Luke 7:28-50: Truly understanding repentance and forgiveness

Those baptized by the Messiah’s messenger, Yokhanan (John), and the woman who washed Yeshua’s feet understood repentance — turning back from a life in rebellion against God — and forgiveness — God’s removing the stain of guilt on a person for that rebellion — better than the those supposed to be in charge of teaching Israel about God.

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In Luke 3, Yokhanan said that his baptism was a “baptism for the forgiveness of sin” (Luke 3:3). Repentance involves a change in one’s thinking and behavior that involves confession, or an admission of guilt. It also means accepting that punishment is warranted and the cleansing or removing guilt.

The Greek word for repentance is μετάνοια metanoia (G3341), which is a change of mind. Is comes from μετανοέω metanoeo (G3340), which is made up of μετά meta (G3326) for change and νοέω noeo (G3539) for perception or thought

This word in Hebrew for repentance is שׁוּבָה shuva (H772)a returning, retiring or withdrawal. Only one TaNaKh (Hebrew scriptures) passage uses this particular word (Isa. 30:15). God warned the people they couldn’t run away from Him, and their only salvation is if they shuva, or return to Him. 

The Hebrew word תְּשׁוּבָה teshuva (H8666) is only used once in the TaNaKh. It’s not in reference to religious returning but in regards to kings returning to battle. It’s more commonly found in the Dead Sea Scrolls as ברית תשובה b’rit teshuvah, or a covenant of turning back, i.e., dedication to returning to God. 

Continuing the theme of contrasting those with newfound faith vs. those with aging faith earlier in Luke 7, we see Yeshua contrast two different “hearts” of people. The tax collectors and “sinner” understood their condition. They deserved the wrath of God and they responded by turning to God and being baptized under John. The other group, the scribes and Pharisees refused to see their condition and be baptized by John and refused to change their minds and hearts. 

Pharisees worked hard physically to separate themselves from sin, but the ones referred to in Luke 7 didn’t understand the degree of God’s condemnation of sin. They didn’t have a heart felt sorrow for sin the way the tax collectors and “sinners” had. Yeshua says that they rejected God’s message through Yokhanan because to accept his message would be to acknowledge that their actions were not enough to remove sin from themselves. 

The Pharisees didn’t understand that they were dead. The tax collectors did. The Pharisees didn’t understand they joy of repentance experienced by the tax collectors so they looked down their noses on the repentance experience of the tax collectors and sinners. 

There was one Pharisee in particular who was curious about Yeshua. A Pharisee named Shimon invited Yeshua and His disciples to a meal. A woman, who is called a “sinner” is recorded as having interrupted the meal by bringing in an expensive flask of perfume and anointed Yeshua’s feet with it. Yeshua was criticized for accepting the woman’s gift, but Yeshua explains the reasons the woman gave such a gift: she had been forgiven of her many sins.  Variations on this story are recorded in all four Gospels. The Pharisees didn’t understand because they believed rightly or wrongly that they had committed few sins and did not deserve the wrath from God that the “sinners” deserved. 

At the end, we see an even more stark contrast between the tax collectors and sinners v. the pharisees. This last story is in the context of Yeshua’s final passover before His suffering, crucifixion and death. We find out that the “righteous” Pharisee’s were conspiring to have Yeshua, a righteous man executed. Yeshua, in Matthew 23:25-31, calls out the Pharisees and scribes as “hypocrites” (G5273), which is a Greek word that literally means “actor.” They were working so hard to clean their outside behaviors and totally ignored their inside behaviors. 

The tax collectors and “sinners” had a better understanding because they had repented and allowed God to clean their hearts inside and the outside actions followed out of that, with overflowing service and love. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

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