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“You will find forgiveness and freedom”

May 25, 2023

Daily Scripture

Luke 7:36-50, John 8:1-11

Luke 7

36 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. 37 Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. 38 Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.
40 Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Teacher, speak,” he said.
41 “A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work [Or five hundred denaria]. The other owed enough money for fifty. 42 When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.”
Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”
44 Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. 46 You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. 47 This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

John 8

1 And Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, 4 they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.
7 They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”
11 She said, “No one, sir [or Lord].”
Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In Jesus Revolution, the pastor told the hippies he had shunned, “If you feel you are misunderstood and judged, you will find forgiveness and freedom right here.” Admirable, because that pastor had the courage to share the same message to the same type of people as Jesus delivered in the original Jesus revolution. If anything, the ’70s hippies had it easier than the two women in today’s readings. With religious leaders eager to stone them, Jesus gave them revolutionary forgiveness and freedom.

  • The woman who “crashed” Simon’s feast had already met Jesus, and he’d forgiven her “many sins” (Luke 7:47). Jesus asked Simon a piercing question: “Do you see this woman?” “Simon only saw sin, but Jesus saw the woman and her lavish display of humility, nurture, generosity and love.” * How did Jesus’ pointed contrast in verses 41-47 show the spiritual emptiness of Simon’s pious front, fed in part by his culture’s beliefs in male superiority?
  • In John 8, the Pharisees set an ugly trap. They didn’t mind shaming, even killing, a woman they had probably lured into the act of adultery. (Where was her partner? You can’t commit adultery alone.) Jesus disarmed them and gave their victim a new start. What daily choices and disciplines help you most in connecting with Jesus? When have you needed to hear, and heard, Jesus say to you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore”?

Lord Jesus, you don’t condemn me? You want to stay with me, in my heart? I welcome you; I thank you, and I commit my humbled, grateful self to follow you. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

When I was growing up, my family always dressed up for church. I’d show up on Sundays in my dress, pantyhose, and black dress shoes (unless it was between Easter and Labor Day which were the only times it was acceptable to wear white). My mom and sister did the same, and my dad always wore a suit and tie. We came dressed to the nines each Sunday. I was told it was out of respect for God. As soon as we got home from church, I threw the dress clothes back into the closet as fast as I could. I couldn’t wait to get into my comfy clothes to go out and play.

I don’t recall the last time I wore a dress to church. I barely remember the last time I wore a dress, period. There’s a bit of me that misses dressing up to go to church (though I will never wear a pair of pantyhose again as long as I live). It was fun to get dolled up for a few hours a week. But that’s the thing–I was getting dolled up. That’s not who I really was 95% of the time. Most of the time I was running around outside with friends in shorts and a t-shirt. Many days I’d come home covered in dirt and sweat from head to toe. It was as if there was two of me. There was a Sunday morning Janelle and a “real” Janelle. This created a bit of a disconnect. The message was that “real” Janelle wasn’t good enough for church, wasn’t good enough for God. “Jesus loves me. This I know… as long as I looked and acted my best.”

Perhaps you’ve resonated with this before–the thought that God only wants you when you are at your best. This is a dangerous snare that traps us from receiving God’s abundant mercy. Forgiveness is wasted if we’re only looking for it when our souls are pretty. Forgiveness is for those of us whose souls are dirty and worn from anger, apathy, jealousy, pride, selfishness, and the like. I think God rolls his eyes when we try to come to him all pretty and perfect. He invites us to come as we are, dirty souls and all, because he has the power to wash us clean in the richness of his mercy.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, “Portrait” note on “Woman Who Washed Jesus’ Feet” in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Common English Bible, 2016, p. 1301.