But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. 1 John 1:7-10
It was a good many years ago that a lady became a Christian.
She was so blessed by the forgiveness Jesus had given that she could hardly stop talking about it. It was wonderful to see ... most of the time. I even remember her saying, "I'm so glad I'm forgiven. I have an aunt I used to hate so much I promised that when she died I'd never go to her funeral, but now that I've been forgiven, well, I'd be happy to go to her funeral any time."
The lady has the right idea, although not all the right words, about forgiveness.
The great Reformer, Martin Luther, once spoke of a night during which his sleep had been disturbed by a dream. In that dream he watched as an angel began to record all his sins. The list seemed endless, and despair swept over the dreamer as he concluded a just God could never forgive so many errors of thought and deed.
Then, when the dream was darkest, another hand came: the Savior's wounded hand.
The Savior's hand began to write. It put down, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin." As Luther watched, blood flowed from that pierced hand. It flowed down and washed away the record of all he had done wrong. Forgiveness for our mountain of mistakes, sins and shortcomings is the great gift Jesus gives.
If you wish to see forgiveness, look to the cross of Christ.
There you will see forgiveness in its purest form. Even as the Savior hung upon the cross, even as every one of the world's sins -- your sins, my sins, everybody's sins -- rested upon Him, even as men gambled for His clothing and laughed at His pain, He called out: "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34a).
Do you prefer forgiveness to be more personal? Look into your own heart, at your own conscience, and know the worst sins that you find there are -- because of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection -- gone.
Forgiveness? Look to the cross and remember that place where died all our dark and devious deeds, all our foul and filthy feelings.
Forgiveness? Look to the cross where your forgiveness was won. Look into the Savior's empty, open tomb and see His victory. Because of Jesus, the Father -- rather than cursing and condemning us -- redeems and restores us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may my prayer echo that of the tax collector, as I say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13b). Then, knowing that through Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, I have been forgiven, may I lead a life that glorifies You. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries