And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)
This discussion on the ‘A Sinful Woman Forgiven’ in raises the point of Jesus giving her peace, even in the midst of the abuse from Simon as an unwelcome visitor in his house. No simple thing, for it is the same peace that Jesus leaves the world as he ascends in resurrection… a brand new life of peace.
Jesus wept in John’s Gospel when he saw the distress of Mary who threw herself at his feet weeping saying ‘Lord if you had been here my brother (Lazarus) would not have died’. During our childhood Vacation Bible School days we learned it to be the shortest verse of scripture and some, like my brother, when the tradition of going around the table and saying a Bible verse before the meal was practiced, always just said, “Jesus wept.”
But it is Jesus’ weeping in Luke’s Gospel that has a more far reaching significance. It was on the day that the Church has come to know as Palm Sunday. The ‘Triumphant Entry’ into the city riding on a colt. As he came near and saw the city, he wept saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!” And he began to prophesy.
The discussion of the Old Testament Hebrew—‘shalom’ would take a whole other study, so in this small space we look at ‘eirene’ as used by Jesus in this text. A basic feature of this word is that it rarely denotes relationship. It’s not an attitude, but a state of being. It is extolled by Philemon in classical Greek as a ‘supreme good’. It is ‘a state’ from which flows all blessings for both land and people. Epictetus thinks it to be the ‘absence of hostility’. While the Stoics sense it to be ‘a desired state of mind’. There is a predominance of it’s usage in ‘the greeting’ in New Testament with the sense of ‘well being’.
For Paul, peace is primary. It is his salutation as he greets both Jew and Gentile. He understands it to be from God as he not only comes into presence speaking peace, but it is also, as with Jesus, his benediction, “and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.”
The principle meaning of ‘eirene’ in NT is ‘salvation’, particularly when used by Jesus— peace as a state of reconciliation with God. “Let not your hearts be troubled… Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives…”
Jesus grieves, then, over our inability to see the things that make for peace. Simon knew nothing about peace on this day, let alone peace being found in his home. After explaining a few things to Simon about the ‘the things that make for peace’, Jesus said to the woman, ‘you go girl! You go in peace!’.
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