Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confirmation of Adoption (and of complete forgiveness)

   This post will be about John 20 (shocking, I know!) but specifically verse 17

  Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

   This could possibly be one of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible because it is the first confirmation that, through Jesus, we are part of the family of God and are completely forgiven! 
   After the disciples hid behind looked doors during the crucifixion and during the time afterward (excluding John and Peter), Jesus' first message to them is that they are a family. That His Father is their Father. He doesn't reprimand them but completely forgives them! He lets them know that they are no longer just friends but brothers, no longer worshipping a God with whom only Jesus has intimate access but a God who is intimate with all of them. 
   When I read the story of the crucifixion I am always struck by  Luke 23:34 where Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I'm consistently amazed by His great love for the people who were hurting Him and His readiness to forgive His persecutors. But could it be that He was not only talking about the ones who were physically hurting Him but also the ones who were hurting His spirit by deserting Him? Should I also be amazed by His great love for and readiness to forgive the disciples who sat in hiding during His time of trouble? I think so. I think that when Jesus asked His father to forgive, He didn't just mean the people standing around Him who were physically hurting Him and dividing His clothes but also His followers who fled in fear when times got tough (Mark 14:50) and Pilate who foolishly thought he could wash away his sin on his own (Matthew 27:24). He was asking forgiveness for the Pharisees who refused to open their eyes to the truth (John 9:40-41) and for Judas who betrayed Jesus then took his own life (Matthew 27:2-5). He was crying out on the behalf of Peter who denied Him with lies  then bitterly wept (Matthew 26 74-75and for Joseph of Arimathea who was too scared to speak up until later on (Mark 15:43; John 19:38). He was praying for those who grew up with Him yet refused to believe Him (Matthew 13:55-57) and for the people of Jerusalem who shouted His praises before calling for His life (Mark 11:9; Mark 15:13). In short, He was praying for everyone. And I know that His prayer reaches far beyond the cross and into the 21st century where He still cries out to His Father on our behalf each time we delude ourselves into relying on our own strength or refuse to open our eyes to the truth or any other of our numerous sins. And I know that because of His love and sacrifice and readiness to forgive us, we are forgiven. By pleading for our forgiveness, He has proven that He has forgiven us all and that is, quite simply, Good News!

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