Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Today’s Topic: Forgiveness
Today’s Text: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
The company of the discouraged is a very noble company. Not too long ago, the Hayden Planetarium in New York City issued an invitation to all those who were interested in applying to be a part of the crew on the first journey to another planet. Eighteen thousand people applied. They gave the applications to a panel of psychologists, who examined them thoroughly and came to the conclusion that in the vast majority of incidents, those who applied did so because they were discouraged with their lives here and hoped they could find a new life somewhere else.
People love to get invitations. It seems like we interpret them as a means of escape from the drudgery of our routine lives. But not all invitations are accepted.
I remember a time when the oldest of my grandchildren were still very young and afraid to climb up into the playhouse we have for them in the back yard. No matter how many times I would stand behind them and encourage them to “go to the top”, they just wouldn’t climb the ladder. Then it dawned on me to climb up first and invite them to come up to where I was. It worked! With my hand extended and a simple “Come on up here,” they climbed right up.
Isaiah reminds us of the invitation the Lord offers to anyone and everyone who wants to “come on up here.” Jesus invites us to come together with him and reason with Him so that we can be forgiven of our sins. The Hebrew word for “reason” has several meanings. It means,
- to prove – come together with God and let Him prove to you who He is and what He says
- decide – God always gives you the choice to believe or not
- judge – He wants everyone to know He is the ultimate Judge and will condemn all sin
- rebuke – He rebukes all sin and offers an alternative of righteousness
- correct – He will provide the power of His Holy Spirit to correct all our sin issues
- be right – He will make us right
The invitation God extends is for the forgiveness of sins and the removal of shame. That’s what Jesus paid for on the cross. Hebrews tells us that, in an act of enormous courage and defiance, Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2) and then adds, significantly, that he is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and ascension—the going down and coming up of the Son of God—open the way not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but also for the lifting of our shame. For these are ingredients in the accepting grace of God and in the invitation to union with God’s Son. (Melvin D. Hugen and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Books & Culture)
What a marvelous invitation from Jesus – the forgiveness of sins and the abolishment of shame. No matter how dark the stain of sin, the blood of Jesus Christ makes us white as snow.
For those who have already said yes to His invitation, there is still a responsibility. We are now the ones who stand at the cross with the resurrected Jesus and extend the invitation to others. We do not walk through life telling people to go to the cross: we walk with them and invite them to come with us to the cross. Today, and every day, become the living invitation others need to experience the grace of God. They are looking for what we have.