John Newton lived from 1725-1807.  He wrote what is undoubtedly the most familiar Christian hymn of all time, Amazing Grace.

Newton’s testimony is equally as profound as the hymn that so beautifully depicts his faith in Christ.  Newton was a young man torn between the influence of a godly mother and an ungodly father.  When he was 11 years old, he began to work with his father, a SEA CAPTAIN.
In his 20’s, Newton forgot the BIBLE TRAINING of his mother.  He became the captain of a ship TRADING SLAVES from WEST AFRICA.  During one of those voyages, a
TERRIBLE STORM arose lasting 7 days.  Every sailor hand pumping water to keep from sinking.  Exhausted, Newton lashed himself to the helm for 12 hours at a time to steer the vessel.  During those frightful hours he REMEMBERED the lessons his mother had taught him.  He called himself“the great blasphemer.”  In his anguish and fear, he called out to God:  “I am too wicked to receive God’s forgiveness.  Lord, please allow me to have the faith that my mother possessed”

He was saved by God’s grace
Left the slave business.
He became a powerful influence on William Wilberforce, leader of Britain’s abolitionist movement.

Newton began to study the Bible in depth.
At 39 years old was ordained as an Anglican pastor.
He preached until he was 82.
Late in his life, as is beautifully portrayed in the film “Amazing Grace,” Newton gave this testimony to William Wilberforce:  “My memory is gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great savior!”
“Heroes of the Faith”, Fedele; “Amazing Grace,” Osbeck

Today, we will focus on forgiveness as we contemplate the memorial of Christian Communion, the remembrance of the bread and cup.

One story in the Gospels which beautifully explain forgiveness is found in Luke 7:36-50.
Luke 7:36–50  “One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. ” “And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””

Jesus was at the home of Simon the Pharisee.  Simon had failed his customary duties:
Water for washing feet
Greeting Jesus as a guest with a kiss
anointing the head of Jesus with oil.
Simon saw himself as righteous

The sinful woman on the other hand lived a “sinful life.”  No doubt she was a “woman of the night” in this small Galilean village.  Now it was not unusual for an uninvited guest to visit the home of a Pharisee to hear teaching from the Scripture.  And so this woman, is there.

The “Jar of perfume” was valued at 300 Denarai, or 300 days wages. At the very least, it was a LIFE’S SAVING.
This event is SIMILAR to the anointing by Mary in Bethany (John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3-9).

Jesus says to Simon, “The one who is forgiven much, loves much”  Luke 7:47.
But the woman was not forgiven because of her love; rather, she loved because she was forgiven   John A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 224.

Jesus is a FORGIVING SAVIOR.  4 Testimonies that emphasize this.
OT Prophesy. Jeremiah 31:33–36  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ” “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

AT HIS BIRTH.  Matthew 1:21  “…you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.””

The WORDS of JESUS.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 23:34 (at the cross) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The WORDS of the APOSTLES   Acts 2:38  “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Lessons from the story of SIMON the PHARISEE and the SINFUL WOMAN
No sin is too great to be forgiven
No sinner is too small to be overlooked
The enemy of forgiveness is PRIDE, not SIN
REPENTANCE is required
Your sin, no matter how great, can be forgiven through faith in Christ.
Horatio Spafford…..
My sin, Oh the bliss, of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O My Soul!

Can EVERY sinner be forgiven?  BIN LADEN?  HITLER?  BOSTON MARATHON BOMBERS?  CHILD MOLESTER?  DRUNK DRIVER who KILLED my FRIEND?

REMEMBER- FORGIVENESS was not YOUR idea, it’s GOD’S!

“NOTHING you have done can put you beyond the reach of God’s grace!”

SATAN SAYS: You’re Too Bad to be FORGIVEN
SATAN SAYS:  I’ve DONE SOMETHING SO BAD things can never be the same.

No matter what you have done, you can always COME HOME

ILLUSTRATION
The small house was simple but adequate. It consisted of one large room on a dusty street. Its red-tiled roof was one of many in this poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the Brazilian village. It was a comfortable home. Maria and her daughter, Christina, had done what they could to add color to the gray walls and warmth to the hard dirt floor: an old calendar, a faded photograph of a relative, a wooden crucifix. The furnishings were modest: a pallet on either side of the room, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove. Maria’s husband had died when Christina was an infant. The young mother, stubbornly refusing opportunities to remarry, got a job and set out to raise her young daughter. And now, fifteen years later, the worst years were over. Though Maria’s salary as a maid afforded few luxuries, it was reliable and it did provide food >and clothes. And now Christina was old enough to get a job to help out.

Some said Christina got her independence from her mother. She recoiled at the traditional idea of marrying young and raising a family. Not that she couldn’t have had her pick of husbands. Her olive skin and brown eyes kept a steady stream of prospects at her door. She had an infectious way of throwing her head back and filling the room with laughter. She also had that rare magic some women have that makes every man feel like a king just by being near them. But it was her spirited curiosity that made her keep all the men at arm’s length. She spoke often of going to the city. She dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Just the thought of this horrified her mother. Maria was always quick to remind Christina of the harshness of the streets. “People don’t know you there. Jobs are scarce and the life is cruel. And besides, if you went there, what would you do for a living?”

Maria knew exactly what Christina would do, or would have to do for a living. That’s why her heart broke when she awoke one morning to find her daughter’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. She also knew immediately what she must do to find her. She quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all her money, and ran out of the house. On her way to the bus stop she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.

Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture—taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note.

It wasn’t too long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.

It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. Yet the little village was, in too many ways, too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.” She did.

Lucado, Max (2011-01-09). No Wonder They Call Him the Savior -: Discover Hope in the Unlikeliest Place?Upon the Cross (The Bestseller Collection Book 4) (Kindle Locations 1670-1694). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

No sin you have committed is UNFORGIVABLE
No mistake you have made is UNFIXABLE
No problem you have caused is UNBEARABLE
No part of your appearance is UNACCEPTABLE
Nothing in your past is UNPARDONABLE

You are Not Alone, and your sin is not beyond the capacity of God’s forgiveness

You have not been forgotten
God knows exactly what you are going through
God has a purpose for you

Come Home to Jesus, the Forgiving Savior