“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Simon the Pharisee couldn’t resist.
A woman beyond forgiveness?
As Pharisees tended to, Simon thought he knew better, even better than Jesus Christ himself. When Simon saw the woman who “lived a sinful life” was down on the ground weeping at Jesus’ feet, wiping her tears away with her hair while Christ casually reclined at the table, Simon the Pharisee took it upon himself to make sure Jesus knew he needed to stay away from that woman. Simon the Pharisee thought this woman was too sinful, too dirty, too controversial to be anywhere near Christ.
But then, as Christ does with all sinners, he reversed the status of the woman: “Do you see this woman? … her many sins have been forgiven.”
Yet, even after this declaration of forgiveness, the other guests whispered among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” The guests gathered thought this woman was too sinful to be forgiven, so sinful that they began to question the authority of Jesus himself.
In spite of all the murmuring, in spite of what seems to be the guests blatantly ignoring the teaching Jesus just offered in their presence, Jesus went further still, turned to the woman directly and proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
A man beyond forgiveness?
Kanye West and his Jesus is King album have revealed too many of us are still like Simon the Pharisee, despite all Christ has done personally for us. Too many of us grumble under our breaths about who this man is rather than shouting out in jubilation about what Christ can do.
Like Simon the Pharisee, we think we are being clever when we proudly say, “It’s just a publicity stunt.”
Like those gathered at the party, we see Kanye West say something we disagree with or think is too far afield and say to ourselves and each other: “See? I told you.”
What have you told us? Have you told us of the miraculous work of Jesus Christ? Of the saving grace only he can offer? Did you celebrate this repentance? Have you forgotten “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent?” In this case, it is Kanye West who is the one sinner.
Who is beyond forgiveness?
Perhaps, for you, it is not Kanye West whose repentance and newfound faith you meet with cynicism rather than warmth. Maybe it’s your alcoholic uncle who has declared himself for Christ, yet you still struggle to shake his past behavior from your view of him.
For others, it could be a once-distant mother who only now wants to be in your life because Christ is in hers.
Is it the wild friend from college you’re only friends with now on Facebook, whose apparent newfound faith you consider with surprise and maybe a little suspicion?
Are you beyond forgiveness?
There are so many people with so many stories of Christ turning to them and speaking the words he spoke to this woman: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
The next time you read about Kanye West or Justin Bieber, hear from your high school friend, read about an inmate on death row, or hear some story of some random sinner turning to Christ, remember: Not that long ago, that someone was you.
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Well, Simon, it’s Jesus Christ. And he’s forgiven me, just as he has forgiven Kanye West, who now joins us amongst the chorus of the repentant. Maybe one day soon, it will be the friend or family member sitting across from you at the table.
Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!
Smith Getterman is a graduate of Baylor University and Dallas Baptist University. His work has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Austin American Statesman, Faithfully Magazine, and the Baptist Standard. You can find him on Twitter @getterman or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed are those solely of the author.