Meditations in the Gospel of St. Luke
St. Luke 7: 36-50 (Part 3)

WE come to this passage for a third and last time. We have looked at Simon the Pharisee, and we have considered the woman who anointed Jesus. In this meditation we will fix our eyes on Jesus, and look into his wonderful face. We can't see him physically but we can see him in this happening in his life on earth. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, let us behold our loving and gracious Saviour.

Let us behold the Saviour of sinners. Jesus shows himself as Saviour, as the one through whom we can receive forgiveness of sins. Jesus affirmed that the woman was forgiven, and spoke to her a word of authoritative assurance - “Your sins are forgiven.” The woman had received forgiveness earlier and this was why she loved Jesus and wanted to show her love and gratitude in the extravagant way she did. However she had heard and felt the attitude of Simon towards her, who felt she was such a sinner totally undeserving of forgiveness, and so Jesus, after rebuking Simon for his attitude, turned to the woman to reassure her that she was forgiven and her sins, though many, were cancelled and forgotten. This illustrates how the believer can find his or her confidence and assurance of forgiveness assaulted by circumstances and attitudes, and how Jesus watches over us to give us continual assurance of his forgiving love.

Oh! what a wonderful Saviour! The greatest need for every human being is the need of the forgiveness of God. Whether we are like the women who was deeply convicted of her sin, and felt the awful consequence of her sin before God, or whether we are like the Pharisee who thought he did not need forgiveness, every child of Adam is a sinner by birth, under the wrath and condemnation of God, and heirs of eternal punishment in Hell. This is the lot of all human beings who are sinners from within and sinners continually falling short of the glory of God. Our greatest need is to be forgiven and be saved from God's wrath to come. There is no way any of us can obtain forgiveness by our own effort. God has given Jesus to be the Saviour of sinners. Jesus became man in order to be the second Adam, and win where the first Adam failed, and thereby make it possible for a new redeemed people to become the people of God under their victorious head, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. The one thing needed for all if they are to be saved and receive the forgiveness of sins is to know their need as sinners, and be so convicted of sin and its consequences that they turn away from trust in themselves, or any religious system, and cling to Christ alone in faith as their Saviour. This the woman had done, and Simon had not understood.

As we look at Jesus we see an all-sufficient Saviour. He had authority to forgive sins by virtue of fulfilling all the Father required of him to make forgiveness from God possible, because forgiveness is based on justice – that is that no part of God's holy law was broken. Jesus fulfilled, on the part of all his people, the law in its precepts, and the law in its penalty, and left nothing for his people to do or contribute in order to be forgiven. If anything had been left to us fallen creatures we would have failed, and so no one would be saved. Jesus satisfied the whole law of God in our place. This means that salvation is totally free to all who receive it. This brings us to the next point revealed by Jesus in this passage. He said to the woman – Your faith has saved you. Faith is not a work we do, but rather a gift that is given which enables the penitent sinner to see Jesus as his or her sin-bearer, and to place all trust in Jesus and his saving work. Faith is the means given by God for us to receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

So the sinner needs two things given by God. Firstly a real and genuine conviction of sin, and secondly faith to rest all their hope of forgiveness on Jesus our all-sufficient Saviour. Oh! The depth of God's saving and sovereign grace!

As we fix our eye on Jesus we see the gift of assurance he bestows on the faithful. The woman trusted only in Jesus and so she received forgiveness of sins. When Jesus assured her that her sins were forgiven, Jesus then said to her “go in peace”. Here is the great blessing of salvation. These days Anglican worshippers 'pass the peace' as it is known in the service of Holy Communion. The great gift of peace has become diminished in the minds of many, if not most, of worshippers as nothing more than a greeting of good will. This has value, but is far below the blessing which comes to all who are saved. When Jesus said to the woman 'go in peace' he meant wonderful and deep blessing.

Briefly Jesus was telling the woman that she had peace with God. There was no sentence of condemnation hanging over her, and no delayed explosion of God's wrath. Wrath and condemnation were no more because through Jesus the sinner's sin is covered, blotted out and remembered no more, and this not just for the past sins, but for sins in the future also. Jesus paid the price of all all our sins. Peace means that there is no more fear of death but rather the sure hope of glory. Peace means that there is no fear of the future, because our life is hid with Christ in God. Peace means that there is no more fear of losing forgiveness, because he that has begun a good work in us will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ.

How the words of John in 1 John 3: 1 are echoed in our minds and hearts as we see the glory of our Saviour "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God". This is ours in Christ.