Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ye Gates Lift Up Your Heads"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 7:48,50b – Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven. … Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (NIV)
One Sunday when I was driving to church, I was stopped by the police … so I thought. I saw those familiar flashing lights and pulled over. Another car pulled in behind me, followed by the cruiser. As I reached for my insurance form, the officer approached my car and said, "You're free to go, ma'am. I've got the one I want," indicating the car behind me.
Those words, "You're free to go", felt exhilarating! After all, for a moment, I had experienced the law of the land bearing down on me through the authority of that law enforcer. I had been held captive by the law — not through my actions, but through the officer's authority. For a moment, I was not free.
Surely, that was a God-designed episode. Shortly, I would be preaching about a woman who heard the same message: "You're free to go, ma'am!" She was the sinful woman who had poured perfume on Jesus' feet during dinner. Jesus released her from the grip of a law that condemned her, and she was grateful. Her newfound freedom came not through her actions, but through the One vested with authority to forgive: God, the One who holds ultimate authority over the laws of the universe.
At the dinner event, however, not everyone realized that Jesus was God's Son and thereby had authority to convict or release whom He wished. The host, Simon the Pharisee, saw himself in that role: God's appointed law enforcer. So, when he spotted the woman with Jesus, he was quick to engage his flashing lights to pull her over. Jesus quickly intervened, declaring to her, "You're free to go, ma'am. I've got the one I want." Simon was the one on the radar.
Jesus had flipped the roles. Simon was pulled over while she drove off. Jesus was now the law enforcer holding Simon in the grip of the law. This Bible story ends with Simon cast as the sinner and the woman as the righteous one. Isn't that just like Jesus — to flip the roles that we designate for each other? "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:16 NIV)
Oh, how we crave to identify ourselves as righteous, on the right side of moral truth. But that doesn't get us far on the road of faith. Thankfully, Christ's Spirit pulls us over and convicts us as needed. Perhaps, it's our self-centredness or ingratitude, or our assuming the lofty position of moral judge. Jesus doesn't spare us from the discomfort of conviction and hurt pride. He is helping us to see ourselves more truthfully — as sinners in need of His grace and forgiveness — so that we, too, may hear those exhilarating, liberating words: "You're free to go!"
Prayer: O Lord, give us the humble courage to submit to You whenever You pull us over, that we may experience the joy of Your freeing grace. Amen.