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God’s Word for You

Luke 7:48-50 All sins forgiven

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  49 Then the other guests began to say to one another, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The word for “sins” in these verses is the archery term hamartia, “to miss the target” or miss the mark. It’s a word used in Greek to describe sins that we commit, even if we’re trying to do what God commands but fall far short. This woman had led a life of sin, probably of prostitution, so some people might argue that she wasn’t trying very hard to obey God’s commands. But we don’t know anything about her circumstances. Was she destitute? Was she suffering from an unbearable debt she was trying to pay? Was there no other means of making money for an unmarried woman? Was she caring for a family? It doesn’t help us to speculate since there is no answer to these questions. All we know is that her lifestyle ran contrary to the will of God, and she was sorry about it—whether she had felt it was necessary at one time, or not.

It’s never any fun to know that God condemns something you might want to do, even if it’s a trivial thing. What we have to do is trust that God knows best, and place ourselves under his commands. It’s really only in the path of obedience that we can know true freedom and joy; pleasure without guilt, and happiness without consequences. Those things don’t exist in the broad highway of sin, because only a fool who turns completely away from God will be able to sin without any pang of conscience, and even then, the conscience remains.

Jesus knew this woman’s remorse over her sin, and he knew that she put all her faith in him. “I know what is going through your mind,” the Lord says (Ezekiel 11:5). She was repentant, and she trusted in Jesus—and he forgave her. God forgives all of our sins, as well, in our baptism, in the absolution, in the Lord’s Supper, and when we hear and read it in the gospel.

But someone might wonder: Does baptism (for example) only wash away our original sin, or the sins we’ve committed up to the moment of our baptism? Remember the meaning of the word in the inspired text: hamartia. These are sins of commission, sins we do, not only the sins we’re born with. This is the sinful state we all live in. It is this sinful status before God that is sent away by God through the faith he gives us. So John the Baptist didn’t preach a baptism of repentance for the guilt of original sin, he preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (hamartia, Mark 1:4). Jesus also said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (hamartia, Matthew 26:28). And the work of Jesus is described this way: “When this high priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins (hamartia), he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). The whole ministry of Jesus was to offer his flesh and blood for the sending away, the forgiveness, of our sins—all of them.

The dinner guests fell to wondering: “Who is this? He even forgives sins!” But we know. This man is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. And through his flesh we have forgiveness, holiness, and everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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