Thurs Scripture - Luke 7:48 - Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Thurs Quote - Miroslav Volf - “Sin is here the kind of purity that wants the world cleansed of the other rather than the heart cleansed of the evil that drives people out by calling those who are clean “unclean” and refusing to help make clean those who are unclean.
Thurs Thought -
There are certainly a number of instances in the gospels where Jesus addresses sin by challenging what is defined as sin and who is labeled a sinner. For instance, in John chapter 9 the disciples ask Jesus, when they see a man who had been born blind, if that disability were caused by the sin of the man's father, the man's mother, or the man himself. Physical disability was thought of as a result of moral impurity. There are many other examples, such as lepers, those unable to walk, and those with other disabilities like a malformed hand. The list goes on. Part of what Jesus does in healing these people is also call into question their rejection as morally suspect or even impure. Sin was ascribed to things that weren't sin.
But that isn't always the case. And today's story is one example. Jesus doesn't challenge the idea that the woman has been sinful. Jesus does challenge the Pharisees assumption of moral superiority and subsequent distancing from and lack of hospitality to the woman. Then Jesus forgives her sin. Let's me honest. Sin can be an uncomfortable topic to touch upon. In my own experience that is because the concept of sin has too often been used as a weapon against others from the pulpit. Talking about sin becomes a way of beating up on those we disagree with, those who are different and even those who are most vulnerable. Sin has also been used as a marketing strategy, attempting to make people feel guilt and shame in order to join the church. All of these ways in which sin has been addressed and utilized are not only unhealthy but inconsistent with the gospel itself, which is good news.
This weeks story offers us an opportunity to think about sin holistically. As we have already said, the experience of guilt and shame, of being denigrated and dehumanized is sin. So Jesus frees the sinful woman from this experience by his reception of her as a beloved child of God. We don't know what the woman's moral failure was specifically. But I think it is fair to assume that there was also moral failure. But Jesus does not reject or distance himself from her. Because Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, he can re-create and so her moral failure is forgiven. That moral failure does not define or control her any longer. She is a new creation. Finally, Jesus is also confronting the sin of the Pharisee, whether we see that as shaming and judging others, or distancing himself from one who has failed morally. Both of these are sins as well. The good news in this instance, stings. The good news confronts and insists on a change. The greater point to all of this is that Jesus has the authority to heal and rescue from the web of sin, whether that is being made to feel shamed, making others feel shame or moral failure. None of these, as powerful as they feel in our lives, is more powerful than Jesus, the creative word of God incarnate. The point of the story is not that we ignore or dismiss sin, but recognize it in all its iterations, and trust that when we are hospitable to Christ, we can be healed, restored, and redefined, Beloved. When we ignore sin because of our discomfort, it maintains power over us. When we acknowledge it with confidence in God's love for us and Jesus's ability to free and forgive us, we are no longer controlled by sin, but compelled by the loving spirit of God.
Thur Study - 1 John 1:5-10; John 3:1-21
Thur Prayer - Holy God, we come before You in humility,
For we do not live as we ought.
We do not love You with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We do not love our neighbor as ourselves.
So we pray, in all humility,
That You will change our hearts and minds,
That You will show us again how to love others the way You love us,
That You will put power and courage in our hearts to do your will.
This we pray in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.