We can catch a glimpse of the answer with an analogy in human relationships. Suppose I have done something that deeply hurts a friend, and he says to me. “that’s ok, it doesn’t make any difference.
Forget it – has he forgiven me? What he has really said is: “I don’t really care enough about you to be touched by anything that you say or do. You are just not that important to me.” Not only that, he leaves me alone with my awareness of my guilt. He lets me “stew in my own juice” refusing to help me by letting me know that he suffers not only because of what I have done but because he knows how I feel and can share with me my remorse and guilt.
Why did Jesus die? Because God cares for us too much to dismiss our sin and guilt with a casual “it doesn’t matter”.
- Humans got us into this mess, and it was necessary for a human to get us out of this mess.
- The problem was that we humans simply couldn’t do it…the OT is a sad track record of our failures to fix this problem ourselves, and close the separation between us and God.
- It’s a dilemma: humans need to fix it…but don’t have the power to do it.
- The solution was for God to come to earth as a human. As part of the human race he was part of the group that needed to solve this, but as God he hawd the power to actaully do it.
Words & lightning bolts wouldn’t be enough; action was necessary to prove that his love and forgiveness were genuine. Because he wanted to stand with us and share the loneliness and alienation we bring on ourselves from him and others. Because it is just when he comes to our side that our loneliness, alienation and guilt are overcome.
In the cross, God says to us, “Yes, it’s true. You have hurt and offended me. You have done it just by hurting others whom I love. You are guilty. But I still love you. Therefore I will make your guilt and its consequences my own. I will suffer with you – FOR you, and make you clean.
This is grace…a free gift from God.
This is easier to remember
In the words of Bono:
“It is a mind blowing concept that God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people…but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between karma (my past actions dictate my future) and grace …But grace defies reason and logic…God’s love interrupts the consequences of our actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I have done a lot of stupid stuff…It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for grace, I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross because I know who I am, and I hope that I don’t have to depend on my religiosity.”
Grace that Bono was talking about is the free gift of God—the forgiveness that we don’t deserve but that is freely given to us by God. It is not something that we can earn by being good enough, or nice enough. And it has nothing to do with being “religious” –with performing religious ceremonies—there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love or God’s grace—it is freely given—all we have to do is accept it.
A friend had a young boy at home, and a baby on the way – and his mother loved to help out by cleaning up the house. One particularly stressful time she was coming down to decompress the situation by cleaning up the house. My friend came home that day to find his wife madly cleaning up the house, before the mother in law arrived. She didn’t want her mother-in-law wouldn’t think she was a bad wife, mother, home-maker…by having her clean a dirty house.
We so often we think that we have to have cleaned up our lives before we can accept what God wants to give us. We don’t have to have sorted ourselves out before we can accept God’s free gift of forgiveness, his grace.
Have you been forgiven, or shown grace, before? What does it feel like to have a clean slate with someone?
Read John 20 and reflect – How do you see Jesus showing grace to Mary and Thomas?