And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
What must those words have meant to this woman? She kind of put herself out there, exposed herself to the judgment and criticism of Simon the Pharisee. She was apparently a notorious sinner, but she comes and breaks an expensive box of ointment. She weeps at Jesus’ feet. She kisses His feet as she washes them with her tears. She was willing to be exposed, to engage in this loving act of worship and repentance. It must have meant so much, then, to hear Jesus tell her she was forgiven when perhaps what she was used to before was condemnation.
We all kind of carry a tally with us. We have that list of deeds, that label of sinner, those things we’ve done that only fill our hearts with darkness and our lives with unrest. And there is no escaping that except at the feet of Jesus. But there we can bring all of that baggage to the one who sees to the deepest depths of our hearts and loves us even so. We can unburden ourselves at the feet of the one who is willing to offer us forgiveness for every single one of those sins we carry.
Even though the woman washed the feet of Jesus, she was the one truly cleansed that day as she rose up a new creature, forgiven, set free, unburdened. She got to leave there that day knowing she was no longer condemned. She was no longer shackled by the slavemaster of sin. She was no longer abiding in darkness. She was no longer destined for eternity apart from God, but she could draw nearer to the one who had healed every wound and washed away all her stains.
What do those words mean to us when we come, knowing how dirty we are, before a holy God, when we surrender those things, when we seek His mercy and He says those sweet words? To not have to carry the weight of sin any longer, to be rid of the shame of it and the guilt of it leaves us truly free indeed. Because of Jesus, we can shed that label of “sinner” and apply “forgiven” instead. And forever we can know that all of those things we mournfully brought before Jesus are gone for good. We can live set free from everything we used to be and go on our way in peace.