By Brent Kuhlman
O LORD God, dear Father in Heaven, You have promised to forgive our sins through the sacrament of the altar. Grant that we would always come in faith to receive great forgiveness, and that our love for You and our neighbor would increase in the same, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
He who has been forgiven much loves much.” (Luke 7:47)
And that’s precisely the way it was for a sinful woman.
Want to talk about sinful?
She had sinful down pat! Professionally sinful. Perfected sinful. Sinful in the way of prostitution. After all, everyone knows why a woman in the ancient world wears a bottle of perfume around her neck. It scents her bosom and sweetens her breath.
And there she is, sneaking into the dinner party because Jesus the Savior of sinners is there. He is the Savior of all sinners, a whole world full of them. He is even Savior for her.
She is trapped in her sin. Kidnapped. Held against her will. Bound. Powerless to change or save herself. She is certainly not the Savior. But Jesus is. And she believes in Him. She believes what she has heard. Jesus declared that He came to give His life as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He announced that He came to release the captives. He came to liberate those who sit in darkened dungeons of their sin (Luke 4:18-19). He promised: “Come to me all of you who are weary or burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Now here Jesus is!
The Savior of sinners dines at Simon’s house. He has come to do a Good Friday, even for her. Her enormous sin is His. It doesn’t belong to her any more. He has arrived to answer for all her sin by shedding His blood on the Cross. He will die sacrificially in her place. He will take the eternal damnation and hell that she deserves in His sacrificial body at the place called Golgotha. All her sin is forgiven in Jesus. Salvation is hers in Jesus. He has come to die for her. That’s how precious she is to Jesus.
Consequently, “he who has been forgiven much loves much,” Jesus says. No wonder she weeps and weeps. No wonder she washes His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. No wonder she kisses his feet and pours the perfume on them. Her actions speak louder than any words. The enormity of her sin and her sinful life is forgiven. There is no sin or sinner too big for Jesus. Jesus doesn’t count any of her sin against her, not one bit of it. “Your sins are forgiven.”
So, too, with you!
What is your sin? What does your sinful life look like? Jesus has come for you, too. He has given His life into death as a ransom for you. He has come to give you rest and to set you free from your captivity. You are baptized into His death. He invites you to dine in His house. He provides the meal. He gives you His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar for you to eat and drink with the bread and wine with this specific promise attached: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” All is forgiven for you. That is how precious you are to Jesus.
Yes, indeed! What counted for this sinful woman also counts for sinful people like you. Jesus announces the same forgiveness in the Divine Service: “Your sins are forgiven. I died for you! Your faith [in Me] has saved you. Go in peace.” His words spoken in the Divine Service by the pastor do what they say. They give what they say. She is forgiven. You are forgiven. She is free. You are free. New creations in Christ you are. The old has passed away. The new has come. Why? Because Jesus says so.
Such complete and total forgiveness from Jesus may just bring you to tears at times. It may just blow you away, leaving you speechless for a while. The reactions will vary depending on each person. Nevertheless, the vastness of Jesus’ answering for all your rot, filth, and gunk is really amazing. Faith in Him bears the fruit of love in your life wherever He has put you: sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, students, athletes, congregation members, and citizens. Lives are set free to live for others. The fruit of the Gospel is nothing else than love. Just as Jesus gave Himself for you with His Body and Blood on the Cross to redeem you from your captivity to sin, death, and damnation, so you, too, give yourself to your neighbor who desperately needs your love. After all, “He who has been forgiven much loves much.”
O Lord, we praise Thee, bless Thee, and adore Thee, In thanksgiving bow before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish Our weak souls that they may flourish: O Lord, have mercy! May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary, That our sins and sorrows did carry, And Thy blood for us plead In all trial, fear, and need: O Lord have mercy! (“O Lord, we praise Thee” LSB 617:1)
Rev. Brent Kuhlman is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Murdock, Nebraska and has served on the board of Higher Things.
This article was originally published in the summer 2010 issue of Higher Things Magazine.