Return.

Mercy

God of mercy.  That is who He is.

The topical title for Jeremiah 3:6-4:4 is Unfaithful Israel.  “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done?” (Jeremiah 3:6. NIV84)  “But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to Me, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 3:20. NIV84).  Even so, the call “return” appears numerous times throughout these chapters.  Why would God want to call a people…a person who has been unfaithful to Him to return to His side?  God of mercy.  That is who He is.

Nehemiah 9 describes another instance of God’s mercifulness.

“You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt; You heard their cry at the Red Sea.  You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all of his officials and all the people of his land, for You knew how arrogant the Egyptians treated them.  You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.  You divided the sea before them so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths like a stone into mighty waters.  By day You led them with a pillar of clouds and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.  You came down on Mount Sinai; You spoke to them from heaven.  You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good.  You made known to them Your Sabbath and gave them commandments, decrees, and laws through Your servant Moses.  In their hunger You gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst You brought them water from the rock; You told them to go in and take possession of the land You had sworn with uplifted hand to give them…” (Nehemiah 9″9-15, NIV84).

All these great, miraculous signs and wonders God had done and still the people turned from Him.  “But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey Your commands.  They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them, they became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery” (Nehemiah 9:17b, NIV84).

How quick are we…am I to judge the Israelites?  Condemning, “They experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God, they saw His wondrous hand, they escaped slavery and peril because He miraculously led them out and they in full will turned away from Him.  What stupidity!”  Are we…am I so innocent of such?  Are not there are times when alike the Israelites we…I refuse to listen and fail to remember and obey in spite of what God has done to reveal Himself to us…to me?

Why would God want to forgive them…forgive us…forgive me?  God of mercy.  That is who He is.

“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, FOR I AM MERCIFUL,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever.  Only acknowledge your guilt– you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,'” declares the Lord.  “‘Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 3:12-14, NIV84).

May we…may I not take the mercy of God for granted.  May we listen to His beckoning, His merciful call to return to His side.  May we come.  May we see the Christ child in the manger as Mercy come down to us and revealed for us, the Forgiveness of God given…given.  May we acknowledge our guilt, accepting who He is– God of Mercy–, and return to walk at His side as individuals, as families, as churches, as communities, as countries.  That is my prayer this Christmas.

Victoria

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Lacey Sturm’s Ransom Note

Thank God for Jesus Christ, through whom God demonstrates His own love toward us (Romans 5:8, NASB95)!  While we– all of us— were yet sinners– unrighteous, unholy, letting the pride of our hearts keep us from trusting God and knowing His Salvation, having hatred toward Him– He sought to love us!  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7, NIV84).  May we know the reality of God’s love for us today, knowing that it is His pleasure to ransom us…it is His pleasure to be the Ransom for us!  He doesn’t want us to be held back by the hatred and pride of our hearts– He doesn’t want us to continue on and die in our sins!  May we truly understand the beauty and greatness of Christ’s lovingkindness, grace, and mercy and live as heirs who have been ransomed by Him and who have the hope of eternal life!

Victoria

Willingly and Wholly Devoted?

BurgerAndFries

My mother and I are preparing for an upcoming women’s Bible study centered on the theme, “FROM DEMONS TO DELIVERANCE AND DEVOTION: THE TESTIMONY OF MARY OF MAGDALA”.  Mary of Magdala (or Mary Magdalene) is mentioned multiple times throughout each of the four Gospels (Mt. 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40, 47; 16:1-13; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; and Jn. 19:25; 20:1-18).  This is quite remarkable being as the authors of the Gospels wrote them with distinct emphases for their original audiences and functional themes, yet they each understood the testimony of Mary of Magdala to be relevant to their Gospels’ specific audiences and themes to each make repeated mentions of her. 1

The accounts of Mary of Magdala in the Gospels are pretty evenly split between descriptions of her individually and descriptions of her with a group of women.  It is interesting to note that in the places where she is mentioned with a group of women her name heads the list.

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Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their [Jesus’ and the Twelve Disciples’] support [or care] out of their private means” (Luke 8:2b-3, NASB95).

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These women devoted themselves to Christ, and accordingly, to the work of His ministry.  They attended to Christ, ministering to (serving) Him out of their substance – of their possessions, what they had.  Scholar Ben Witherington II writes in his socio-rhetorical commentary of the Gospel of Mark, “the women [among whom Mary of Magdala is included] are disciples, for they are clearly described as those who both followed and served Jesus in Galilee, two things that characterize discipleship”.

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“There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.  When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to [or serve] Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem” (Mark 15:40-41, NASB95).

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Discipleship…I thought that we were talking about devotion, so which is it!?!

Devotion and discipleship are not either-or’s.  Devotion and discipleship are both-and’s — they are like both hamburgers and french fries (or sweet potato fries, if you’re like me), both spaghetti and meatballs, both oreos and milk, both coffee and mornings, both leather jackets and Fonzie — they go together!  A disciple refers to “one who puts himself [or herself] under the teaching of someone else and learns from him”.2  Discipleship refers to “follow[ing] the precepts and instructions of another”.3  Such definitions imply willing devotion on behalf of the disciple.  In order to be a disciple, an individual must be willingly devoted the one and therefore the teachings of the one of whom he or she is a disciple.

Mary of Magdala and the group of women who accompanied her were willingly and wholly devoted disciples of Christ.  Jesus had delivered them and they did not forget that!  They had received grace and in gratefulness they responded graciously.  They were those described alike “good soil”; they had heard the word in an honest and good heart, and held it fast, and bore fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15).

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Are we “good soil”?

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Are our lives seen as works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NASB95)?  Is it obvious that we have been delivered by Christ and are disciples who are willingly and wholly devoted to Him?  Do we respond graciously in gratefulness to the grace we have received?  Will we follow Christ and serve Him wherever, however, whenever He instructs?

“YOU live among the least of these: the weary and the weak, and it would be a tragedy for me to turn away, all my needs YOU have supplied. When I was dead YOU gave me life. How could I not give it away so freely? I’ll follow YOU into the homes of the broken, I’ll follow YOU into the world, and meet the needs for the poor and the needy, GOD, I’ll follow YOU into the world…I give all myself, I give all myself, and I give all myself to YOU” (Leeland, Follow You <– Click to view the music video)!

Victoria

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ENDNOTES:

1.  The original audiences and functional themes of the Gospels are typically considered to be as follows:

–  the Gospel of Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Promised Messiah and Expected King who fulfills the Law, Prophets, and Writings;

–  the Gospel of Mark was written with a Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Sovereign Savior and Servant who suffered on our behalf taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself;

–  the Gospel of Luke was written with an specific individual (Theophilus) and general Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as reliably and verifiably Perfect God Perfect Man; and

–  the Gospel of John was written with a unbelieving audience in mind (John 20:30-31), emphasizing Jesus as the Eternal Word, Wonderful Truth, and Everlasting Life.

Please note that while the Gospels as literary works have distinct original audiences and functional themes, they maintain a consistently unified theological purpose– Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Living and Loving God and Eternal Risen Savior of Jews and Gentiles (all men and women alike) through His absolute and gracious sacrifice for us sinners in utmost need of Him, to those who believe He gives forgiveness, redemption, and life through His Precious Spirit – and their message is equally meant for us!

2. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997).

3. Ibid..

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But dust…

Sheep

“I know that You are for me, I know that You are for me
I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are” (Kari Jobe, You Are For Me <- click to view the music video).

The psalmist praises in Psalm 103:14,”For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (NASB95).  How awesome is that!  God Jehovah knows us!  He knows our weaknesses, our fallibility.  He knows we are finite and pathetic.

What’s more is that He Himself in all His Sovereign Perfection and Power has not abandoned us in our weaknesses, our fallibility, our finiteness, our inadequacy!  He pardons all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, and satisfies our years with good things (Psalm 103:3-5)!

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward  t h o s e   w h o   f e a r   H i m.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on  t h o s e   w h o   f e a r   H i m ” (Psalm 103:10-11, NASB95).

“Compassion” in this scripture is translated from the Hebrew, rachumRachum comes from the root word rechem which pertains to the womb.  Rachum is concerned with the tender mercy of God.  “The root refers to deep love (usually of a “superior” for an “inferior”) rooted in some ‘natural’ bond”. 1  The word compassion expresses God’s parental love for humanity.

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“His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NASB95)

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So how is it that God who knows our weaknesses, our fallibility, our finiteness, our inadequacy and who is mindful that we are but dust is compassionate toward us anyway?

He is compassionate because of who He is!  By no means is it because we deserve it.  It is because of His good pleasure!  God has shown undeserved grace to us― a rebellious, undeserving people!  We deserve to perish because of our sins and iniquities, yet “it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14, NKJV79).  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, ESV01).

Oh, that we would recognize the severity of our spiritual wretchedness and understand the significance of, and accept, the Father’s compassion toward us, revering Him for who He is!

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.  Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, nor remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Your people” (Isaiah 64: 8-9, NASB95).

“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.  He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.  Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19, NASB95).

God Is Good!

Victoria

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1. Harris, R. Laird, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999. 841.

“Arch Enemies”

ArchEnemies

Holding grudges and being angry are things we all struggle with.  In a sense, each one of us has an “arch enemy” or “arch enemies” at some time or another.  You know that person who no matter what he or she says or does just makes your blood boil?

How many times have we become hateful?  How many grudges have we held?  How many times have we let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26)?

It’s easy for each of us to justify ourselves by saying, “But that person hurt me, so he or she was deserving of such emotions and treatment”!  Today our world is filled with so much hatred and anger.  It’s sad to say that our schools, workplaces, homes, and even our churches are among the very locations in which such emotions and treatments transpire.

Why are we contributing to the fulfillment of Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold” (ASV1901)?  What happened to forgiveness?  Have we forgotten Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:14-15, “if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (NKJV82)?

Jesus set the perfect example of forgiveness for us to emulate — “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Romans 5:8&10, NASB95)!  As Jesus was being beaten and hung on a cruel cross, He endured it for us that our sins may be forgiven!  As the whip and the thorns and the nails penetrated His flesh, He was thinking of YOU in love and grace and mercy!  Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (NASB95).

God does not want us to remain His enemies and unforgiven, neither does He want us to remain unforgiving toward those we consider to be our enemies.  Remember that we wronged God -and more severely than any person has or could wrong us- yet He lavished the riches of His grace on us, making His forgiveness accessible to us!

Just as Christ forgave us, we must also forgive others.  Not begrudgingly, but with love- the love Christ showed us.  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:7&19, NIV84).

Eph.4.31-32

Mtt.5.43-44

Nicholas, Vincent, and Victoria

True Hope Ministry Team

who’s created in whose image?

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

GOD the Creator of the universe created us (male and female) in His image.  Yet, how many times do we create GOD in our own image?   Do we sometimes make GOD our Santa Claus, or a mean ogre ready to pounce on us, or too much of our “buddy pal”.   What about making GOD into an absent GOD who doesn’t really care, or a GOD who doesn’t take sin seriously?  When we are having a great day and are filled with joy – do we think, “Oh boy, GOD must be so happy with us”?   When we are having a bad day when we are grumpy or complaining – do we think, “Oh no, GOD will surely leave us now”?.  I can go on and on.   It is like being on a roller coaster ride, up and down and all around – wherever our feelings take us.  Thank GOD He is not moved or changed by the image we have of Him or the way we feel from day to day.

So what does the Word of GOD say about who HE really is?

God is Holy and He cannot look on sin.   Our sin separated us from Him.   John 3:16 states, “For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”   God loves us so much that He did not want to be separated from us.  He made a way for us so we would not have to perish in hell.  Because of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection we can forever be with our Loving Heavenly Father.   Once we except by faith what Jesus has done for us, we can receive and expect all of His promises.  Some of His many promises are: He will never leave us or forsake us; Jesus takes our sins away, casts them into the depths of the sea and forgets about them; He tells us that if we ask anything in His Name, according to His will, He will do it; He will provide all our needs; He will heal us (spiritually, emotionally, physically…); and He will give us His peace (which passes all understanding), comfort, correction and direction!

The Bible tells us that Jesus is our friend who sticks closer than a brother, but He is also the KING of Kings and the LORD of Lords.   He is the Lamb of GOD, and is also the LION of the Tribe of Judah.   God is Love, yet He is also a Consuming Fire.   He is JUST AND MERCIFUL because He extends His uncompromising righteousness to the unrighteous- those who don’t deserve it!

For those of us who are tired of making GOD into our image, Jesus tells us to come to him all who are tired and weary and He will give us est for our souls.   He will forgive our sins, cleanse and make us whole, make us children of the King with an inheritance in Heaven.   We will have eternal life – a room in our Heavenly Father’s home – never to be alone again.  No sin is too great.   Jesus’ blood is greater!  He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.

Let us have this image of GOD.   The true image.  Not what the world tells us of Him or what we imagine HIM to be, but what HIS WORD tells us HE IS.

Taste and see that the LORD is good, How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34:8)

 – Mary

Obedience

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading a lot about the importance of obedience.  It seems that often times, people are seeking after revival and “the miracles”, but they do not start by obeying all that GOD commands.   They may go through “rituals” like fasting or spending an hour a day reading the bible, but if it is not combined with obeying GOD and HIS word, it is really of no benefit and does not produce the desired result.

It is important to remember that the LORD is looking for our Obedience…not our Sacrifice or our Works.   This can be seen in 1 Samuel 15: 22-23, where Samuel speaks to Saul, the first king of Israel and tells him “22…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?   To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”

Samuel then went on to tell Saul that the LORD had rejected him because he had rejected the word of the LORD…literally because of his disobedience.

The Definition of “OBEY” is to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions.  The Bible reminds us that sacrificing and following rituals is not what obedience is all about.   As we see in the verse in 1 Samuel, GOD is looking for our obedience to HIM, to HIS will, and to HIS voice.   Are we obeying  all that GOD commands us today?

If you take a closer look, you will see that there are numerous examples in the Bible which speak of the benefits of obeying God.  Let’s take a look at some of these promises.

God’s Promise to Isaac:     Genesis 26:4-6 (NASB),  “…4 I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”   6 So Isaac lived in Gerar…”

God’s Promise to the Israelites through Moses:     Exodus 23:21-23 (NASB), “…21 Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. 22 But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them…”

God’s Promise to Joshua:    Joshua 1:7-8 (NASB),  “…7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success…”

God’s Promise to His people through Jeremiah:     Jeremiah 7:22-24 (NASB),  “…22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward…”

In each case, we see that there is favor and blessing that comes to those who obey.  Unfortunately there are even more examples in scripture of instances where a lack of obedience leads to punishment.

Romans 6:15-17 tells us that we are slaves to whoever we obey.   “…15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted…”

So are we slaves to sin?  The world?  The enemy?   Or are we slaves to JESUS?  Whom do we obey?

Now you may be thinking does this all mean we have to perfect all of the time?   What if I mess up?  What happens when I don’t obey?  Once again looking to scripture, I believe we can find the answer to this common question.

Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that:  “…8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them…”

How awesome is that?   The expectation is NOT that we will be perfect.    Instead we need to just be Obedient and because of JESUS and all that HE is and all that HE does, we are perfected by Grace, through faith!    That’s what the GRACE of GOD is all about!

Be Obedient to JESUS today….and HE will do the rest!

just how much does it mean

A conversation is recorded in Luke 7:36-50 between Jesus and a Pharisee, Simon as they dine.  In this text, Simon receives an implicit and then explicit teaching about  f o r g i v e n e s s.

As Jesus is reclining at Simon’s table eating the meal, a woman ─unnamed in the Gospel of Luke─ with a well apparent, ill reputation as a sinner in her city enters the house, stands behind Jesus, and weeps at His feet.  She has brought an alabaster jar of perfume with her.  As her tears are wetting His feet, she is drying them with her hair, kissing them, and pouring the perfume on them.  Appalled, Simon the Pharisee says to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of a woman she is” (Lk. 7:36, NIV84).  Then Jesus addresses Simon’s muttering (what he had said  t o     h i m s e l f)  with the implicit teaching…

“Two men owned money to a certain money lender.  One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?” (vv. 41-42, NIV84)  To this Simon replies, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled” (v. 43, NIV84).

He had judged correctly─ the one who had the bigger debt canceled would be the one who expressed the more love toward the lender.  Then came the explicit teaching…

Jesus says to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” (v. 44, NIV84).  And He continues by contrasting what Simon has failed to do and what the woman has done:

“You gave Me no water for my feet, BUT she has wet my feet with her tears” (v. 44, AB);

“You gave Me no kiss, BUT she…has not ceased [intermittently] to kiss My feet tenderly and caressingly” (v. 45, AB);

“You did not anoint My head with [cheap, ordinary] oil, BUT she has anointed My feet with [costly, rare] perfume” (v. 46, AB);

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven her─ because [or for] she has loved much” (v. 47, AB).

Ouch!  If this account was presented in cartoon-form, I could just picture that Simon’s jaw would drop to the ground right about here.  Wouldn’t yours?  Jesus comes to your city.  You invite him over for a Sunday afternoon meal.  You don’t greet Him at the door, you don’t offer to take His coat, and you forget to give Him something to drink.  As you sit down at the table, some overtly-emotional woman who people like you go to extremes to avoid association, let alone all contact, with barges in your house with the puffiest, pinkest eyes you have ever seen and dives under the table to untie Jesus’ shoes!  And what does Jesus do at this moment but begin to discuss finance with you!

As His initially irrelevant finance lesson progresses in the madness of this ridiculous scene, you come to progressively realize that the lesson just might not be so irrelevant.  The question echoes in your head, “Which of the debtors expresses more love toward the lender who canceled their debts?”  And you realize that this is the point of the lesson: the attitude of the two debtors toward the lender who forgave both of them. [1]

The Bible often describes sin in likeness to debt: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Lk. 11:4, NKJV).  Even the account in Luke 7:36-50 moves from talk of cancelation of debt to forgiveness of sins.  In the concluding verses, “Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ [and’ [t]he other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?'” (vv.48-49, NIV84).

Remember the implicit teaching─ both debtors were, well, debtors and neither of them had the money to pay back their debt?  Yet, we learn that the lender alone had the sovereignty to satisfy the debt on their behalf.  You see, God alone forgives sin.  He has sole sovereignty to satisfy the debt of our sin ─for we are all debtors─ and only Christ’s blood is satisfactory ─for we could never satisfactorily pay for the forgiveness our sins.

So just how much does the cancelation of your debt ─ which you did not have nor could ever have the capability to satisfy ─ mean?  Does it mean enough to    c r y   o u t, not merely in the contriteness of heart for mercy but equally in the overwhelming joy of your salvation and love of your Savior with thanksgiving and praise and gladness?

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to Me, I will call on Him as long as I live…The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion…when I was in great need, He saved me…How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” (Ps. 116:1-2, 5-6, 12, NIV84).

Victoria

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1 Robertson, A.T.. “Word Pictures in the New Testament”. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems. 1997. Luke 7:42.