In the seventh chapter of the gospel of Luke, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dine in his home. During the meal, an unnamed but notoriously sinful woman showed up uninvited. This woman put on a tremendous display of love and adoration toward the Savior. Jesus responded by telling her that her sins were forgiven because of her faith in Him. This is a tremendous truth. Our faith and trust in Jesus as the Christ is what brings us to salvation found only in Christ. There is no other name given among men by which we can be saved. Furthermore, there is no other way to approach Christ than by simple faith in Him. However, t6e is another message found in this passage.
Luke 7:44-50 describes a very easy to understand concept but hard to do process, He (Jesus) said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He 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.” (NASU) The phrase “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” is an arresting question. It screams that Jesus is in fact God because only God can forgive sins in an eternal sense.
We cannot forgive sins in the sense that we wipe away their eternal consequences. However, we can forgive and forget in a temporal sense the sins that were committed against us. Forgiving others for the wrongs committed against us will have several benefits. First, it will release us and the offending party from a bondage to the memory of those sins. As Jews, Simon Wiesenthal and Corrie Ten Boom had very similar experiences at the hand of Nazis. Relatives of both were killed by the Nazis and both survived concentration camp incarcerations. However, their paths after WWII were very different. Simon became famous for not forgiving and Corrie became famous for forgiving. Simon kept himself and his enemies in a psychological prison of his own construction. Corrie released both herself and her enemies from any such imprisonment. I must point out that Corrie did not find forgiving her captors an easy thing. Rather, forgiving them was a struggle.
May I remind you that as Christians we are called to be conformed to the image of Christ. Forgiving others will help conform us to His image. Jesus is the undisputed king of forgiving others who have wronged Him. When we forgo retaliation, the watching world will be rightly amazed. They will ask the same arresting question, “Who is this man (or woman) who forgives sins?” They will not understand how we can forgive those who wrong us. This will open up a great opportunity to share the good news that a more important forgiveness, eternal forgiveness, is available. We should declare that we forgive only because we have been forgiven by Jesus who stands ready to forgive them. The gospel opportunities are endless.
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at email@example.com.