The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Go In Peace
(Proper 6) The Third Sunday after Pentecost
13 June 2007 (Sunday Before Father's Day)
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
"Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."
To paraphrase, Jesus said, "The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins." You may have heard me say that before. "Peace T be with you" is what the newly baptized hear after they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. "Depart T in peace" is the blessing you hear as you are about to leave the Lord's Table, having received the Body and Blood of your Lord for the forgiveness of your sins. At Divine Service, and a funeral, we sing or say "Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace…" It is the forgiveness of sins that makes heaven possible for all of us. "Go in peace" are Jesus' words to a sinner in need of forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins—just ask King David. Forgiveness means peace with God in Christ. "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and T give you peace." "Peace" is the final word you hear proclaimed by the Lord's servant before the final hymn.
36One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37And 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, 38and 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. 39Now 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." 40And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."
Jesus will share a parable with this Pharisee named Simon. We know little about him, but we do know that he doubted whether Jesus was even a prophet because of this woman. We also know that he felt superior to the sinner at Jesus' feet. And, it is likely that he didn't consider his sins to be that serious. Jesus reminds him how dangerously important our debt of sin really is.
41"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Simon can decipher the parable. Can he apply it to himself? Did he even see the need to apply it to himself?
44Then 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. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
We hear no more about this Simon the Pharisee by name. It is perhaps obvious he understood the difference between the salary for 50 days versus that for 500 days. His response to Jesus' words and deeds is not recorded for us in the Bible. Not only does Jesus teach us that the forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins, he also reminds us that he who is forgiven little, loves little. And that hits us too close to home. Love is not merely a thought or a feeling. Love is a verb, beyond mere words and thoughts. True love is always an action, a sacrifice of self for the sake of another.
Christians are not better than non-Christians. That mindset would only make us hypocrites. As human beings, we tend to think of some sins as greater than others. To put it another way, we consider our own sins to be less serious, less shameful, less damning than the sins of other people. In this world, there may be fewer consequences for some sins rather than others, but in God's eyes, by His standard, all sins are equally sins and even one sin deserves eternal punishment.
Christians are not better than non-Christians. The real difference between believers and non-believers is that we have faith in Christ and are forgiven by Him. That's what really matters. Unfaith has neither of these blessings. That's what we want for the unbelievers we know and love—that they would come to faith in Christ and have His forgiveness, His peace.
8:1Soon afterward he [Jesus] went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
By this point, many of you may think that this is an odd text for the Sunday before Father's Day. And it is, especially because the women outshine the men at the end of Luke 7 and beginning of Luke 8. The women provide for Jesus and the twelve. They provide for them out of their means, from what the Lord has provided to them for their needs and also for the Lord's work. They care for the Lord's messengers for the sake of the Lord's message.
It is a message of the good news of the kingdom of God. It is a message of peace with God and forgiveness through Christ. Faith accompanied miracles: women had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. The wife of King Herod's own household manager was among these women following Jesus. Joanna's means may have been very significant.
Yes this is an odd text leading into Father's Day next weekend, for the women outshine the men in this text. They have sat at Jesus' feet, gladly hearing the Word of the Lord, joyfully giving and serving. The unnamed woman of Luke 7 worshiped at Jesus' feet. Fathers, consider this text a counter-example, where men fail to believe in the One God has sent, where the men don't "get it" and the women do by faith . Thank the Lord for faithful women who turn the men in their lives to the Lord.
But this text was not chosen for today because it is nearing Father's Day. No. It was provided for us by the Three-Year lectionary because today is a Sunday that falls between June 12 and June 18. You will hear these three readings three years from now on the Sunday that falls between June 12th and 18th.
We do thank God this coming week and every day for our fathers, especially Christian fathers who carry out their Christian vocation as spiritual head of household by bringing their families to church, leading family devotions, praying with wife and children, living the Christian faith at home, and talking about spiritual things with their families throughout the week. Fathers are fed at Bible Class and Divine Service so that they can remain strong and so they can feed others.
The head of household is to provide for his family's further instruction in the faith at home, and through Sunday School, VBS, and catechism instruction. He is given to teach the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, as well as Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. Christian fathers are also instructed to not provoke their children to anger, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We thank the Lord for men like Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was the guardian and protector of the young Jesus.
We also thank the Lord for all the faithful men who serve as fathers in the faith, even if they have no children of their own—or at least no little ones at home. We thank God for their faithfulness to the Lord. The focus this morning remains on Christ, as it well next Sunday even on Father's Day, just as Christ is the focus of Christian worship on Mother's Day, the Fourth of July, a wedding, a funeral, or any worship service in the church. That is but another way we remain faithful to the Lord.
Jesus said, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."
It is the forgiveness of sins that makes heaven possible for all of us. "Go in peace" are Jesus' words to you, a sinner in need of forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins. Forgiveness means peace with God in Christ and peace among one another. Depart T in His Peace. Amen.
In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.