A Bible story just for me: Guilt

A Bible story just for me: Guilt

Using Bible stories to examine characteristics of God that we never thought about, characteristics that apply to what we’re facing right now.

You are not what you have done

She stood in the doorway with the alabaster jar of perfume. The guilt of how she paid for that jar of perfume haunted her steps. Then, couple that with the fear of what she planned to do with it. How would he react? Would he cast her out like so many others had before? This was a preconceived plan, but the outcome was anything but planned. He had shown love to outcasts in the past. But did he have enough compassion for her? Did he know who she was and what she had done? At this point—in her mind—the two had become inseparable . . . she WAS what she HAD DONE.

Filled with guilt

For just one moment, I’d like you to think like her.

Read Luke 7:36-50, especially considering everything that had occurred between verses 37 and 38.

What are you thinking as you head to the house of the Pharisee? What’s driving you to bring this alabaster jar to the house? Knowing that Jesus is there, what are you hoping to hear from him? What’s the best-case scenario? What’s the worst-case scenario?

Can you feel what she must have felt? Can you feel the daggers staring you down . . . the judging eyes that say, “What is she doing here?” Can you feel those judging eyes that are causing you to ask the same question of yourself, “What am I doing here?”

Guilt has a way of showing itself. It comes in many forms: anger, fear, anxiety, gut pains, seclusion, and everything in between. This woman’s guilt was real because she was a sinner. She knew it and so many were likely to remind her of it. But what would Jesus say? What would Jesus do?

Set free to live

She made it to his feet and what did he say? Nothing! He didn’t cast her out. He didn’t reject her. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping. The only person in the room that mattered saw her sorrow, her regret, her guilt. Her actions cried out, “Lord, have mercy.”

Can you find Jesus’ first words to the woman? After sharing a simple parable with Simon, he finally speaks to her in verse 48: “Your sins are forgiven.” That’s all she wanted. That’s all she needed. That’s everything. She wasn’t forgiven because of her alabaster jar. She was forgiven because of who Jesus is.

She came to him a broken sinner. He forgave her. He set her free to live without the burden of sin and guilt weighing her down. Would others still judge her? Maybe. Would she still struggle with the days where she wishes she hadn’t done what she had done? Maybe. But here’s the reality. She’s free!

And through Christ, so are you. You are not what you have done! You are a beloved child of God through faith in him.

So bring your guilt to Jesus. Confess your sins and guilt and then listen for those most comforting words: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”

As you consider Jesus’ grace for this sinful woman and for you,

Complete this sentence:

This account shows me that Jesus has _____________ FOR ME.

May this be a reminder to you of the reality of your complete Savior.


Extra content:

Greg Lyon provides some additional thoughts for the above Bible study.

What are you thinking as you head to the house of the Pharisee? What’s driving you to bring this alabaster jar to the house? Knowing that Jesus is there, what are you hoping to hear from him? What’s the best-case scenario? What’s the worst-case scenario?

Consider these questions in light of how people often try to deal with guilt. “Maybe if I do something to make up for it, God will be happy with me and forgive me.” “I don’t know what God will say to me, but it can’t be worse than what I say to myself. . . . I’ve got nothing to lose.”

The best-case scenario is that Jesus would forgive her. The worst-case scenario is that the last chance for grace is gone and there’s no hope.

Isn’t it interesting how often we turn to God as a last resort rather than a primary source of peace and comfort?

Can you find Jesus’ first words to the woman?

While “Your sins are forgiven” are the first words that Jesus said to the woman (v. 48), consider how much he said to her while talking to Simon. Notice the nonverbals in verse 44: “He turned toward the woman and said to Simon.” In condemning Simon, the woman was receiving the acceptance of Jesus. But obviously, the words he spoke made all the difference.

She wasn’t forgiven because of her alabaster jar. She was forgiven because of who Jesus is.

Don’t be thrown off by verse 50. The woman was not saved because of the greatness of her faith but because of the object of her faith. It is the object (Christ) that makes the difference, not the depth or size of faith.

Author: Gregory C. Lyon
Volume 107, Number 06
Issue: June 2020

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