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Divine Forgetfulness

April 6th 2012 by Joel Schultz

It is easy to view God as the divine scorekeeper who tracks every deed and misdeed and who will reward us according to what we deserve. But God proves to us on the cross today that He does not keep score over our sins, because they were all paid for by Jesus at His death. Read or Listen to find out more...

Good Friday B - "Divine Forgetfulness" - Psalm 130 - April 6, 2012

A few years ago, there was a television show entitled, My Name is Earl. I only watched a couple of the episodes myself, but it was about a man who had lived a terrible life and never worried about the consequences of his actions. As a result he had purposefully or inadvertently destroyed the lives of countless people. One day Earl wins the lottery and immediately gets hit by a car. He comes to the conclusion that karma was paying him back for all his misdeeds. So he and his bumbling friend go on a quest to balance his scorecard. So each episode entailed him trying to fix the lives of the people he had wronged so that he could begin again with a clean slate – so that his scorecard would show more good than bad. What would happen to us if God kept score? What would happen if our Lord had a divine scorecard, where every deed and every misdeed is added up? Every time you sin, it counts against you, and every time you do something out of completely selfless motives, well, then those count in your favor. What would happen? Would you win or would you lose?

Unless you are deceiving yourself, if God kept score, we would all languish in hell forever. God reminds us of this again and again in His Law. If God kept score, I would be lost. That is what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 130: “If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3). That is the question. The answer, of course, is no one. Not one of us could stand up to the unending gaze of God’s Law.

This is why the psalmist cries, “Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD!” (Psalm 130:1). As we gaze upon our Lord’s Passion and death, it is clear that He is dying upon the tree because of us. We are the crowd crying, “Crucify Him!” We are Herod, who gaped and hoped for some show. We are Pontius Pilate, who committed Jesus to death. We are the soldiers, who nailed Him to the tree. We are the disciples, who scattered at the thought of being caught on the wrong side. It is your sins that put Him there. They are real, and we killed the Son of God.

“If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3). But. Left to ourselves, we are lost, alone and dead. But we are not left to ourselves. That is the great, wonderful message of salvation that comes to you today. But. “But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (130:4).

We learn two things from seeing God die on the cross that Good Friday so many years ago. First, we learn that our sins put Him there. Second, we learn that God forgives. Forgiveness. It’s a word that slips off our tongue like it costs nothing. Yet it is the most expensive word in the whole world. That word, forgiveness, cost Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His life. That word sent Him down to earth to be mocked, tortured, and killed for you.

“But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.” When Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is Finished,” He paid the price for that word, forgiveness. He cried from out of the depths, for He was abandoned and smitten by God, so that you would never face that great pain and suffering that He endured. It is in His death that we have forgiveness. It is only in His death that we may rejoice in God’s forgiveness.

As the psalmist prayed, “He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities [from all their sins]” (130:8). God bought back your soul from Satan. God Himself brought you out of the pit. And His work of forgiving your sins goes on to this very day. His Word of absolution and forgiveness is like the sweetest wine upon our lips. Long for that gift from God. Flee to His Word of forgiveness! Don’t let the sun go down upon your sins. Confess your sins, and God will nail them to that tree. For that tree of death is a tree of life for you.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It was your sins that put Him on the cross, but it was also God’s love that put Him on the cross. Jesus could have come down. He could have given in and gone His own way. But He stayed the course. He said Amen to God’s love for you. And His love for His Father meant that His love for you would never end.

“If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3–4). God forgives. He gives you Himself. He washes you and makes you clean. He feeds you with His very body and blood. He puts the word of absolution into your ears. You will not die, but live, and proclaim the great works of God. Truly this is Good Friday. For the greatest good was accomplished by Jesus Christ today – your forgiveness and life. Amen.

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