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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Jesus wants to forgive anybody just about anything

Jesus wants to forgive anybody just about anything

In the Book of Samuel, a great sin is committed by King David. Although he had many wives, he lusted after Bathsheba, who was the wife of Uriah, a soldier in the army. David told the commanding officer to place Uriah in the front line of battle, where the enemy would kill him.

After they killed Uriah, David took his wife Bathsheba as his own.

The prophet Nathan came to see David and spoke of a grave injustice that took place in his kingdom. A wealthy landowner with many sheep had an honored guest for supper. Rather than slaughter one of his own sheep, he took the only sheep of his poor neighbor.

David was enraged and said, “As sure as I am king, that man will die for his offense.”

Nathan then pointed at David and said, “That man is you!”

David knew immediately that he was being confronted with his sin in having killed Uriah so that he could have Bathsheba.

He repented and Nathan assures him of God’s forgiveness.

There are countless stories in the press these days of people using their positions of power, fame or wealth for their own unjust and sinful purposes.

Although we are not in positions of great power or wealth, you and I are still tempted to use whatever influence we have over others for our own benefit, pleasure or gain. Sometimes it takes someone like the prophet Nathan to help us realize our sin in taking advantage of our relationship with others.

I can recall times when a good friend lovingly pointed out one of my shortcomings. Having my eyes opened to face an unpleasant truth was painful. Yet it was also a great grace and an opportunity for growth.

Saint Paul says works, any religious activity on our part, cannot purchase our salvation. We cannot buy our way into heaven by the good things we do. A debt is a debt. However, Jesus paid our debt and redeemed us by his passion, death and resurrection. To be saved we must accept the goodness and mercy of God and love others.

Jesus wants to forgive sinners. He’ll forgive anybody just about anything. That’s a precious gift in a world that prefers judgment and condemnation rather than forgiveness. We see many people who are prepared to pass judgment on others.

The primary opponents of God’s forgiveness are the righteous, churchgoing folk, who are personally convinced they are already on the bus, and would be offended that others might attain the privilege that they worked so hard to obtain. When God is the judge, however, all sinners stand an incredible chance of being released.

David repented after Nathan implicated him in his guilt and forgiveness followed immediately. God has already accomplished it through Christ. All we need to do is accept it – and love.

I would like to close with a poem entitled Folks in Heaven:

I was shocked, confused bewildered; As I entered Heaven’s door,

Not by the beauty of it all, Or the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven, Who made me sputter and gasp –

The thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade; Who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor; Who never said anything nice.

She, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I would love to hear your take.

How did all these sinners get up here? God must have made a mistake.

And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue.”

“Hush my child, they’re all in shock. No one thought they’d see you!”