During his 1953 Inauguration, Dwight D. Eisenhower had a Bible opened to II Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness . . . put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:2-4, 7
“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