Jesus on Forgiveness, Devotions for Luke 7:36-50
February 13-19, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017–Jesus on Forgiveness
“And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he [Jesus] was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment” (Luke 7:37).
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Park defied the system. An injustice needed to be righted. While riding a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa refused to vacate her seat for a white patron. Authorities stepped in and arrested Rosa. This seemingly insignificant incident sparked the civil rights movement.
The woman in this story was no less bold. Though she might not have been fighting against the injustice perpetrated against women by society, she ne
As disciples of Jesus, there are times when we must take action. We must stand against injustice or move to provide healing. Courage is needed when we take our stand. When we break rules and go against customs, on behalf of others, we will find Jesus there with us.
Lord, there are times when life in your kingdom demands action. Give us the courage that we need to accomplish what must be done. Amen.
Tuesday, February 14, 2016–Jesus on Forgiveness
“She stood behind him at his feet … and began to bathe his feet with her tears” (Luke 7:38).
The woman was alone. She was surround by the people who lived in the city with her, but she had no one. Many judged and rejected her. A few used and abused her. Only a couple of people knew her name.
Perhaps the woman had seen Jesus and had heard Jesus teach. She may have seen Jesus reach out to lepers and make them clean, or heal a sick woman. She could have merely sensed that Jesus was not like other men; he was different. Whatever the woman had seen or heard, she knew enough to risk rejection and express her need and her love. Lifting Jesus’ feet, the woman wept, bathed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus did not reject her. He smiled, accepted her gift and loved her.
No matter how alone, judged, rejected or abused we may be, Jesus always receives and accepts us with open arms of love.
Lord, sometimes we just need a hug. Thank you for embracing us with your love and acceptance and reminding us that we are yours. Amen.
Wednesday, February 15, 2016–Jesus on Forgiveness
“If this man were a prophet, he would have known ….” (Luke 7:39).
Jesus didn’t need to be a prophet in order to know who the woman was. It was obvious. The laws of the land decreed that a woman could not own property, nor could she work outside of her home. An orphan, widow or divorcee could live only by begging or by selling herself. Jesus knew what the woman did, but he didn’t care.
It was commonly assumed by the Pharisees and other religious Jews that exposure to sin, sickness and death made them unclean. This is why they lived their lives in isolation. They wanted to remain clean. Jesus, however, rejected their premise. Touching life didn’t make a person unclean. In fact the opposite was true. By touching life and being involved in the lives of others, a person could make them clean.
We hesitate to get our hands dirty. Yet, it is only when we become participants that we can love the unloved, and forgive the unforgiven. Only when we get involved can we touch lives, change them and enable them to become whole.
Loving Lord, don’t let our witness be our manicured nails, but rather the dirt that is under them. Amen.
Thursday, February 16, 2017–Jesus on Forgiveness
“When they couldn’t pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them” (Luke 7:42a).
Jesus could have begun his story on forgiveness with the words, “Once upon a time in a land far, far away.” In the occupied, oppressive first century Israel, cancelling debt was unheard of. The rich preyed upon the poor and forgiving debt was bad business. The opening point of Jesus’ story, though, was on the generosity of the creditor.
Even in this day and age, it is difficult to imagine debt begin forgiven. During the economic downturn, the government bailed out large banks from bankruptcy. In turn, though, the banks refused to forgive debt and foreclosed on millions of home. Credit records are remembered and bankruptcies stick with us for seven years. Forgiveness, both financial and relational, is rare.
The heavenly creditor, though, breaks into our world and into our lives freely forgiving our debts. We enter into God’s presence heavily burdened and leave forgiven and free.
Forgiving God, you lift the burden of our debts from us and enable us to live free. Embolden us so that we can share with others who can set them free. Amen.
Friday, February 17, 2017–Jesus on Forgiveness
“’Now which of them will love him more’” (Luke 7:42b)?
Jesus asks a loaded question. We assume we know who would love the creditor more. It would be the one who had the largest debt forgiven. Other factors come into effect, however. All of us have experienced God’s steadfast love and unconditional forgiveness, but we often temper our response of love and gratitude. Now, there are times when the most loving and grateful have the least.
We negate God’s forgiveness by telling ourselves that we are pretty good people and there isn’t much to forgive in our lives. Besides we have our act together much more than many other people do. Our gratitude is sometimes non-existent. We complain that God doesn’t give us everything we want, or not as much as we want. Gratitude isn’t necessary when we tell ourselves that we have worked hard for everything we have and we deserve every penny of what we have accumulated.
Our lives change when we realize that all we have are gifts. God’s love is a gift. God has decided to love us no matter what our response is to that great love. We receive our daily bread, as a gift, whether or not we give thanks. Living in the reality of God’s overwhelming grace inspires love and gratitude within us. We can’t contain this love and gratitude, but we must express it with our words and actions.
Forgive us Lord, when we negate the giftedness of life. Remind us so that we can respond with love and gratitude. Amen.
Saturday, February 18, 2017–Jesus on Forgiveness
“’You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet’” (Luke 7:45).
We do not know what prompted Simon, the Pharisee, to ask Jesus to dine with him. It doesn’t seem malicious; he wasn’t trying to trip Jesus up. Simon may well have been interested in hearing more of what Jesus had to say. After all both men were interested in living out their faith. One thing we do know about Simon, though, is that we wasn’t much of a host.
It was common practice to greet one’s guests with kisses and to make sure the traveling dust had been washed from their feet. Simon had done none of this. He had taken Jesus for granted. Simon isn’t the only one who has done this.
As disciples of Jesus, it is so easy to allow Jesus to be crowded out of our lives and marginalized. We’re too busy living to spend time with the one who identifies himself as “Life.” There are also those unnoticed people in our lives who make our lives livable; people like the person who dumps our trash, delivers our mail, governs our town, polices our streets and schedules our doctors’ appointments. A, “Thank You,” or even a smile and a wave are not only a blessing to them, but serve to remind us that we have a lot for which to be thankful.
Open our eyes Lord that we may see how important your presence and the services of scores of people around us are for our enjoyment of life. Amen.
Sunday, February 19, 2017–Jesus on Forgiveness
“’Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:50).
Jesus’ spoke powerful words to the woman. Those words changed her life. Not only had Jesus loved and accepted her, but Jesus had also received her gifts of love. Even though Jesus knew who she was, he forgave her sins—all of them. If the truth is told, though, the woman wasn’t the only one whose sins were forgiven.
Certainly Jesus forgave Simon’s sin of neglecting his guest and all the rest of Simon’s sins. The forgiveness of sins is God’s gift to all humankind. Forgiveness and love were never meant to be limited to only a few people.
The woman’s faith, though, enabled her to live in Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Her faith opened her up to experience peace—that peace that passes all understanding. Our faith in God’s love and forgiveness, as disciples of Jesus, allows us to be recipients of that same peace. Faith bears the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Faith frees us so that God’s Spirit is able to use us to share God’s love and grace with others. We live by faith.
Both grace and faith are gifts, Lord, for which we give you thanks. Use them in our lives so that we may be used by you to share your love and grace. Amen.