“If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMPC
Easter reminds me that because Jesus paid the penalty for my sins, I am free from guilt and shame. Have you ever felt such deep guilt that you couldn’t get over it? Most people probably haven’t done anything terrible enough to bring on that kind of deep shame.
For those who have, love for Jesus runs very deep because it changes your life in a very tangible way. It can’t be explained to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Maybe you could imagine what it would be like when you hear the hymn, Amazing Grace, written by John Newton, a slave ship captain who experienced God’s merciful forgiveness.
Another example is a woman known only as “the sinful woman” found in Luke 7:36-50
This woman came to see Jesus while he dined with some religious leaders. The passage only tells us the bare bones of the story, but we can imagine what might have taken place. I have often wondered, what she was doing at the party?
“But it was acceptable in Jesus’ day for people to come to a party to watch and listen to the conversation. They were not allowed to eat, but they could observe. She was not interested in eating.” (Never Thirsty Ministry)
She was interested in seeing and hearing Jesus.
I have no idea what Jesus and the Pharisees talked about. Maybe Jesus talked about forgiveness of sins. Maybe, as she listened, she believed He was the Christ and she experienced the joy of receiving forgiveness.
Maybe Jesus quoted Old Testament Scriptures such as Isaiah 1:18.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Maybe He quoted Psalm 103:12.
“… as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
And maybe, He looked right in her eyes as he did, not at the Pharisees, but only at her, and maybe that is why she cried so hard that she could actually wash His feet with her tears.
Verse 44 tells us that Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “… her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Imagine how she felt, knowing He was talking about her.
She probably thought no one would pay any attention to her that evening. But Jesus looked right at her and spoke the words she longed to hear: “Her many sins have been forgiven.”
Easter means forgiveness and cleansing to me. Anyone carrying around guilt can be set free from that heavy load, just like I was. Only believe.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-8 KJV
(See Who is Jesus? below.)
Luke 7:36-50 Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
According to Psychology Today, the way to deal with a difficult, aka “toxic” person, is to “limit your time with this person or end the relationship—and don’t look back.”
Is there someone in your life that you would like to be done with, and then never look back? You can find justification for this attitude in pop psychology, but not in the Bible.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 NIV
I have a student like that right now. You might say he really knows how to push my buttons! It’s like he wants me to dislike him. After repeated insults, disrespect, and defiance, I said to him, “I’m done with you!”
The Lord has not let me forget it! He says, “That’s not an option.” He reminds me that it’s a good thing He didn’t feel that way about me when I was (let’s just say) sowing my oats. No, God never left me when I left Him. He still loved me when I was rebellious and sinful. And He was faithful to bring me back to Him, even though I did nothing to deserve His great love, mercy, and forgiveness.
This is why I love Jesus. He loves me unconditionally! Isn’t that what we all need? – what the whole world needs – TO BE LOVED?
I believe God puts certain people in our path for a reason. There may be someone in our life that is difficult to love. It might not be forever, but while they’re around, we must show them God’s love.
Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them ….. Love your enemies ….. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:32-36
If God puts an “unlovable” person in our path, we’ll know it. He’ll make sure of that. We may think we aren’t strong enough to love that person, but we can count on the Lord to give us the grace we need. He said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Once there was a very popular preacher. So many people crowded into his church services, the church had to be enlarged. He frequently preached at other churches, as is often the case with popular ministers.
The preacher wrote beautiful Christian songs, that were also popular with churchgoers. Soon be began a series of weekly prayer meetings in addition to regular services.
What made this preacher so special? I believe it was his life journey.
All the experiences in our past have shaped us into the person we are today. This preacher, at one time, was a vile sinner, cruel and having a hardened heart; a man without compassion or mercy.
Is it possible for such a person to have a complete turnaround? Can a hardened sinner become a saint? Can a depraved evildoer become a man (or woman) of God?
Ask the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, anointing them with costly perfume. When an indignant Pharisee questioned Jesus about allowing this sinful woman (probably a prostitute) to touch him, Jesus said this:
“I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.” Luke 7:47
Have you guessed the identity of the preacher, yet? You won’t find him on YouTube or TV. He was born in 1725.
Before he gave his life to Christ, he was the captain of slave ships. I can only imagine the horror of such ships, but it is well documented that slave ships provided such wretched accommodations that many men, women, and children died before arriving at their intended destination. In the words of a former slave, Olaudah Equiano, “The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying rendered the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable.”
Who was this forgiven reprobate turned preacher-songwriter?
His name is John Newton and he wrote these famous words: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
This celebrated hymn touches my soul because I know that what God’s grace and mercy did for John Newton, He did for me.
As you listen to Amazing Grace, thank God for his mercy and forgiveness. The more we have been forgiven, the more we love Him. That’s what Jesus said.
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 KJV
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:5 NIV
Some people just don’t deserve what you did for them! They’re so ungrateful!
Today, I gave a science test at the Junior High School. I thought the kids would do really well because I had worked hard to prepare them. I created a Jeopardy Game for them to play for review (which wasn’t free, by the way). And I spent considerable time thinking of a better way to explain the concepts. You could say I gave it my all, above and beyond! I knew they would do well.
Only they didn’t!
Some of them were bubbling in random answers without reading the question! (Are you kidding me?!)
Others were looking out the window and thinking about something else. (What’s wrong with these kids?!)
I knew that most of them had not studied and didn’t care if they passed or not. By the time I gave the test to 4 different classes, each set of grades worse than the class before, I was angry and frustrated. (Why should I work harder than they do? I’m tired of this! I don’t care anymore! They can all fail for all I care!! I’m done!)
On the drive home, I mumbled, “Lord help me to have a better attitude.” (and not with a lot of passion).
Right away He reminded me of how patient He was with me when I didn’t care what He had done for me.
What can I say to that? He died for me, and I went about living like I didn’t know it, only I did know it. Yes, there was a time when I did this. When I was at my worst, I’m sure He had angels watching over me to keep me alive until I came to my senses. He was patient with me. He never stopped loving me. And He certainly never said, “I’m done with her!”
After today, I better understand His love, forgiveness, and mercy. He never said, “I don’t care anymore.” He just kept loving me, interceding for me, and calling my name. For this I am eternally grateful.
Let us follow His example, showing His love to those He puts in our path each day.
“David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:5
“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him…” Psalm 103:17 KJV
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high? He raises the poor from the dustand lifts the needy from the ash heap” Psalm 113:5,7 NIV
“He remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever.”Psalm 136:23 NIV
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16 NIV
“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:9
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Jesus