-written by Betsie Richards
Some of my favorite Bible stories are the ones where Jesus gives open, no-holds-barred forgiveness to someone and. at the same time He puts the Pharisees in their place. It may be because I have a “bit” of a snarky side and when Jesus calls the Pharisees out, it makes me smile. It may be because I know I need that open, no-holds-barred forgiveness too.
I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to the Temple where Jesus was teaching. Jesus silences a crowd full of accusers by writing in the dirt and telling the one without sin to throw the first stone. When the crowd leaves without one rock thrown in condemnation, Jesus replies to her with “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” This small statement is a declaration of forgiveness and purpose (see John 8:1-11)
Another favorite of mine is the story of Luke 7:36-50. This passage tells the story of the “sinful woman” and how she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears during dinner at one of the Pharisee’s homes.
When I read this passage earlier, I noticed something new. (Don’t you love how the Word is alive and fresh each time we dive into it?) Verse 38 says, “she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping.” I’m curious why she is behind Jesus, not in front of him. Maybe for the simple reason that there wasn’t room as most guests would be reclined on the floor. Putting myself in her place, I would choose to be behind Jesus, because I wouldn’t want anyone to see me. Obviously, these people had a poor opinion of this woman already so why would she want to be judged by them any further? I’m not sure what her sin was, but when I’m overwhelmed with my sin and the ever-present shame I certainly don’t want to be face to face Jesus.
The enemy loves to beat us down with our feelings of shame and unworthiness. Are we worthy? Not even close, but thanks to Christ’s sacrifice, we are made worthy when we realize there’s no hope outside of Him. Romans 3:24 tells us, “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
After Jesus again calls out the Pharisees, he tells the woman, “Your faith has saved you: go in peace.” He says go, not keep sitting there in shame behind me. It’s a statement that once again shows forgiveness and gives purpose.
How many of us never truly embrace our forgiveness by living it out? I know I’m guilty. What ministry opportunities are we missing because we don’t truly believe we’ve been forgiven or forgiven “enough” to be seen working for the Lord? Or maybe we’re too proud to admit we’ve made mistakes and need that forgiveness. Maybe we want forgiveness but continue to listen to the enemy’s lies that we aren’t worthy?
His death on the cross sealed our forgiveness, our freedom, and our honor to serve alongside Him. Worthy despite our unworthiness, righteous through His sacrifice (see Romans 5:1-11). If you see me walking around with my head down or trying to hide in the background, remind me that I’ve been “dressed with the clothing of Salvation and draped in a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
Betsie has been attending SoHills for nearly 20 years. You may have seen her serving on stage with the band, but she also serves behind the scenes with the Women’s Committee. She has worked at Carrollton ENT for over 20 years. She loves spending time with her family and friends, watching her niece play softball, her nephew play basketball, and any moment possible at the beach.