Great Forgiveness and Great Love

Christ at Simon the Pharisee

Christ at Simon the Pharisee (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 7:36–50 (ESV)

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at 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.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus went to a Pharisee’s home to eat with him. While there, a “woman of the city, a sinner” arrives and wept at Jesus’ feet, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with oil. This was a great show of love and honor by the woman. The problem, as expressed by the Pharisee, is the woman was a known prostitute! Why would Jesus allow such a woman to touch him? If he were really a prophet he would not allow such a sinner to come near him, right?

No so! Jesus responds to the Pharisee with a parable about a moneylender. He loaned two people money and forgave both of their debts. One had borrowed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. Who would love the moneylender more? Who would be the most thankful?  Well, of course it would be the one whose debt had been greater.

Jesus used the parable to speak of the woman prostitute’s and the Pharisee’s attitude towards Jesus. The woman knew her sin was great and that the forgiveness she had been granted through Jesus was great. She loved Jesus greatly. On the other hand, the Pharisee did not believe he needed forgiveness because he was already righteous on his own. He did not need Jesus and did not feel deep gratitude towards him.

When we are able to see our sinfulness and honestly admit the deep debt we owe as a result, our love for Christ will grow. Such understanding helps us better understand the great love Christ has shown for us by going to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Think of John 3:16 and what it means about God’s love:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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Authority to Forgive Sins

The Man Let Down through the Roof

The Man Let Down through the Roof (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 2:1–12 (ESV)

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word got out that he was home. Many showed up to see and hear him. One group went taking a man who was paralyzed. They wanted Jesus to heal him. When they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they made a hole through the roof and lowered the man down to Jesus. They would not be stopped!

The determination of these men was a reflection of their faith in Jesus. When Jesus saw this, he declared, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This proclamation did not sit well with the scribes, who were also in attendance. They wondered how Jesus could claim to forgive sins. After all, only God had that authority! So to address their questions, Jesus performed a miracle to show he had the authority to forgive sins. He told the paralytic to “rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And the man did so.

Jesus’ miracle showed that his words of forgiveness were not just words, but were backed with authority and power. Jesus would tell the people that they too could have their sins forgiven and be reconciled to God. All they had to do was trust in him. All who would believe Jesus and trust in him would find forgiveness and eternal life. Later, Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for sin and then rose from the dead victorious over sin and death, once again proving that he had all power and authority to do all that he had said.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Prepare the Way of the Lord

the voice in the desert

The Voice in the Desert (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’ ”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:19–23 (ESV)

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6 

Understanding and Applying the Word

The prophets Malachi and Isaiah had spoken of one who would appear before the Messiah to prepare his way (cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3). He would be one who would prepare the hearts of the people and he would come in the spirit of Elijah. The Gospel writers quote from Isaiah to tell us that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning this one who would prepare the way of the Lord. And the description of John’s clothing and food reminds us of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8.

John the Baptist’s message was one of repentance. The Messiah was coming and the people needed to prepare for him. To “repent” means to turn from sin, which the Bible tells us is what separates us from our holy Creator. It is only through repentance and forgiveness that we find in Christ that we are able to come into a right relationship with the Lord. Let us prepare ourselves by turning from our sin and calling out to Jesus to forgive us so that we can stand before him, not as enemies, but as reconciled friends.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity is a wonderful thing. When the people of God are working together, it is pleasant and brings great pleasure. The psalmist uses two images to illustrate the goodness of unity. It is like the precious oil used to anoint a priest that runs down from his head to his beard and to his robe. The oil spreads over the entire person. It is also like the dew running off of Mount Herman, the highest peak in Israel, and onto Zion. Zion is a dusty and much smaller mountain, but it is where the temple sits. The dew from Mount Herman gives refreshing moisture to dry Zion.

If you have ever been in a church where unity is not present among God’s people, you may have a good understanding of this psalm. Without unity, the people of God cannot prosper and thrive. It takes unity to allow the body of Christ to function as it ought to and accomplish what it is designed to. This is why there is such a great emphasis throughout the New Testament on this vital issue. We are called to love one another, forgive one another, and live in unity as we serve and build one another up. May we dwell in unity and experience its great pleasures.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

More than Watchmen for the Morning

Psalm 1306 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please take the time to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 130:1–8 (ESV)

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Great Peace

Psalm 119165 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:161–168 (ESV)

161 Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. 162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. 164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. 166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. 167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. 168 I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 focuses on the supreme value of God’s law. For 176 verses, the psalm states over and over again how wonderful the word of God is and why this is so. In our passage for today, in verse 165, we are told that God’s word brings “great peace.” Even in the face of persecution and falsehood, the psalmist finds peace. Peace is certainly something that we all desire. However, we usually think of world peace (i.e. the end of war and conflict) when we contemplate it. Such peace would be wonderful, but there is an even greater peace that we need.

Our greatest need is peace with God. Our sin sets us apart from him. While we are in our sin, we are in rebellion against God and his holy commands and we are justly under condemnation. One day we will stand before him and he is the righteous Judge who punishes all sin. We need to know how we can make peace with God.

Thankfully, God has told us in his word that there is a way to be reconciled. God stands ready to forgive our sin when we repent and turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior. Through Jesus, who suffered and died, our sins were paid for as he took the punishment we deserve on himself. In Christ, we find forgiveness and we find peace with God. Romans 5:1 reads: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is through God’s word that we learn that peace with God is available through Jesus Christ. That is the greatest peace of all.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

As Far as the East Is from the West

Psalm 10312 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:6–12 (ESV)

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. This is good news because it means that he does not give us what we deserve, which is his unrelenting wrath. We have all sinned against God through our rebellion and disobedience, but God is a God who forgives our sin and removes it from us “as far as the east is from the west.” It is completely and finally forgiven!

The most amazing thing about God is his love for us. Even though we are sinners, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to make atonement for our sins. He went to the cross at Calvary to die as a sacrifice. It was through Jesus’ death that our sins were paid for and forgiven. Why did God provide such a sacrifice? Because he is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Let us praise him for all he has done!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

A God Merciful and Gracious

woman looking at sunset

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 86:14–17 (ESV)

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is under attack by men that he calls “insolent” and “ruthless”. Yet, in his prayer, David calls out to God to show him mercy and grace based on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. He does not plead with God based on his personal merit or righteousness. His prayer shows that he is willing to admit that he may share some of the blame in the circumstances.

We can learn much from David. Often times, when we feel as though we are being mistreated we need to stop and self-examine. We need to be willing to admit that we may have at least contributed in some way to our circumstances. When we pray to God for deliverance, let us also pray for forgiveness and grace. Then let us praise him for his love and faithfulness toward us.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Restore Us!

caution dead end post safety

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 80:14–19 (ESV)

14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The phrase “turn again” in verse 14 is translated from the same Hebrew word in verses 3, 7, and 19. In those verse, the word is translated “restore”. The idea is to “turn us again.” This is the central theme of the psalm. Israel once occupied a place at the right hand of God, but had fallen as a result of sin. Now the people are calling out for mercy and restoration.

Reading this psalm reminds us of the Messiah who is the true Son who sits at the right hand of the Father. Through him, we find the salvation and life that we are longing for. It is through Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven and that we find restoration with God.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Restore Us, O God!

Psalm 803 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 80:1–7 (ESV)

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The theme of this psalm is captured in the repetition of the words “Restore us, O God; let your face shine that we may be saved.” The psalmist understands the circumstances facing Israel to be punishment for their sins and now he is crying out for restoration.

Restoration is the heart of the story of Scripture. In the beginning, God created all things, including mankind, and we are told that he looked upon his creation and pronounced it “good”. However, mankind sins against their Creator through disobedience and all of creation suffers as a result. Evil and sin and death entered into the good creation. The resulting circumstances seemed to be hopeless because of mankind’s sinfulness, but God provided a way for us to be saved. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to suffer and die in our place so that we could have life. God made a way that we could be restored. All who acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ will be saved. Will you call out to God for restoration today?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!