesus speaks of two different borrowers, who had varying levels of debt. Apparently, a denarius was equivalent to about a days wage for a common worker, so one guy owes about two months of salary, and the other owes almost two years worth of salary. So it’s clear that neither person in this parable is in a good spot. Even if you were to try and skimp and save and cut costs wherever you can, there’s no way you’re paying back two months of salary very quickly, let alone the one who owes two years’ worth.
The moneylender in this situation would hold lots of power and sway over the lives of these two people. They could call in favors. They could expect regular payments. They would easily look down on the borrowers as below them, subservient to them, lesser than them.
But Jesus flips people’s expectations, and has the moneylender choose to have mercy, showing immense honor and compassion to the borrowers, cancelling both debts, freeing them from the financial burden.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a debt forgiven, but if you’ve ever paid off a debt, you know how freeing it is. How the weight lifts off your shoulders. How it seems like you just got a raise because you’re no longer paying the debt off. You’ve been working for years maybe, scrounging and penny-pinching, working hard to pay it off, and all that hard work has paid off! Incredible!
But when you’re still in the throws of the debt? When the light at the end of the tunnel is still super far away? When you aren’t sure you’ll ever be able to pay it off. You aren’t sure you’ll ever be free of the burden of the debt. And then all of a sudden the debt is cancelled. Lifted FOR you. Paid by someone else. No effort or work of your own, just a gift.
It’s not a question of how you would feel. You’d feel amazing! You’d feel blown away. You’d feel joy. You’d feel free. You’d feel gratitude and love towards whoever had helped you become free! There’s no acting stoic in that situation! It’s all the emotions bubbling up and out and OH MY GOSH I CAN’T BELIEVE IT ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
So yeah, both borrowers would feel that way, but Jesus asks, which would love the lender more? And Simon has been paying attention, he’s been following, and he’s schooled in the rhetoric of scribal teaching and the use of thought experiments like these parables.
So he says, “Well, I suppose, the one who had the bigger debt. It would probably hit him harder, stay with him longer. He’d feel more love.”
You’re right, Jesus says. And then he turns to the woman, while still talking to Simon. See this woman?
Uh, yeah, Jesus. EVERYONE saw her. We all know about her. And when she started acting that way, making a scene, caressing your feet, how could we NOT have seen her?
But Jesus continues and makes sure to dispel any notion of impropriety. “I am YOUR guest, but you didn’t go above and beyond and offer to have my feet washed. But SHE has served me generously by washing my feet, with her own tears and hair.
You didn’t honor me with a kiss of greeting, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t confirm my status as your honored guest by anointing my head with oil, but SHE has anointed my feet with perfume, and filled this whole room with its aroma.
What we might not realize is that this set of statements from Jesus would have landed in that dinner party like a grenade. In a culture where status and honor reign supreme, where your power and influence is determined by your reputation and the leverage you hold over others, Jesus is choosing NOT to play the social game.
Instead, he’s calling OUT Simon, his host, and he’s lifting up the woman. He’s making a very public statement to everyone within earshot, which would have probably been a lot of people from that community, that Simon had breached his role as host. He might have invited Jesus to dinner, yes, but then didn’t do anything after that, challenging Jesus’s honor as a guest.
Simon is passive at best, and manipulative at worst, while the woman is shown as devoted and gracious, since she actively sought out Jesus and actively lavished love and adoration on him out of her gratitude. The woman who crashed the party has become Jesus’ true host.
And we might be tempted to look at her actions and Simon’s inaction and think that we should walk away from this text with a new commitment to act accordingly. To increase our amount of kind actions. To actively show honor and generosity towards others.
Sure, that’s good, but it misses the point Jesus is trying to make. He’s not saying that she’s doing a better job of acting right, of doing the right things. The whole philosophy of the Pharisees was built upon following the right commands, doing the right things, acting in the correct ways in order to earn God’s love and blessing. They held themselves and others to that standard, handing out affirmation and judgment based on whether or not you acted in the right ways.
And if that was what Jesus was trying to point out, it would make no sense in this situation. After all, Simon, a Pharisee, has kept the laws of the Torah really well. The woman, on the other hand, apparently has a reputation as a sinner. They both have a history of how they’ve behaved in the community that has led to their standing in the community.
Simon’s lack of warm hospitality at one dinner party can hardly destroy his stellar record. And the woman’s acts of hospitality in this one instance can’t possibly outweigh the sin that came before.
No, Jesus isn’t focusing on balancing good and bad behavior. He’s talking about forgiveness and gratitude.
“Therefore, I tell you, this woman’s many sins HAVE BEEN forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
The woman’s forgiveness is not CAUSED by the quality of her love. Her love is in response to the forgiveness she has already received. That’s why Jesus tells the parable of the forgiven debtors.
BOTH of the borrowers in the story were in debt. Neither of them could repay right away. Neither of them did any extra work to earn the cancellation of the debt. Forgiveness was given freely to BOTH. And it was in RESPONSE to that forgiveness that they felt love towards the one who had forgiven them.
Jesus is trying to invite Simon and us to reconsider how we view social interactions. Rather than seeing everything as give and take, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine, I O Us. Rather than thinking about the things you do for others as a way to gain LEVERAGE on them, Jesus is trying to level the playing field.
The cancellation of debt would undermine the very “rules” of interaction between lender and borrower, right? Forgiveness strips the relationship of the dimensions of status, of higher and lower, of patron and benefactor.
By telling the parable and highlighting the woman, Jesus is inviting Simon to reconsider his evaluation of the woman’s actions. Instead of seeing her as performing some service for Jesus, or doing those things as some repayment of a debt, like a slave girl or a prostitute might do, we’re invited to see her actions as an expression of love that comes from the FREEDOM of having all debts cancelled.
Jesus highlights what the woman is doing not as the way she is EARNING forgiveness, but as the FRUIT of a life that has already received forgiveness. And if you don’t have that much FRUIT, maybe you haven’t fully received the forgiveness being offered.
Jesus is trying to show that forgiveness possesses TRANSFORMING power. And here’s a woman who has been transformed by the power of forgiveness so much that she willingly braves the stares and judgment that she KNOWS is going to be directed towards her in order to boldly act out her gratitude.
Then Jesus says to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And THIS gets quite the stir from the rest of the guests: “What? Who’s this guy who even forgives SINS? I thought we were talking about debts…”
But remember, Jesus didn’t forgive the woman in that moment because of the way she had acted. She was already forgiven. That’s what caused her to respond in the way she did, showing up to the party in spite of her reputation in the town.
But it’s that reputation that is precisely the reason Jesus reminds her of her forgiveness. Notice how intentional he is. He’s gotten everyone’s attention, he’s brought attention to her, and then he declares her sins are forgiven, OUT LOUD, in front of everyone.
She might have arrived with the reputation of a sinner, but she’ll be leaving with the reputation as the one that Jesus declared is forgiven. Jesus, the prophet who raised that one kid from the dead. That Jesus. Just declared the sinful woman to be forgiven. Yeah, I thought it was crazy, too, but we were all there!
She’s already experienced the transforming power of forgiveness in her own heart, but Jesus also wants to heal the rift between her and the rest of her community. And then he sends her out with these words, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”
The woman receives the offer of forgiveness, which gives her faith in the one who has forgiven her. That faith saves her, heals her, transforms her so that she can respond. Her faith is evidenced by the acts of love she gets to do. And that leads to peace, wholeness, healing, inside and outside.
But then our passage ends before we see how it plays out after the dinner party. How will the community respond? Will they follow Jesus’ view that the woman should be restored to community? Will they view God as the one who cancels debts and invites others to do the same?
Will they realize that they can show love without the constraints of past behaviors and reputation? Will they realize they can interact with each other without the contracts of reciprocity?
Will they recognize Jesus as able to forgive sins? How will they respond? How will Simon respond?
How will WE respond?
Clearly, Luke has accomplished what he wanted to with his rendition of this story. Instead of giving us the application and answers we crave on a spoon, we’re left to wrestle with the implications ourselves. We’re left to reflect on how these themes overlay onto our own lives.
We look at the character of Simon and we have to ask: do we CLAIM status and honor? Do we go through our daily lives expecting it? Do we demand it? Do we only ever advocate for OURSELVES?
Or do we GIVE status and honor? Are our behaviors and actions marked by service to others? Is the majority of our interactions with others in a helping mode, sacrificing for the sake of someone else? Taking a risk in order to lift them up?
And this isn’t a call to change our behavior by our own power in order to earn our place in God’s hierarchy. Rather, this is a way to diagnose our hearts, to look at the fruit of our lives so that we can see where we need God’s transformational power to break in to our lives.
Because the truth is that we CAN’T give love or forgiveness fully until we receive it. We can’t give away something we haven’t received.
That’s why I want to remind you that YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. Past tense. Already offered.
Too many of us are operating as if our standing in the family of God is based on our right actions or beliefs. We give ourselves a pat on the back if we’re doing the right thing, and we heap shame on ourselves when we think we’ve messed up. And that translates to how we view and interact with others.
We judge others according to how they act. We lift others up and give them status and respect if it seems like they are acting properly. But we shame and dismiss others when they don’t act the way we think they’re supposed to.
Simon had dismissed the woman as a sinner and therefore was not only offended by her presence at his house, but also offended by the fact that Jesus wasn’t judging her according to her sin. She was so far gone in his opinion that she had no right to even be there, let alone to be receiving grace and forgiveness.
Do we feel the same way? Don’t we find ourselves expecting people to clean up their lives first before they receive grace and forgiveness? We say everyone is welcome to come to Jesus, but then when people show up with all their mess and brokenness on display, it makes us uncomfortable.
You can’t be like that here! You can’t act that way here. You’ve got to clean up a bit first. You’ve got to hide a bit of that brokenness first.
Why would we think that? Probably because we think that WE can’t fully be ourselves, either. Probably because we think that if we don’t clean up OUR behavior, then we won’t be accepted.
Probably because we think that Jesus can’t fully forgive us if all of our brokenness was brought to light.
But let me remind you, YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. Jesus’ forgiveness and grace HAS BEEN offered to us. It’s our choice whether or not to accept it, but accepting it can TRANSFORM our lives to become conduits of his love.
Don’t we see? We don’t clean up our lives before entering into the livelihood of Jesus. God promises that it is BY HIS GRACE that the relationship with him is healed and THAT will clean up our life. Accepting God’s grace is what causes the response of love and gratitude. Receiving God’s mercy transforms us. It leads us to enact our gratitude towards others around us.
That’s why Luke just ends our little story here and moves straight on to a description of the type of people who are following Jesus at the beginning of chapter 8. You’ve got his 12 disciples, but Luke also names women as integral members of Jesus’ ministry team. They had experienced transformation, and that led to them ministering alongside Jesus and his disciples with their personal involvement and the contribution of their resources.
When you experience the grace of Jesus, you enter his community as active participants. There are no SPECTATORS in the kingdom of God. Because of what we’ve received from Jesus, we use our gifts and resources in service to Jesus’ mission. Our faith naturally works itself out in acts of love.
But if we aren’t demonstrating that fruit, if our love is “little” like Simon’s, maybe it’s because we haven’t fully received the forgiveness that is continually being offered to us. Maybe we’re still thinking that we have to clean up our lives first. Maybe we’re still too inwardly focused on hiding the parts of us we’re ashamed of that we’re keeping ourselves back from God and keeping ourselves back from the life of love and gratitude that we GET to be a part of as members of the kingdom of God.
So I want to ask: what is Jesus inviting you to do this week? Is he inviting you to forgive, or to receive forgiveness?
Who comes to mind when I suggest that Jesus might be inviting you to offer forgiveness? Maybe someone who has felt like they can’t be themselves around you, who feels judged by you.
Maybe they aren’t even aware of it, but you know in your heart that you’ve been casting judgment on them, and that has kept you from connecting with them fully in love and mercy. That has kept the relationship strained. Who is God inviting you to forgive?
Or maybe you’re being invited to receive forgiveness. Maybe the person that came to mind who can’t be themselves is YOU. Maybe the person who is experiencing judgment and shame is YOU.
Maybe you need to hear the good news that Jesus ALREADY HAS FORGIVEN YOU. It is offered to you. All you need to do is be willing to receive it. To accept it. To receive the love and mercy from God that doesn’t turn away in disgust from your brokenness. To receive the compassion that doesn’t shy away from the parts of your life you keep hidden from everyone else.
Jesus’ love for you has no conditions. It has no limits. There is nothing in you or outside of you that can stop his love. And because he loves you, he offers forgiveness that is transformational. Forgiveness that is able to heal your wounds. Forgiveness that is able to soften your anger. Forgiveness that is able to shut up the lie of shame. Forgiveness that is able to FREE you from the burdens you are carrying, so that you can learn how to live and love like the one who has saved us.
So that we can learn how to give that same love and forgiveness to others, giving them dignity and honor that points them their creator. So that we can freely give our hearts, our time, our resources to those around us in order to show them that Jesus offers forgiveness and healing to them too!
So that we can experience a life of peace, of well-being, of wholeness. And THAT’S good news.