What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of forgiveness?
I tend to think of people who have forgiven the impossible. Usually, we hear of such stories in the news, we marvel at it for a day or two, and then there is something else to grab our collective attention. Rarely do follow up stories detail the pain and anguish, the PTSD, caused by the event. I suspect that genuine forgiveness is far more complicated than we think.
This weekend we are celebrating Easter, the death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth for the purpose of sacrificing himself to make final and complete forgiveness available to all who believe in his name.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
Our sins are the cause of the broken relationship that exists between us and God. God has always desired to be in loving healthy relationship with the people created in his image. He delights in each one of us, but sin has always gotten in the way of meaningful interaction.
The entire Old Testament is a story of God’s people, sometimes faithful and more often not, and his attempts to teach them to believe and relate to him. The miracles that must have astounded the Israelites, like the exodus, water from a rock, God’s thunderous voice on Mt. Sinai, and the daily provision of manna, were quickly forgotten and replaced by grumbling, a golden calf and lack of faith in the God who was so obviously with them. And that’s just the story of the first few books of the Bible.
God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle and to offer daily sacrifices for sin. Bulls, goats, lambs and rams were all regularly slaughtered and the blood sprinkled on the altar of the tabernacle. It sounds awful, unpleasant, and messy, but it was necessary. Blood, death and sacrifice were central to the Israelites faith. The law was not a final solution; it would not permanently deal with sin.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Hebrews 10:1
The endless sacrifices would never make us perfect, but they foreshadowed the one sacrifice that would forgive our sins for once and for all.
Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26
Easter weekend causes me to think about my sins, to face them and repent of them, but more importantly, to rejoice in the assurance that they are forgiven through the costly sacrifice of Jesus.
That truth gives me hope.
It’s easy to forget that God created us in his image, that he loves us, and that he has plans for us. Sometimes I don’t think about what it cost him to give me complete and eternal forgiveness of all of my sins, once for all. He still wants us to know him, to trust him, and to be in close relationship with him. Jesus made that possible.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
Celebrate forgiveness this Easter and rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus.