“And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)
Soteriology, the word, the study of salvation is the ultimate concern of the religious life. To be sure, the question was put to Jesus by a rich young ruler asking “what must I do to be saved?” Jesus required of him to sell what he had and give to the poor. In his going away sorrowful, the disciples ask, “then who can be saved?”
‘Sozo’, the word in which ‘saved’ of this text finds root has the sense of— ‘To make safe, sound’; ‘to deliver from a direct threat’; ‘to bring safe and sound out of a difficult situation’; ‘preserving the inner being’; ‘deliverance from condemnation’.
In case you missed it, Jesus is now taking ‘pistis/faith’ to a whole other level. There has previously been a concentration on faith as ‘healing action’.
Jesus has taught those who drew near to him in faith who were in need of healing from infirmities, from diseases, from sickness— even unto death, that ‘faith heals’. He has used faith where he found it in believers to bring forgiveness of sins directly to us, notwithstanding a traditional ritualistic ownership. Now Jesus is saying to the woman that her faith makes her safe and sound! Her faith delivers her from direct threat. Faith brings safe and sound out of a difficult situation. Faith will preserve the inner being. Faith gives deliverance from condemnation.
I am reminded of my interview with the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee at the Gladstone-Peapeck Church in New Jersery during my year of Doctoral Biblical Studies at Drew. I had been forewarned by the District Superintendent that not only was this an all white congregation, but only one black family lived in this town. I received an invitation from a young couple, (the husband of which was on the committee), to have dinner in their home and that he would take me to the Church. They warned me of the woman who was to be my biggest adversary. During the meeting I knew exactly who she was by the look on her face— ‘smelled something’? By the time she spoke she said that music is different in the White Church from in the Black Church traditions. She questioned how I would handle the difference in church music. I said to her that music was the least of my concerns. I understand that I would be the 3rd woman that this Church has had as pastor. “I think you’ll need a man!” The outburst of laughter was one of the most liberating moments I have experienced in my life. Everything changed in the moment. The DS called the next day to say that he was not expecting the outcome of the meeting. There was a unanimous vote that I should come to serve as their Pastor
This woman, who biblical history has come to label ‘A Sinful Woman’ has now found a place in Soteriological History! She has made salvation history! Her act of faith has been recounted by Jesus as he asks “Simon, do you see this woman?”
Her ‘inner being is preserved’ when Jesus said her… “go in peace!”
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