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“Your Sins Are Forgiven”
Luke 7:36-50


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost—June 23, 2013

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our message is based today’s Gospel Reading from the seventh chapter of Luke, commonly called  the story of the “sinful woman,” especially this verse printed on today’s bulletin cover: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . .  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”

We do not know the actual name of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet and anointed him with perfume in this Gospel story.  She is usually referred to simply as the “sinful woman.”  But, that is only part of her story.  Because, she is not only the “sinful woman.”  She is also the “repentant woman,” the “believing woman,” and the “loving woman.”

It seems that her sinful way of life was well-known to everyone in town.  Simon the Pharisee is shocked that Jesus would even have anything to do with such a notorious sinner.

What Simon the Pharisee failed to recognize is that like this woman, whom he and everyone in town considered to be such a notorious sinner, in the sight God we are all wicked sinners.  Some of our sins are like hers: open, obvious, well-known.  But, we are also all guilty of many secret sins.  Evil thoughts known only to ourselves; wicked acts we think are well-hidden from everyone, like David’s sin with Bathsheba in today’s Old Testament Reading, which he thought was a secret from everyone--but not from God.

As Paul warns in Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be fooled.”  He knows the evil attitude of your heart; he knows the wickedness of your life; he knows all about even your secret sins.

Simon the Pharisee was actually quite right when 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.”  Jesus did know she was a sinner; he knew all about her sins.  And Jesus does know that you are a sinner; he knows all about your sins.

We confess in the Nicene Creed, “He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead,” and Paul warns in 2nd Corinthians, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”  On Judgment Day, you deserve to receive from him on account of your sins nothing less than everlasting damnation.  You deserve to be cast out, in the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  You deserve to be thrown into the fire of hell.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . .  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”  The sinful woman deserved to be spurned by Jesus and cast out of the Pharisee’s house.  But, she is not only the “sinful woman.”  She is also the “repentant woman.”  She confessed her sins to Jesus, not with words, but with the unspoken confession of her tears.  “Return to me with all your heart,” the Lord says in Joel.  “Return to me with  . . . weeping and mourning. . .  return to the Lord your God, for he gracious and merciful.”

Like the sinful woman, sorrow over your sin, lament your evil, repent and turn to God.  Like the sinful, repentant woman, “Return to the Lord your God, for he gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . .  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”  She is not only the “sinful woman.”  She is also the “repentant woman,” and the “believing woman.”  She believes that Jesus could and would forgive all her sins.  She believes he is the promised Savior, who takes away the sin of the world. 

Like the sinful, repentant, believing woman, put your trust in Jesus.  “Your sins are forgiven.”  Forgiven by Jesus himself, because he himself paid for your sins, as Martin Luther says in the Small Catechism, “not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood, and with his innocent suffering and death.”

What joy the woman had that day when Jesus proclaimed to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  That is also your joy today, for Jesus proclaims to you today in his holy Word, “Your sins are forgiven”; Jesus proclaims to you today in Holy Baptism, “Your sins are forgiven”; Jesus proclaims to you today in Holy Absolution, “Your sins are forgiven”; Jesus proclaims to you today in Holy Communion, “Your sins are forgiven.”  

The prophet Micah beautifully describes God’s complete forgiveness of all your sins: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives . . . transgression . . . ? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot, and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . .  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”  She is not only the “sinful woman.”  She is also the “repentant woman,” the “believing woman,” and the “loving woman.”  Like the man in Jesus’ parable, who was cancelled a big debt, she loved much because she was forgiven much. 

She showed her love by serving her Savior, washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.  She showed her love by offering up to Jesus her greatest treasure, a precious alabaster jar of expense perfume to anoint her Lord.  And surely she showed her love for her Savior by leaving behind from then on her former sinful ways and instead living for the Lord a godly life.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. . .  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”  So, today’s Gospel Reading is not just the story of the “sinful woman,” because that is only part of her story, the story of the sinful, repentant, believing, loving woman.  Like the debtor in Jesus’ parable, her debt to God and your debt to God has been cancelled, paid for you by Jesus himself. 

Like the woman in today’s Gospel Reading you are a sinner.  But, that is only part of her story, and only part of your story.  For, just as Jesus spoke to her 2,000 years ago, through his Word and Sacraments he still speaks to you today, proclaiming to you the Good News, “Your Sins Are Forgiven.”

Amen.

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