Thursday, June 14, 2007

Forgiven So We Can Forgive

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

John 8 gives us the account of Jesus encountering the adulterous woman and her accusers. They were ready to condemn her to death. They stood with stones raised. Jesus, as He does for us, stood in her defense. He said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." The teachers and Pharisees began to walk away. Jesus asked her if anyone had remained to condemn her. He was there, He knew no one had, but He wanted her to say it out loud. "No one," she said. "Then neither do I," He said.

I think that it is significant that Jesus wanted the woman to say for herself that no one had stayed. There is power in our open confession. We should not hesitate to confess the truth to the Father of Truth. Even when the truth of our confession requires the owning of our sin. It always seems easy to confess God's goodness. It is not so easy to confess our sin.

Understanding that we all are sinners, saved by grace through faith, it is important for us to confess corporately our desperate need for God's mercy. Jesus, by His redemptive work on the cross has become the Lord of our shame. He has taken it from us in His mercy. Our God, Yahweh, is both merciful and just. This is a paradox by human standards. It would seem unjust to show mercy to a criminal. God in His goodness poured out His justice on His Son in order to pour out His mercy on us. Without this we would be sinners in the hands of a just God, deserving only of His wrath.

"Man of Sorrows," what a name for the Son of God who came; ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Ephesians 1:7 says "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." Just as we know how to love because of God's love for us, so we know how to forgive because we have been forgiven. For there is no good in us except that which is the Spirit of Almighty God.

Luke 7:36-50 tells the story of another adulterous woman. This one anointed Jesus' feet with perfume, washed them with her tears, dried them with her hair. The Pharisee was angry. "Don't you know what kind of a woman this is?" he said. Jesus then showed how she had done naught but worship and love Him since she walked into the room for she had been forgiven of much sin. If the Pharisee had only realized that he too had much sin to be forgiven of, perhaps his response would have been similar to the woman's. Is our response that of those forgiven of much? Do we love as people who have been loved much? Do we forgive as those who have been forgiven of much? Do we worship as children forgiven of much?

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison; for the sin in our hearts and heads, for the poison on our lips and the blood on our hands. Have mercy on us, O God of our Salvation.

Grace and Peace,