Would you invite the Lord Jesus into your home — to abide with you, to eat and drink with you — and yet spurn those whom He loves and forgives and welcomes to Himself?
Would you presume to serve Jesus at your neighbor's expense?
How, then, do you look at your neighbor? How do you see him or her?
Do you see this woman?
How do you see her? What do you see? Are you scared of her, or scandalized by her sins? Are you ashamed of her, embarrassed by her life and by her lavish love for Jesus?
You are that woman.
You are the man — who deserves nothing but punishment; who ought to make restitution many times over, and yet would still deserve to die.
You are the sinner.
And the Lord has also taken your sin away. You shall not die. Nor are you cast away from His presence.
Jesus sees this woman, this man, this sinner. He knows her, who and what sort of person she is: one whom He loves, whom He graciously forgives. He allows her to draw near; indeed, He draws her by His grace, by His voice of the Gospel. He allows her to touch Him, so that, whatever her shame, He makes it His own. He bears it in His Body to the cross.
He has made Himself like her. He has made Himself like you: bearing your sin, your shame; and becoming the curse for you, that you might receive His blessing.
He is not ashamed of the woman, nor the man. He is not ashamed to be the friend of sinners; to be more than their friend, their Savior. He is not ashamed of you, to call you His sister, His brother. He loves you and has mercy upon you. He calls you and draws you near to Himself. He allows you to touch Him, to lay hold of Him in the means of grace. He places Himself into your hands, even as He takes you gently into His own.
He is the Man!
The accusing finger of the Law points at Him, and it sentences Him to die. For He has made Himself THE SINNER — with your sins, and the sins of the world — in order to save sinners.
Therefore, He dies. He makes restitution fourfold, sevenfold, seventy-sevenfold. He provides Himself as the Lamb, for rich and poor alike, in order to atone for one and all with His blood and feed them all with His flesh. He who is rich beyond all measure, has made Himself utterly poor, wretched, decrepit and despised, that you by His poverty should be made rich with the wealth and treasures of His heaven itself.
Christ Jesus becomes the sacrificial Lamb, so that she, this sinful woman from the city, becomes His dear little ewe lamb, who lives in His house with His children, who reclines at His bosom and eats and drinks at His Table, and is like a beloved daughter to Him.
She receives His mercy and compassion, and He welcomes and receives her love. He praises and acknowledges her love. He praises and acknowledges her.
Simon the Pharisee does not see her, but only her sin. That man, rich with his own self-righteousness, is not willing to sacrifice or set aside anything of his own, but he would rob this poor woman of that true righteousness of hers, which Christ praises in her, which is by His grace through faith in His Gospel.
But Christ looks at her in love and sees her, truly, bedecked and adorned in His beautiful righteousness. He does not see or look at her sins, though they are many, but He points with joy and gladness to her worship, to her faith and love.
He covers her shame with His honor. He clothes her nakedness with His own robe of righteousness and holiness, innocence and blessedness. He removes the sting and stain of her sin with His free and full forgiveness.
Understand that she is not forgiven because she loves, but she loves Christ Jesus so much because she is forgiven by His grace.
Her love for Him is the evidence of her faith, a joyous sacrifice of thanksgiving for His forgiveness. She is overwhelmed by His grace toward her, and so she is utterly overcome with sweet love for Him. So, by faith in Him as her true God and Savior, she worships Him with her whole heart of love, with her salty tears from eyes of wonder, with the very hairs of her head, with the tender kisses of her lips, and with her costly treasures of perfume. There is no gift too precious, no price so great that she would not gladly offer it with grateful adoration to this Lord God and dear Savior, Jesus. She loses herself, her shame and her fear in His Peace. She knows only her giant need and His gracious providence, her great sin and His far greater forgiveness.
Such is the true spiritual worship of faith and love, which looks to Christ Jesus for all good things, for both body and soul, for this life and the life everlasting; worship which prays, praises and gives thanks to the Lord Jesus for that which He has given and that which He has promised; worship which loves Him by serving His Body, whether in His own person or in the beloved members of His Bride, the Church.
For she is a new creation, with a new life in Christ. That is who and what and what sort of person she is. And you also are made brand new in Him. Surely, it is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you.
Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven. Christ looks at you in love, He beholds you in mercy, and He sees no sin or shame in you, but He rejoices over you. He praises the faith and love which are His own gracious gift and good work in you.
Therefore, dear one, beloved of Christ, have compassion for one another: for your brothers and sisters in Christ; for your neighbors in the world, near and far; for sinful men, women and children, from the city and the country.
Receive sinners, even into your home and at your table, as you would receive the Lord Jesus Himself. Receive them, love them and forgive them, as you are loved and forgiven, daily and richly, by the mercies of God in Christ.
And having received such mercy, support the Church and Ministry of Christ out of the means which He provides you, which is your sacred trust and stewardship, whether of much or of little. Support His Church and Ministry in faith and love, and with thanksgiving; for your own sake, and for your neighbor's sake, that you and your neighbor may continue to hear the Gospel and receive the good gifts of Christ.
In these and other ways, by works of mercy and charity, in faith and love, offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
You cannot praise and thank Him "too much" (nor can you love and serve your neighbor "too much"); you cannot pay the debt of gratitude you owe. But Christ has already paid your debt and covered your account, and every day He graciously forgives you all your debts and trespasses and sins. For He loves you much, and He forgives you as often as you fall.
You, little lamb, are a dear daughter to Him, or a beloved son. Though you tremble, do not be afraid; and though you are yet scared, do not run away or hide from Him. He sees you in love, He knows you in mercy, He calls you and welcomes you here to Himself. Lay hold of Him, as He lays hold of you. Recline here at His Table, upon His bosom, above His beating heart of love. Eat and drink within His house, with His children, His many brothers and sisters, the dear children of His own God and Father. You also are such a dear child of His.
Be at peace, little lamb, for here you are safe.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Image of God
47 minutes ago