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.”
Over twenty years ago, I became a special education teacher. I quickly realized that I couldn’t make a difference in every student’s life. But the Lord planted in me the idea that if I could make a difference in just one student’s life, I had accomplished something wonderful.
That’s when I learned the Story of the Starfish. It made such a huge impression on me that I hung a dried starfish on my desk lamp as a reminder (and it’s still there today).
The Starfish Story – Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
It’s the same idea the Lord spoke to me about my blog: Don’t pay attention to numbers. Write for individual people. If just one person is encouraged, that’s something wonderful.
Look around for your starfish – someone you can encourage, or maybe even introduce to Jesus. Now that’s something wonderful!