And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 49 καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; (Luke 7:48-49 NA28)

48 And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I went to “Easter” services at our church with my family last night. Yes, we still call it that, but I assure you there was nothing pagan, or worldly about what went on there. I heard the Gospel preached clearly and succinctly. I heard how vital our Lord’s resurrection is to not only our faith, but also to our entire orthodox belief system. Jesus was raised from the dead and 40 days later he was taken up into Heaven to sit at right had of God the Father. However, we are told in the Word that in like manner, our Lord will return. (Acts 1:9-11) As I heard the Gospel preached I rejoiced and worshipped God and thanked Him for saving me. I know that I most certainly am unworthy of being one of the elect, but that is the nature of grace and I as I think back on how God the Father drew me to the Son even though I was not even thinking about going that way myself, I am amazed that He would have mercy on a wretch like me. In Luke 7:36-50 we are given the circumstances of our Lord saving a woman who most of us could most certainly relate to if we are honest.

In Luke 7:36-50 there are three main characters. There is our Lord Jesus Christ, Simon the Pharisee, and an unnamed woman who is referred to in v37 and v39 simply as ἁμαρτωλός (hamartōlos), “sinful, sinner.” The events in this passage take place at a meal in Simon’s home and there are others reclining at the table with them. The unnamed woman is uninvited. These events take place in Galilee immediately after John the Baptist’s disciples have come to our Lord on his bequest to confirm whether Jesus is indeed the Messiah. He then shows the Pharisee’s hypocrisy in vv31-35 for rejecting John the Baptist even though he lived in rigid abstinence even though they demanded that of our Lord while the message preached by both was the same. Then in v36 one of these Pharisees, Simon, invites Jesus to eat with him.

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors:one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “ Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “ Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “ Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50 NASB)

If we put this passage in context, we know that Simon the Pharisee probably had ulterior motives for having Jesus over to his house for this meal. Notice also that he did not treat him as an honored guest. Simon knew of the reputation of the woman weeping and anointing our Lord’s feet. What was his reaction? His reaction was based in his contempt for sinners. He was convinced that if Jesus knew her character, he would have sent her away. Why? Her very touching of him was presumed to convey ceremonial uncleanness. In other words, he cared nothing for the spiritual needs of those who desperately needed forgiveness and to hear the words of life. Of course, his whole theology was totally based in works righteousness.

Early in this ministry I wrote an article about the unbiblical nature of the ministry of Rick Warren. I wrote it on my old PC one night and transferred it over to my new MAC, which I got the next day and converted it to a new format for the Word Processor on it. In any case, there was one section in which two words came together with no space between then and I did not catch it. I posted it. One very well known Purpose Driven pastor posted a very rough comment basically telling me that that post couldn’t be from God because of that typo being in there. I thanked him for pointing out the typo, fixed it, and I never heard from him again. What did I learn? What do we learn from this? It is the very same thing Jesus was teaching us in Luke 7 with how these Pharisees think. Their rejection of the truth is deliberate and they are determined not to hear it.

Jesus’ reaction to this woman is radically different than Simon’s. He does not pull away from her. He allows her to weep and wash his feet with her tears, dry them with her hair and anoint them with the very expensive ointment or oil. The Greek clearly says in v40 that Jesus answered Simon proving that he was indeed a prophet, knowing Simon’s thoughts.

In vv41-42 our Lord poses a question of comparison. If a creditor freely forgives two debtors who cannot pay, but one owes 10 times as much as the other, which will love the creditor more? Simon supposes that the one forgiven the most money will love him more.

In vv44-46 our Lord compares what this sinful woman has done for him since his arrival at Simon’s house while Simon failed to treat Jesus with the respect of an honored quest in any shape form or fashion.

47 οὗ χάριν λέγω σοι, ἀφέωνται αἱ ἁμαρτίαι αὐτῆς αἱ πολλαί, ὅτι ἠγάπησεν πολύ· ᾧ δὲ ὀλίγον ἀφίεται, ὀλίγον ἀγαπᾷ. (Luke 7:47 NA28)

47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven for she loved much, but to whom little is forgiven, he loves little..” (Luke 7:47 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What does our Lord mean? This woman was not forgiven because she loved much. If we go back to vv41-42, the forgiving of the loans was unconditional, and love was the result. Therefore, we cannot make the woman’s love the reason for her forgiveness for this would distort the lesson Jesus is teaching. He then clearly tells the woman in v48 that her sins are forgiven. It is then those others at the table marvel at who Jesus is or who does he think he is, et cetera for making such a statement. It is in v50 that it is made clear why this woman’s sins are forgiven. She exhibited true faith and now has peace with God.

Simon the Pharisee and those like him attempt to have peace through works righteousness while walling up all possibility to access to God to those like this woman who desperately need to hear the words of life and have access to the Saviour. This is why I am a Monergist not a Synergist. God saves his people despite the wacky religiosity of those all around us that darkens the truth and attempts to direct people down wrong paths. This woman came to where Jesus was and notice that she was already weeping when she got there. The Father drew her to the Son, gave her to him and her regenerate faith saved her by the grace of God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

38 thoughts on “And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

  1. I likewise had a Christocentric worship service at my church this weekend, highlighting the sacrificial, atoning death of Christ and the importance of His resurrection. While my pastor does not hold to Calvinism, he did declare that if God does not call, sinners cannot come to Him. How sweet the grace of our Lord and Savior are – all the more when we rightly recognize we are no more worthy than the sinful women in Simon’s house.

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  2. Mickey – Mike is correct. I would be another A.W. Pink if there were only Methodist churches in this area. As it is, there are many Baptist churches that merely outposts for Billy Graham. The church that we joined is the only one we found that is serious about the Word of God and reforming to Scripture – though we see some things differently and our vocabulary is not quote the same. It is a good place to be, nonetheless.

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  3. LOL If not Methodist, perhaps Pentecostal Free Will Baptist! Yes. I think that must be it…🙂

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  4. Before I moved back to Oklahoma a few years ago I was invited to attend a rural church by “family” on Easter. The pastor knew who I was… What was his Easter sermon about? It was about the evils of Calvinism… No, really. And he spent half the time looking right at me while misusing scripture to make some horrid out of context points from scripture. Manfred can attest that if you are a Calvinist to a person who is in the darkness of Pelagian Captivity then you are to them a HYPER-CALVINIST and there is not one thing you can do or say to make them understand that you are not. I have learned to smile and simply seek Christian fellowship and point people to the Word and not allow any deviation from it.

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  5. Oh, and G.B. O….Geneva Bible Only!
    We are part of a Church Split/Plant in a neighboring city that has at least 3 flavors of Baptist Franchise in the mix. The beauty is they are all rejected by their prior franchises now and are finding Christian fellowship in their tribulation. The traditions of men are falling away in favor of the Word in context which is wonderful. Also they function as a plurality of elders, though I am limited by a “2 year covenant not to compete” LOL.
    I look forward to the eventual Baptismal Service once the tank thaws as the Reformed guys may be stirring up the waters with infants, LOL while the rest attempt to form a fresh set of rule of engagement. This will be made more interesting as they want this plant to be family integrated.
    Manfred, come preach in view of a call? Your rural Okie experience would be invaluable here!

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  6. Mickey – there are more “free-will” Baptist churches in this area than there are mail boxes, Most of them don’t label themselves as such, but are, in fact. The deacons of the covert free-will church that hired and fired me as pastor within 4 weeks declared they had NEVER seen a Calvinist, though they had heard much about them from folk such Paige Patterson. They worship the altar call though the Scriptures mention not once about a an altar in the New Covenant church and they won’t hear from Scripture the message of predestination. They hates it! They hand out HSCB Bibles – which have one of the best treatments of John 3:16 and they tell me I’m nuts when I explained it in the same way as the HSCB. Such does not agree with Billy Graham, so they will not tolerate it.

    As Mike described it well – they will not hear the Word of God. May God have mercy.

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  7. Mickey – you crack me up. As I told you via email a while back – I am humbled that would want me to come preach, but we are not moving again unless the Lord speaks to us as He did to Abraham and Sarah in telling them they would have a child.

    BTW – not all reformed Christians are paedobaptists. I am writing a book explaining the Baptist view of reformed theology – and will be hated by 1689 guys everywhere.

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  8. Finneyism is what we are describing. I would rather have some doctrinal give and take with a genuine Arminian than these Pelagian “Christians” whose idols are “Free-Will”, “Self-Righteousness”, “Billy Graham”, and “Experiential Christianity.” When I do have to deal with them it usually comes back to me from them like this, “I don’t believe that so you must be wrong…”. By-the-way, Billy Graham is a big fan of Finney and gives him credit for how he shaped his ministry… When I was growing up as a SBC kid, my parents acted like Billy Graham was part of the Trinity…

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  9. Kind of tough to teach election to those who save themselves by their own selection I would imagine.
    The 2 of you have no idea how much I appreciate the Work He has done in each of you over these past half dozen years. Nor perhaps do you realize how much Work He has done THROUGH each of you either! Thanks brothers! Now let us all get back to sanctification class as the Teacher awaits!

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  10. I’ve got to get an Avatar… Mine looks like something that fell of an Amish barn for crying out loud!

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  11. I need sanctification more every day. You would think it would be the other way around wouldn’t you…🙂 In any case, I have been in discussions with several people who are a few years behind us in their dealings with “Christian celebrities.” They are upset about how they are treated when the big shots aren’t perfect, strike back when corrected, and act like real jerks at times. I get a lot of people wanting to know how to handle that. The real question we should be asking is why there are Christian celebrities at all…

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  12. I love what I heard from Paul Washer a few years ago at a conference in Houston: “I am sick and tired of hearing about “great men of God.” There are NO great men of God! There are only weak sinful men use by a great God!” Celebrity Christians need to get back to the Bible – “Woe when all men speak well of you!” They need to step down and seek to be pleasing to God.

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  13. Manfred went silent. He must be praying about moving here to Pennsylvania to candidate like I asked him to…

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  14. There can be no purification of the Ecclesia without persecution brother, remember that!
    Is that a tornado siren I hear in the background?

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  15. “I ain’t moving to Pennsylvania…” The Lord LOVES it when His under-shepherd’s dig in like that, Manfred. I might as well start looking for a house for you now!

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  16. Mike can come over and help you pack! He doesn’t look that tall anyways, so hire him as your youth pastor!

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  17. Sounds like you are a “date setter”, Mickey. That didn’t turn out so well for others who tried it.:-)

    I would love more than anything to be used by God to preach to His people, but I must also live with my dear wife with understanding. And she ain’t moving off the mountain we bought and sit on top of, in our 30 foot travel trailer, unless the Lord give her another child.

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  18. By the way Mike. The best way to get to a preacher who preaches AT you is to take copious notes never looking up at him. Then yell Amen at opportune times like when he says he’s just about finished…

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  19. I just stared at him with a look that alternated between pity and incredulity. Of course, when I got home I wrote a post about the whole thing. I’m sure he read it.🙂

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