Draw us unto thee, thou merciful friend of sinners. Amen.

Luke 7. 36-50. And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment. and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet. would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner. And Jesus, answering, said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty: And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said. I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves. Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman. Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.

He who takes offence because Jesus receives sinners is still a stranger to the Savior’s way of thinking. Nothing pleases the Lord more than to dry the tears of penitent sinners. The distress of sinners is his distress; their pain is his pain. Let the afflicted hear and keep this truth, and pay no heed to the voice of the devil, which seeks to entice and frighten him away from the Lord. When nothing has power to keep the sinner away from Jesus; when his own need drives, and the Lord’s goodness draws him, and causes him to come and kiss the Savior’s feet: — then it is exactly as it should be. The woman who was diseased with an issue of blood did precisely the right thing when, in spite of the trepidation of her heart, she pushed her way through the throng of people, and touched the hem of the Savior’s garment. It was entirely proper of Zacchaeus to surmount every obstacle, in order that he might see Jesus. The Lord was exceedingly well pleased when the woman of Canaan persisted in crying out to him: “Lord, help me!” It is a beautiful thing in the sight of the Lord that this sinful woman in our text takes heart to enter the Pharisee’s house, wash the feet of Jesus with her tears, wipe them with the hair of her head, kiss them, and anoint them with ointment. The merciful heart of the blessed and holy Savior is stirred with tender love, which comforts and heals the woman’s soul. There is no joy equal to the joy of Jesus over the salvation of a sinner. He who in his time of need by reason of his sins has learned to know this love, which brings salvation, and who experiences this love every day, is not offended because of the Lord’s mercy toward other lost sinners; but worships it, and loves more and more on account of the many sins which have been forgiven him and others.

We bless thee, Lord Jesus, for thy great mercy, which takes away all our sins. May it fill our souls with holy joy, and cause us to be glad together like children on account of thy love for sinners. Grant that by thy Holy Spirit I also may hear thee sav to me: “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Amen.

Jesus sinners doth receive!
Let the lost and sorrowing hear it;
Though in sin and shame they grieve.
And Jehovah’s anger merit,
Here’s what can their woe relieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

(variation of TLH 324, “Jesus Sinners Doth Receive”; source uncertain; tune here)

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