A Sinful Woman Forgiven (Luke 7:36–50)
AUGUST 29, 2017
My battle with lust is ongoing, my present tense messy. The importance of sharing our present tense messy is the present tense truth of the gospel.
The lust that I battle on a regular basis is a real addiction. It’s the place where I run for comfort. It’s where I escape from boredom, frustration with life, difficulty in relationships, or just because I want one more fix. There are times that I don’t battle with it at all. Then there are days that I can’t walk away, I can’t put it down, and, frankly, I don’t want to.
I know that I cannot be the only woman who battles lust. I don’t think we can deny it anymore. I can’t deny it anymore. I’m tired of being in hiding, battling alone. I believe other women are tired of it, too.
There is really good news, specifically for women who battle this issue, found in the passages of scripture. While the church wants to pretend like the issue does not exist, Jesus never flinched at women caught in adultery. He didn’t treat them with a double condemnation, even though the culture around them did, especially the religious elite. Friends, Jesus doesn’t flinch at us who are caught in adultery of heart, either. Instead, He went to the cross, kicking in the door on our sin and shame, and He leans in and embraces us with His grace.
Tears falling one by one burst through layers of dust on his feet. She reached up and took the pins out of her hair. As her locks fell down, she cracked open a jar of ointment and began anointing his feet. She bent down low, wiping the filth away from his feet with her hair and then kissing his feet. As she did this, she could feel eyes from across the table burrowing into the back of her head, but she didn’t care. She was with Christ, the one who washed away the sins of her past; there was nothing anyone could say that could stop her from performing this act of love. She knew that even now, before all her accusers, she was safe.
The gospel of grace is so radical that it can be communicated by a harlot letting down her hair in public and kissing the feet of God. This picture of grace for the worst sinner was immediately apparent to those present. And some didn’t like it. The pharisaical host turned up his nose and judged Christ unlikely to be a prophet since he was allowing this sinful woman to touch him. Jesus answers Simon’s thoughts by telling a story about what makes a person grateful. In the end Simon has to admit that the one who is released from the greatest of debts responds with the greatest love.
Jesus then turns Simon’s attention to the woman and contrasts their two responses. Simon showed Jesus no honor, while the sinful woman not only went to great risks to be in Christ’s presence, but showed great honor out of the deep love she had for him. “‘I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:47–50 niv).
We see in Luke’s account of the sinful woman that Jesus is not shocked or put off by her sexual sin. Where culture and religious men snubbed her and treated her as the lowest of the low, Jesus welcomes her and offers forgiveness and love. What freedom! I can find myself in the place of both the sinful woman and the judgmental Pharisee when it comes to my struggle with lust: “Jesus, if you knew what kind of woman I am, you wouldn’t let me touch you.” When I hear Christ’s words back to Simon, “Her many sins are forgiven,” I am undone. The gospel silences our inner accuser. When that familiar plaintiff scowls, attempting to keep our hearts chained up in darkness with shame, the gospel comes in, flips on the lights, unchains us, and silences the accuser. When we begin to feel the weight of condemnation over our failure, we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven (past, present, and future). There will never be a time when we are not covered by the blood of Christ, even when we fall.
Martin Luther coined the phrase,“Simul justus et peccator” (simultaneously justified and sinful at the same time), to describe the Christian life. We know who we are in our flesh, but the gospel speaks the greater truth of who Christ is for us. When we are broken and discouraged because we succumb to lust again, the gospel message (Christ for sinners) reminds us we are free—nothing, absolutely nothing can accuse us. And we are free to worship through tears at the feet of him who loves us and gave himself for us. Christ does not leave you or hold you back from touching him. You do not have to run away from him and hide. You can run to him and find peace.
Find more from Sarah Taras here.