Summary: A reminder that the best thing we can receive from Jesus is forgiveness
You’ve had a run-in with your wife. She didn’t understand your point of view, and she really laid into you. You both had to leave for work, and you both left in a huff. The day went on, though not very well, and your anger subsided. Finally, you’re both about to get to sit down and talk for the first time, and you both know you need to. Now, you’ve been thinking this thing through, and you know just what to say. “Honey, I just want you to know that I forgive you for what you did.” Way wrong answer! She was expecting an apology from you, not for you to accept one she wasn’t even going to make! You can finish this scene in your mind from there!
There’s nothing that turns someone off like telling them you forgive them when they feel like they don’t need it. This is one of the difficulties we all run into when it comes to talking to someone about their relationship with Jesus. “God will forgive you!” “Forgive me? For what? I didn’t know I was such a bad person!” “Well, yes, you are.” (and we call that message “the good news.”) So, we do some shying away from this whole subject. After all, who are you to talk about someone else’s need to be forgiven?
But I find Jesus dealing with this very attitude all the time.
(Luke 18:9-14) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The Pharisees, the rich young ruler, and others all remind us of individuals who just aren’t convinced that there’s any need for them to be forgiven of anything. “After, all, I’m not so bad. And, after all, I can name you a whole bunch of other people who are far more guilty than me.”
(1 John 1:8-10) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Joke - Clara Null, OK City, OK - I’d just finished a lesson on Christian behavior. "Now, Billy," I asked, "tell me what we must do before we can expect to be forgiven for our sins." Without hesitation, Billy replied, "First we gotta sin."
I don’t have the goal of all of us leaving here today feeling guilty – just the opposite. But, I do want us to leave not deceiving ourselves, having the truth in us, God’s word having a place in our lives, forgiven, and not making God out to be a liar. In fact, I hope that we can all leave here with a bit of the attitude with which the crowd left that day in Mk 2 – They were blown away! “We’ve some amazing things here today!” The word Lk uses is where our word paradox comes from: “This just goes outside the parameters of conventional wisdom!”