The Joy of Forgiveness
David said, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
David is pointing to special people who are acceptable to GOD, and they are those whose sins will be forgiven. In the time of Jesus we are told about two people who at first did not appear to have anything in common with him, but were in such a frame of mind that Jesus could change them. These two came to Jesus and were able to be moulded into the right shape. They listened to Jesus.
The first was Zacchaeus, one of the chief of the publicans (Luke 19). The words ‘publicans’ and ‘sinners’ were synonymous, but this man went to great lengths in order to see Jesus. We see him climbing a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of this man. Jesus saw in this man, Zacchaeus, the right type of material that he was looking for. He did not despise him. He did not walk away from him, but said that he would allow himself to be entertained by him that day. He ignored the hundreds of people who followed him that day to convert just one, the most despised of the Jewish race, a publican, a tax gatherer. And when the people saw it they all murmured saying that he was going to be the guest of a man that was a sinner. Jesus knew exactly what he was doing and he gained the heart of Zacchaeus.
And now we see one of the Pharisees (Luke 7:35) inviting Jesus into his house. Jesus went and sat down to eat. It was not however, the Pharisee that sought forgiveness. “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” She knew that she was a sinner and that she was regarded as such by those around her. She had not been invited, yet she entered and humiliated herself in the presence of the self-righteous Simon the Pharisee. Yet in that room she saw only one person. She washed and wiped the feet of that one person, and her humility and love were for him alone. When we read about this incident we can feel the intensity of this emotional meeting with the Son of GOD. We see the disgust of Simon – “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what manner of woman this was that touched him.” Simon recoiled from the fact that she even touched Jesus. But Jesus, who came to save sinners, knew what was in her heart.
Let us now look at Zacchaeus for a moment. He did not cry, but when Jesus deliberately spoke to him, he made haste to come down and received him joyfully. This was his emotional reaction to the call of Jesus. Jesus did not speak to the crowd, but just to him. Before Jesus had time to speak to Zacchaeus, he said, “Behold Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” In that crowd that thronged Jesus he saw only one person. That person did not want Jesus for the loaves and the fishes, he wanted the way of salvation and Jesus knew that he was genuine. Jesus knew that both the woman in the Pharisee’s house and Zacchaeus truly did seek forgiveness of their sins and truly were about to start a new life. Jesus ignored all others to help these two sinners. He did not make a big issue of it. To the woman he said, Thy sins are forgiven.Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” And to Zacchaeus he said, “This day is salvation come to this house.”
There were hundreds who came to hear Jesus but were not moved in their hearts to acknowledge their sins. There was no deep desire to please GOD. They did not seem to realize the importance of the message of Jesus – “Repent and be baptised.” They did not have the desire to seek Jesus as did that woman and that man Zacchaeus. These two went out of their way to acknowledge their sins before him. They knew that Jesus had the authority to forgive them – to bless them. They submitted to him – humility, honesty, joy and love poured out and the reward was forgiveness; godly righteousness first and then forgiveness.
Sis Savanah Nuwagaba (Mbarara, Uganda)