Luke 7:48-50 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (NIV)
If somebody owes you money but cannot pay, you might choose to cancel (forgive) the debt. But it would be wrong to think you can cancel a debt owed to somebody else; because the money belongs to the creditor and not you. Every sin has to be paid for, but what is the price and who has the right to extract the price or to forgive? The penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God: therefore only God has the right to demand payment. In the same way, only God can forgive (cancel the debt). The amazing thing is that God's forgiveness is not without cost to Himself: Jesus came to earth to be punished for every sin, thus ensuring that justice was done (see www.crosscheck.org.uk).
When Jesus declared that all the prostitute's sins were forgiven, the natural response of the other guests was to ask, "Who is Jesus, that He claims the right to forgive her sins?" The answer should have been obvious: if Jesus forgives sins, He must be God! Jesus knew that when He died on the cross, He would personally be paying for that woman's sins ... so He had every right to forgive. Her peace came because He paid the price.
The woman may not have understood all that, but she did believe that Jesus was her only hope. She put her faith in Jesus to do something to help her, even if she did not know how. It is the same today: all those who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). So if you are despairing about yourself, go to Jesus trusting Him to do whatever is right for you. If others do not know what to do - tell them to go to Jesus and trust that He knows what to do. When it comes to sin and failure, He certainly knows how to forgive and has already paid the price to discharge the debt - so go to Him in faith and believe that His forgiveness is real, and for you personally.
Prayer: Gracious God. Thank You for being a forgiving God and for taking away my sin when I come in penitence and faith through the blood of Jesus. Forgive me for my proud unwillingness to confess my sin and receive Your forgiveness, when You are ready and willing to cleanse me and give me Your peace. Help me to be more willing to confess my sin, and to tell others how much You can do for them too. In Jesus' Name. Amen.