My original plan in mapping out thirty gifts that Jesus offers us was to end with the gift of Forgiveness. At first, I thought that was the greatest of all these spiritual presents and therefore should come last. After contemplating the true power of the Lord’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of ALL our sins (past, present, and future!), I smiled. Forgiveness can’t wait until the end of this journey. We need it now. The book of Hebrews says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”(9:22) I can’t wake up one day, decide to do good deeds and be saved. Only the blood of Christ, shed on the cross, is the atonement needed to cover my sin problem. On my own I can do nothing. The apostle Paul wrote of this reality to the early believers in Ephesus: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) The beautiful gift of God’s forgiveness to save us from all of our sins comes by crying out to our Savior and surrendering our lives to Him. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
John’s gospel tells a moving story about a Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well who had five former husbands. She finally found true love with Christ. After her time spent drinking the living water that Jesus offers, the woman was free to serve the Lord by proclaiming His glory. She had felt His forgiveness and it opened her eyes to look past herself to people who didn’t know Jesus. The result of her new mission was changed lives: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” (John 4:39) Peter told Cornelius, “All the prophets testify about [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)
The importance of this gift Jesus offers us is beautifully displayed in the fifth chapter of Luke. A paralytic man was carried by friends to Jesus in hopes of healing. The crowd that had come to hear Jesus preach was so large that the friends had to take the man up on the roof of the house. They devised a plan and lowered the man through the roof tiles, down “into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” (Luke 5:19) When do our lives make the most sense? When we bring them to the feet of Jesus. Which leads us to an amazing discovery. Luke’s account shows us how important Forgiveness is to our Savior. He saw the lengths the men went to so their brother might be healed. Jesus turned to the sick man and said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Before Jesus fixes the man, he forgives! What matters most to Jesus? When we have a relationship with Him where we walk as forgiven sons and daughters of the Most High! Jesus healed the paralytic man and told him to take his mat and go. All the way home, he praised God, so much so we read that everyone who saw him also praised God.
What a clear mission statement for our lives today: Be transparent with Jesus. Tell Him what’s on our hearts and confess our sins. Remember He died for us so that His forgiveness can heal our deepest self-inflicted sin wounds. Keep our lives right in front of Jesus. And may we praise God all of our days for His glory and so others around us might do the same!