The next fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is PEACE. Peace of mind or peace between individuals. This passage in Luke 7:36-50 both puzzles and astounds me.
In this passage, you find "A Sinful Woman Forgiven." That's how my Bible titles this story. You find a woman who hears that Jesus is at a Pharisee's house and she comes right on into his house, she wets his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and then proceeds to kiss his feet. In our culture, maybe also in theirs, it strikes a person really oddly. Of all things, why wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair? And of all the places to kiss Jesus (cheek or hand), she chose the feet. Feet that were dirty (consider sandals and what a culture without automobiles might be walking in). My germy aversion screams at me, "no amount of tears can disinfect that!!"
But this story isn't in the Bible to have us pointing out the odd and ew factors. In fact, I believe it's in the Bible to teach us a few things.
The first thing I notice is the first action on the part of this woman. I don't know what prompted her to go inside a house where she wouldn't be welcome. What would make her, a woman that Jesus says has many sins (vs 47), walk boldly into a home where the owner doesn't hesitate to remind her of her sins. Whether she heard him or not, people can make you feel pretty small with just their attitude. She probably didn't have to think too hard about what he was thinking.
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What prompted this woman to go in search of Jesus, to begin with? She doesn't even say a word in this passage and therefore doesn't even answer this question for us. Why did she weep? What was she searching for when she knelt down at Jesus' feet? Maybe she didn't want to be known as a "sinner." Maybe she was searching and looking for forgiveness. Maybe she recognized Jesus for who he truly was, the Messiah. Maybe seeing the Messiah interact with humanity overwhelmed her heart in such a way, that all her heart's content would do is pour out love for Jesus.
The next thing I notice is the attitude of Simon, the Pharisee. He says to himself, "If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Verse 39) Have you ever noticed how the attitudes of other people can sometimes affect your peace and your peace of mind? Jesus, knowing what Simon is saying to himself, speaks up and makes His own opinion known about this woman. When the attitude of other people threatens to distract me from Jesus, He does have something to say about it. Am I listening to and for Him and His opinion about me?
To the woman, Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven... Your faith has saved you; go in peace." In light of our definition of peace of mind and peace between individuals. I can't help but notice that Jesus FORGAVE this woman. He wiped that slate clean. By forgiving this woman, He made way for a right (harmonious) relationship between Him and her. When Jesus looks at me and says, "Your sins are forgiven" He is saying that my sins have been cast as far apart as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He is saying that He's buried my sins in the depth of the sea (Micah 7:18-20). He is saying that He no longer remembers my sin (Isaiah 43:25). By forgiving my sin, He closes the divide between me and Him. He makes way for a harmonious relationship, not one of guilt and shame.
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A harmonious relationship with my Savior. Let that one settle in your heart for a moment. Let that sink in. That's peace with the Prince of Peace. A harmonious relationship with my Savior is the ultimate form of peace.
Jesus, I am so thankful for Your sacrifice on the cross. I'm thankful that You freely and willingly forgive me of my sin and allow me to experience this ultimate form of peace, a harmonious relationship with You. I'm so thankful that you are quick to forgive me and that You waste no time in closing the gap in our relationship. I pray that I can rest in confidence in Your forgiveness. I pray that I don't dwell on my guilt and shame, but that I stand on the confidence of Your forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen.