Jesus Teaches on Love and Forgiveness
Open Your Bible
A verse from today’s reading, Luke 7:47, is written in black Sharpie on a scrap piece of paper on my refrigerator from many years ago. In my best attempt at calligraphy, I scribbled it down one afternoon when I felt I needed the reminder. I don’t remember all the exact circumstances surrounding it when I scribed it, but I do remember the season.
I was in a place where my sin and reactions to sin had become especially offensive. I was being sinned against in profoundly hurtful ways and was struggling to react in godliness. I wrote down this verse to remind me that I was supposed to be a forgiving person.
But how could forgiveness, in my situation, be possible? Trying to muster up holiness is ineffective. God has given us his Word for us to draw life and truth. The story of the Bible is not first and foremost about us, though we often like to read it that way. It is first and foremost about God and once we understand who He is, we can understand who we are.
Who is Jesus in the healing of the centurion’s servant (vv.1–10)? He is an Israelite teacher who crosses racial boundaries to heal a Gentile servant. He demonstrates His power and omnipresence over the physical world by curing a sick body from a distance.
Who is Jesus when He raises the widow’s son back to life (vv.11–17)? He is one who is powerful not only over sickly bodies; He can raise even the dead to life. He has compassion for the vulnerable and lowly.
Who is Jesus when he encourages John the Baptist while in prison (vv.18–30)? He is not just a prophet who can perform signs and miracles. As He quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Jesus declares He is the Messiah and is here to fulfill the Old Testament and proclamations of John the Baptist.
And who is Jesus when He sits with the forgiven woman (vv.36–47)? He is a friend of sinners. He can raise our bodies from the dead, but more than that, he raises our souls from death. He perceives the sin of this prostitute and Pharisee as equally deadly. They both owe a debt they cannot pay.
So how, then, is radical forgiveness possible in our lives? By having a right view of God and of sin. We owe a debt we cannot pay to an eternal, omnipresent, compassionate, merciful Messiah. This knowledge will lead us to deeper worship of God and mercy for our brothers and sisters. Even if we have been profoundly sinned against, we can love as Jesus loved.
Did my little piece of paper with a Bible verse magically solve my unforgiveness problem? It surely did not. I failed and continue to fail regularly. But looking back on that particular season, I can see how the Holy Spirit formed my heart around the truths of His gospel promises. I can look back on the growth that He accomplished because of His power, and by God’s grace, He will continue to change all of us to further image Himself.