INI + AMEN
Today, we get a picture of who Jesus is, what sort of Savior He is, how He relates to sinners. It’s all tied to that. How does Jesus relate to sinners? Well, we’d all respond really quick with the correct answer: He saves them. But do we really believe that? We all know the right answers. Jesus is the friend of sinners: He bears their sin, becomes their sin! That’s what Paul says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin.” “He was delivered up for our offenses, but was raised for our justification,” as Paul says elsewhere. We might think of a few other passages as well. We know them, but it’s a hard thing to believe them. When it comes to sinners and Jesus, we put up all sorts of qualifications and steps, benchmarks and rules—things sinners need to do to make amends for their sins. So, when it comes to Christianity, we then have to ask ourselves:
((2.)) What sort of sinners would we keep out?
And we would! We’re all pharisees. Now, what do I mean? Well, we all know the pharisees’ outward problem. They’re judgmental legalists who make laws for themselves and others, and they are! But that’s only a part—that’s right, only a part—of the outward problem. Another outward problem was that they were the religious people. When it came to being faithful, everyone wanted to be the pharisees. But what was the inward problem of the pharisees? We might pipe up, “They’re sinners!” True enough, but the real inward problem was they were sinners who think they’re good, sinners who looked at themselves and said, “I’m not that bad. I’m pretty good.” Oh, they might say that they’re sinners, that is, that they’ve slipped up a little bit here and there, but for them it doesn’t mean that you have no worthiness whatsoever before God, no good in yourself at all—none of that. Sinners were other people. Especially that lady from our text “who was a sinner.” She was notorious. Everyone knew what she did, and what she did was too bad, too awful, too sinful. She hadn’t done anything to fix herself, to make amends. “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” To outward appearances, Jesus was a traveling preacher, and wouldn’t have known. And there was no nightly news, no internet, no social media to spread her story everywhere, so how could He know…unless He was a prophet. That’s Simon’s complaint: Jesus, if he were worth his salt as a prophet, should’ve known! She shouldn’t be touching such a holy man, not as she is! From the thief to the prostitute, from the abortionist to the homosexual, from the murderer to the adulterer, from the alcoholic to the abuser we all have someone that we’d keep out, someone who’s done something so bad that the only way we’d let them in or back in was if they really, really, really showed us that they’re really and truly sorry before we’d even consider letting them back in, and even then, they may have done something so awful, we’re not quite sure about that.
((1. What sort of sinners does Jesus keep out?))
Repent! Why? Well, what sort of sinners does Jesus keep out? None! Absolutely none! There’s no sinner that Jesus excludes. Whether they’re a sinner who’s got lots of sins or sinner who has few sins, it doesn’t matter one bit! From that woman to Simon, the Pharisee—big sinners and little sinners are all forgiven by Jesus. His blood cancels their guilt freely and fully. His death redeems them. His resurrection is for their justification. There’s no payment that sinners can offer—even the woman in our text! She wasn’t forgiven because she was sorry enough, wept enough tears, poured enough oil on Jesus, kissed His feet enough. Jesus had already forgiven her. Jesus didn’t forgive her for anything she’d done. He forgave her because He’s Jesus. That’s what He does: He forgives sinners, brings them into His kingdom, and welcomes them. Within His kingdom, within the Church, there’s only one permanent label for sinners: saint, forgiven, baptized child of God. The world labels people for the wrong they’ve done, and, with technology the way it is now, it never really goes away, but Jesus is completely different. No such labels with Jesus. Those in the world may shame, may have their righteous indignation, may label with thief, drug dealer, adulterer, rapist, or whatever else, but Jesus has already paid for all that. All those things have already been forgiven by His death and resurrection. Sainted sinners—you and me included—now gather around Jesus to hear once again, “Your sins are forgiven .” Sinners, real sinners, with real sins, even bad ones, big ones—those sorts of sinners need Jesus’ free forgiveness. They need the place where Jesus’ absolution can be heard. It doesn’t matter if they have big sins, little sins, many sins, few sins, all are paid for, forgiven.
JESUS MOST DEFINITELY WELCOMES BIG SINNERS INTO HIS KINGDOM.
In fact, He shares a meal with all sorts of sinners! Body and blood given and shed for your for the forgiveness of your sins. Take, eat; take drink—it’s for you!
INI + AMEN