Why are We Holding on to That?
Read: Luke 7:36-50; 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Every now and again, it's time to search for an important paper in the small file cabinet we have in the office. This was one of those weeks. We needed a particular document and we thought we might find it among the papers we have saved. So, we dug through the files. What surprises me pretty much every time we look through the files is what we have saved having, at one time, considered it, to be important. Why are we saving papers that have no relevance for today? When all was said and done, we threw a number of documents away, and the files are much leaner. unfortunately, the document we sought wasn't there; however, among the papers we did discover were proofs of old bills that had been paid off decades ago. One thing is certain. There was no need to keep these reminders of the debts we have owed since they have been paid in full. No more payment will ever be required; therefore, why keep those papers around. So, we tore them up and happily threw them into the trash can. We have no need to ever look at them again. It is freeing to know that a debt has been completely eliminated!
Since that is true concerning a monetary debt, how much sweeter is it to consider that our debt of sin has been completely expunged by Jesus our Lord and Savior? In Isaiah 1:18, the prophet speaks of our sin being red like scarlet. The stain so deep that it can't be removed by natural means. Yet, we have the opportunity to be cleansed as white as snow. The New Testament gives us the proof text concerning the payment that we can receive. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we are told that Jesus became sin for us. We can't truly understand all that those words mean, but when the Lord cried out concerning being forsaken by God, the greatest injustice that could ever occur was taking place. The wrath we deserve was being transferred onto Jesus, 1 John 2:1-2, and we were being given the opportunity to receive Jesus' righteousness. When Jesus said that it was finished, John 19:30, the debt we owed was completely paid, and because that is irrevocably true, we can receive the righteousness that only Jesus can give. In the language of Isaiah, we can be cleansed whiter than snow, Isaiah 1:18, but who can receive this miraculous cleansing?
Let's look into Luke 7:36-50 to remind ourselves of what Jesus says concerning the precious forgiveness He alone can provide. What an amazing incident we read about here, and only Luke tells us about the unexpected guest who came to Simon's house that day. It is obvious by Simon's thoughts that we are privy to that he wasn't glad to have this lady there at his dinner. Just as an aside, we are reminded here again of the divinity of Jesus Who knew what His host was thinking; therefore, He had an important lesson to share with Simon. Simon was correct about one thing. The lady who was anointing and kissing Jesus' feet was a sinner. Jesus never glossed over that fact. The Savior knew that she had committed many sins; however, Jesus wanted Simon to understand that both he and this sinful woman had the most important thing in common. Both owed a debt they were incapable of paying. To look back at Isaiah's words, both of them were stained with sin and unable to cleanse themselves. If their debts were written and placed in a filing cabinet, Simon might have fewer charges against him, but both lacked the ability to be free from the weight of debt. As far as we can humanly know, only one person received Jesus' forgiveness that day because only one person knew she had a debt she could never pay. No wonder the unnamed woman poured out her love on Jesus. She knew how great her need truly was. Simon was so busy looking at her sins that his eyes were closed to his own.
Who then is eligible for the cleansing Jesus wants to give? The one who knows that his debt can only be paid by receiving what the Savior freely holds out. Each of us who belong to Jesus have something in common with Luke's unnamed woman. We know that we were, at one time, weighed down under a debt that we could never pay off. Sometimes when we remember our sins, we are tempted to ruminate longer on the debt we owed than the sweet grace we have received and can therefore hold out to others. In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul didn't gloss over the wrongs he has done; however, he didn't stop there. He reminded Timothy and us that the forgiveness he had received was God's billboard, picturing God's abundant grace. Yes, like the sinful woman in Luke 7, Paul's sins were many, but God's grace which he received was infinitely greater.
There are some thoughts we need to throw away like those old bills we came across in the file cabinet. If our debt has been paid in full, there is no need to continue looking at our sins and failures. Instead, let's look at the joy of the debt having been erased. The Lord won't bring it up against us; so, why should we, Romans 8:1. Let's rejoice with the woman in Luke 7 and the apostle Paul and tell others that they too, can be set free because of what only Jesus can do! Why are we holding on to what Jesus has obliterated?