An issue in the mind of Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7 was that of defilement. For him, keeping oneself ceremonially clean was equivalent to holiness, and the key to God’s favor. Since he was scrupulous to maintain that ritual purity, he felt no need of repentance. This legalistic focus on the details or ritual purity lulled his mind to sleep on the natural heartfelt sensitivity to one’s own sinful nature.
However, in the case of the prostitute, it is simply stupid to imagine a ritual of penitence as somehow defiling on Jesus.
We as believers are slow to execute any kind of punitive justice because our hearts know that, as long as people still breathe, there is time for God to break through. We bear no burden for anyone making that change, but we are there to receive them into the Kingdom when they do. We are thus wholly reluctant to execute human justice on even the gravest threats under any law. We should expect it to be exceedingly rare when the Spirit moves us to close the door on human life.
At the same time, we must remain ready for the sake of divine justice to ensure no one threatens the opportunity for others to repent.
So we bear the burden of developing a sensitivity to our divinely granted dominion in such matters. There are times when we execute justice, both by swinging the sword and by restraining the sword. Only God knows which we should do at any given moment, so we must remain wide open to the guidance coming down from Heaven in our convictions. And we can never forget how this can put us at odds with worldly human justice.
This is behind Paul’s admonition to live at peace with the world (Romans 12:18). There is a tactical calculus we learn in dealing with human governments at any given moment. Sometimes wisdom requires we let things slide, but on rare occasions we must sacrifice ourselves for a moment of revelation by opposing men who don’t know Jesus.
I had a very strange dream last night in which I was called upon to have pity on a very polarizing figure in our world today — Hillary Clinton. In my dream, she knew full well I was opposed to everything she stood for, and it was in my power to do her harm. But the Spirit spoke loudly to me that it was not the right time. I know beyond all doubt her tearful pleading was fake, but that wasn’t the point. All things in God’s time.