Forgiveness ‘Explained’ Luke 7:36-50

03 Nov

But he who has been forgiven little loves little.

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV) One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37  And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38  and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39  Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

40  And Jesus answering said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41  “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

44  Then 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 from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

 47  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. 48  And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49  Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Those who know the Greek language tell us that Jesus had been with her previously to her coming into this house, and what took place then brought out this response in the house. Your sins “go on” being forgiven, he told her. We’re not surprised by her response, are we? When our sins are forgiven, again and again, don’t we celebrate at the highest level?

Jesus was making the point that, if we are not each aware of how great our own sin debt to God is in His eyes, we will not have a proper degree of love and gratitude to God for the mercy that He has shown us in making forgiveness of that debt possible for Jesus’ sake.

We will also not show the proper love and forgiveness toward our neighbors, because we will think of ourselves as being better than they are, rather than as being just as much in need of God’s grace and mercy ourselves as they are.

 News announcement on a few years back: COOKEVILLE, Tenn.  – Funeral arrangements for Mrs. Nancy Stout have been finalized, following her tragic death on Sunday, May 2, at the Jefferson Avenue congregation in Cookeville, Tenn. Sister Stout, 65, was killed in the church parking lot after being hit by the car of fellow member, Paul Wright, 82. How difficult do you think this made attending that congregation between the Stout family and the Wright family?

When missionaries first came to Labrador, they found no word for forgiveness in the Eskimo language.  So they had to make one which meant, “not being able to think about it anymore.”

What exactly is forgiveness? According to Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., ” … Forgiveness consists primarily of taking less personal offense, reducing anger and the blaming of the offender, and developing increased understanding of situations that often lead to feeling hurt and angry.”

Thomas Merton: We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven. Therefore, we should be glad that we can be forgiven by others. It is our forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus manifest in our lives, for in forgiving one another we act towards one another as He has acted towards us.

 Some Pictures of Forgiveness

Removing offense far, far away from us (Ps 103:12)

(Psalm 103:12 NIV)  “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

  Putting offenses behind our backs (Isa. 38:17)

(Isa 38:17 NIV)  “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

 Blotting out what was done  (Isa. 43:25; Psalm 51:1, 9)

(Isa 43:25 NIV)  “”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

 (Psa 51:1 NIV)  ” Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

  Casting the offense in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19)

(Micah 7:19 NIV)  “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

As Luskin points out, holding on to anger over past hurts is counterproductive. “All the huffing and puffing and groaning and moaning you might do isn’t going to make somebody love you more or be fairer or kinder to you,” Luskin said. “It’s a poor strategy that people don’t give up easily, but it is something that can be learned.”

 (Mat 18:32 NIV)  “”Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,‘ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.”

(Mat 18:34-35 NIV)  “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

There might be marriages in our congregations that are going to disintegrate unless someone finds a way to forgive. There are families that will collapse, unless someone finds a way to forgive.  There are friendships that will unravel, unless someone decides to forgive. There are groups that will split, unless someone forgives.

The bitterness & resentment we feel will also alienate us & cut us off from others. It will make us suspicious & fearful of relationships. It will isolate us. Unforgiveness destroys community. Churches ought to be a no-debt zone, but it’s not always so.

(Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV)  “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. {15} See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Marianne Williamson: Forgiveness does not mean that we suppress anger; forgiveness means that we have asked for a miracle:  the ability to see through mistakes that someone has made to the truth that lies in all of our hearts.

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Attack thoughts towards others are attack thoughts towards ourselves. The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.

Benefit of Forgiveness #1: It heals a wound in your heart.

Things in our lives can certainly leave scars. When you experience a deep hurt, forgiveness is what heals that wound.

Benefit of Forgiveness #2: It Brings You Peace

When we forgive someone, it may feel like we are doing it for them. By holding on to that hurt that you just can’t let go of, it may feel like you are getting revenge and hurting them back. But the person that you are forgiving may never know that you are still thinking of how they wronged you. The person that is hurting the most is you.

Benefit of Forgiveness #3: It Helps Your Other Relationships

It’s hard to have other good healthy relationships with you are holding a grudge or walking around with bitterness in your heart. Those things poison our other relationships. Not forgiving plants a seed of doubt in our loved ones’ minds of “What if I ever mess up so badly that they never forgive me?”

When you forgive others it helps you love people better, especially those close to you. That’s a huge benefit of forgiveness!

Benefit of Forgiveness #4: It Stops Victimhood Mentality

When someone has wronged you, it’s easy to think that they destroyed your life. You might even think that they ruined your entire future and you’ll never be happy with your life. That’s a lot of pain to live with.

When you forgive someone you take back control of your life. You acknowledge the hurt and the results of what happened, but you also give yourself permission and the freedom to move on. You move from the position of being bounce around in the back of a covered wagon to sitting in the driver’s seat and holding the reins. It puts you back in charge of your own life.

Benefit of Forgiveness #5: Improved Mental Health

As you can imagine, improved mental health is a huge benefit of forgiveness. When we forgive someone, we also let go of guilt towards ourselves. We no longer let bitterness and anger poison our other relationships and that space can be filled with love instead.

Benefit of Forgiveness #6: Stress Reduction

Stress causes physical symptoms in our bodies, none of which are good long-term.

Benefit of Forgiveness #7: Sets a Good Example for Others

 His Mercy is More by Matt Papa

Verse 1: What love could remember, no wrongs we have done Omniscient, all-knowing, He counts not their sum

Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

 Verse 2: What patience would wait as we constantly roam What Father so tender is calling us home

He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

 Verse 3: What riches of kindness He lavished on us His blood was the payment His life was the cost

We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

Chorus: Praise the Lord His mercy is more Stronger than darkness New every morn’ Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

Two items on my desk for decades:





God is gracious & willing to forgive, but we do need to know that forgiveness is not automatic. Forgiveness is in Christ. If you’re not in Christ or if you’re not sure you’re in Christ…pursue the answer to that dilemma. Let those in this congregation help you in that pursuit.



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Posted by on November 3, 2022 in Forgiveness


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