The Scandal of Grace

I cam across a song the other day that I just keep wanting to listen to over and over again.  The song is I Shall Be Healed by Michael McDermott (see below).  It’s the words to his song, especially the second verse, that have my attention.  The second verse goes:

Yeah my mother and my father, yeah they always believed; yeah but me I felt different, I always felt so deceived.  I went looking uptown, went looking downtown too; I even went to the west side, I went looking for you.  So one day in South Carolina, I saw you in a cotton field.

…Say the word, just say the word, just say the word, and I shall be healed.

When I heard these words I wondered how many people are sitting in some church gathering on Sunday just wanting God to say the word.

Sin is a terrible thing.  It has consequences that leaves renders lost and in need of salvation.  Besides our relationship with God, it effects the relationship we have with others.  But another damaging outcome of sin it the hopeless despair it breeds.

Then there is the story of the sinful woman in Luke 7.  What do we do with it?  The woman had long hair which suggests she was a sexually immoral woman, perhaps a prostitute.  There’s probably no sin as scandalous as sexual sin and I’m sure that woman knew something about the scandal of such sin, as she heard Simon the Pharisee raise his voice.  Likely she had met plenty of Simon’s in her life.  You know, the kind of people who judged her.  The kind of people who’s smugness said with little words, if any at all, that she was unwanted, unredeemable, and beyond dignity.

But there reclining at the table in Simon’s house was Jesus.  With tears rolling down her face, this woman who had lived a sinful life met Jesus.  And lo and behold, rather than rebuking this woman or scolding her for her sins, Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 48).

But before Jesus left this woman he had these words to say as well, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v. 50).  Is that really possible?  Is it really that simple?  Could God’s grace really be just a matter of faith?

Jesus certainly says so to this woman.  But that seems so hard for us to believe sometimes.  Why?  Could it be so hard to believe because we tend to believe God will judge as we judge?  If so, we have more in common with Simon than we probably want to admit.

Perhaps the hardest thing to believe about God’s grace is that God does not judge us the way we judge others.  But because we assume God will judge us the way we judge others, it becomes all the more difficult to believe that the wretched sinners we know ourselves to be can be redeemed by God through Jesus Christ, our Lord (cf. Rom 8:24-25).  So we wonder, as we ponder our own sin, will God really save us.

And so we wait for God to say a word… a word so that we too shall be healed, that word that says we will be saved from the disease of hopeless despair that sin breeds.  But God has spoken that word to us and that word is “Christ!”  And God’s word here says that we are justified, that there is no condemnation in Christ because in Christ we are more than conquerors!

Can we believe that?  Can we have faith that God, who deeply loves us, offers us this word of grace?

Jesus said,, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

3 responses to “The Scandal of Grace

  1. Can you explain how long hair identifies a Jewish woman as a prostitute in the first century? I’d never heard of that before.

    • From recollection of what I have studied, women of moral character in the Jewish community would have had their head covered in public and in the presence of men. So it’s not that she has long hair per se but that her hair is uncovered in the presence of Simon, Jesus, and whatever other men may be in Simon’s house, suggesting that she was a sexually immoral woman (perhaps a prostitute but that is a little more uncertain).

  2. Pingback: Cultivating People of Grace | Kingdom Seeking

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