“Your Sins Have Been Forgiven”

Understanding the Red Letters   Part 21

Last time, we featured Jesus as “friend of sinners”.  Jesus came to befriend, call, and save sinners, which we were!  He came for us.  And this mission of Jesus riled the religious leaders of His day.  Let’s look at another story of our beautiful “friend of sinners” in action.

“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.’ “ (Luke 7:36-39).

You can see the wheels turning in the host’s mind, “If Jesus were really a prophet, He would know that this woman is a sinner.  And if He had any scruples at all, He would not be allowing her to touch Him.”  Of course, Jesus knew exactly who the woman was.  She was exactly the type of woman that Jesus came to rescue!

Jesus then tells Simon, His host, a parable about forgiveness with this point.  Those who have been forgiven much, love much; love that this woman is showering upon our Lord.  Jesus concludes his story, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).

Did Jesus just say that her sins are forgiven?  Did Jesus just say that her sins, which are many, have been forgiven?  We haven’t heard a word from this woman in the text.  We have not seen a single word from this woman asking for forgiveness.  Has Jesus truly forgiven her?  The next three verses give us the beautiful truth.

“Then Jesus 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 7:48-50).

Jesus said it again, this time straight to the woman, in verse 48, “Your sins have been forgiven.”  Again, how can this happen if she did not ask for Jesus’ forgiveness?  Jesus gives us the simple and straightforward answer in verse 50, “Your faith has saved you.”  Her literally pouring out her love for the Savior is an expression of her faith.  She and us are forgiven of our sins when we believe in Jesus; when we believe His gospel message.  It is just that simple.

Yet, the church makes asking God to forgive us a staple of the Christian life, especially the need to seek God’s forgiveness over and over when we sin.  Why would be encouraged to do this when our sins, even if they are many, have already been forgiven?  We will continue this thought in the next few posts.