Pardon written in the wounds of Jesus

Your have been pardoned, and your proof is written in the wounds of Jesus.

I know it is Christmas time and we are supposed to be thinking about the birth of Jesus, but this past week, I have been gripped with a thought concerning His death. His death decreed our pardon, our forgiveness, and our release from sin.

Isaiah said, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

I have needed that, have you? I have transgressed, I have been caught in iniquity, I have failed my loved ones, and I have needed pardon.

Pardon is amazing. To be guilty and then to be set free is a gift of immeasurable proportions, and it changes everything for the freed. Life is sweeter when it gets returned to us. Decisions matter more when we actually have the freedom to make them. Our blessings are more potent when we know we don’t fully deserve them.

Exiting presidents often issue presidential pardons in their final moments in office, and the recipients of those pardons get a second chance to begin again. How amazing to have received something greater than the forgiveness of a human president, how amazing to be forgiven by God!

It did not come cheaply. Although we call God’s forgiveness a free gift, it did not come to us easily or casually. It was purchased by the ultimate act of love, a love that absorbed unthinkable pain and stared down death itself.

Let’s exult in our forgiveness. Let’s strive to live lives that never need to ask for it again. Let’s be quick to extend pardon to the people who fail us, and let’s grow into God’s beautiful blend of truth, justice, and unquenchable grace. Your pardon has been written in the wounds of Jesus, and the life you are dreaming of is found in Him.


A moral obligation to be intelligent

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34)

In his book Strength to Love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that it was not merely sin that nailed Jesus to the cross; it was also ignorance. “The men who cried, ‘Crucify him,’ were not bad men but rather blind men. The jeering mob that lined the roadside that led to Calvary was not composed of evil people but of blind people. They knew not what they did. What a tragedy!”[1]

History is replete with accounts of men and women who engaged in woeful behavior based largely in either ignorance or misunderstanding. Mankind’s historical inquisitions and persecutions had strains of ignorance and intellectual blindness running through them that made their outcomes doubly tragic: they were evil, yes, but they were also uninformed. Misunderstandings of science, racial equality, mental illnesses, and many other things have led to oppression, enslavement, and misguided notions that have traumatized the human race.

We are called to be better. I think we should ponder these words from Dr. King and consider where they might apply to our perspectives and our engagement with the world: “Sincerity and conscientiousness in themselves are not enough. History has proven that these noble virtues may degenerate into tragic vices. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. The church must implore men to be good and well-intentioned. But devoid of intelligence, goodness and conscientiousness will become brutal forces leading to shameful crucifixions. Never must the church tire of reminding men that they have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.”[2]

Let’s commit today to redoubling our efforts at being good, just, conscientious, and intelligent.

[1] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Strength to Love, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), p. 43.

[2] Ibid., 46.

The Mercy Seat

If you had to customize a seat from which you would conduct your business and engage in all of your daily conversations what kind of chair would it be? Would it be simple and comfy or stately and professional? Would it be economical and efficient or perfectly aligned to fit your hips, lower back, and spine? Then, if you had to name your seat, what would you call it?

Personally, I’ve never given much thought to crafting and naming my ideal seat, but there are some people, including God, who have.

Jesus said, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:2). When Pontius Pilate gave his ruling against Jesus Christ he was sitting on “the judge’s seat” (John 19:13).

Do you remember anything about God’s seat? Do you remember what it was called? Out of all the names that God could have rightly given His seat—out of all the virtues that His seat could have represented—He chose this: The Mercy Seat.

When God gave Moses instructions for the creation of the Ark of the Covenant, He told Him to make a “mercy seat” as the covering for the Ark (Exodus 25:17, ESV). This mercy seat would be positioned in between the gold sculpted cherubim, and God said, “There I will meet with you, and there above the mercy seat…I will speak with you” (v.22).

Is that incredible?

That’s where He sits when He wants to talk to you. That’s where He’s reclining when you pour out your heart to Him and petition Him with your prayers. I would understand if His seat was called judgment. It would make sense to me if His throne was named righteousness, but it stirs and moves and heals my soul to know that He has chosen to call it something else. He sits upon mercy, grace, and love (Hebrews 4:16).

Another name for the Mercy Seat was the Atonement Cover—that’s Jesus! He is our atonement, the one who provides what we are lacking so we can enter right standing before God. This casts a different light on the imagery of Paul’s “Judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Indeed, we will all eventually stand before Christ’s judgment seat, and yet our fate will be in good hands because the judgment seat is occupied by the Mercy Seat.

Please take heart! If you or your loved one needs mercy from God, that’s exactly what He is most inclined to give.

Christian Hedonism (it’s a good thing)

chief end of manThe Westminster Shorter Catechism (a summary of Christian beliefs from England in the 1600s) describes the ultimate purpose of mankind this way: “The chief end of man (men/women) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

That’s a pretty remarkable statement. Our ultimate end/purpose is to enjoy God forever.

I’ve known a lot of Christians who didn’t seem like they enjoyed God very much. They dourly went about their faith with all the excitement of a dental patient, never seeming to delight in the life that Jesus claimed to offer. If following Jesus has become a grim, arduous affair for us, then we’ve somehow lost sight of what it really means to follow Him.

I mean consider what Jesus offers us: forgiveness…the guidance of the Holy Spirit…unconditional love…destiny…significance and purpose…the sense of God’s presence…the power to live in our higher nature. The Christian life is not easy to live–indeed every Christian goes through seasons of testings, trials, and tribulations–but when it is truly lived it is ultimately delightful.

King David said it this way “You fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). Pastor John Piper echoed David’s sentiment by popularizing the term “Christian hedonism.” Mr. Piper believes that we followers of Jesus Christ should unapologetically seek the joyous benefits associated with the Christian faith. Indeed, Piper believes that enjoying the benefits of a life with God are central to successfully living the Christian faith.

Understandably, some people criticize the linking of the words Christian and hedonism. After all, unrestrained, hedonistic pleasure-seeking is not a part of the Christian path. However, Piper is not wrong.

Jesus said that if we come to Him we would find rest for our souls, living water, and an abundant kind of life. Is it wrong for us to want the things that He claims to freely offer us?

Well what about selfishness? We don’t want a self-centered motivation for our faith do we? And we don’t want to elevate the gifts above the giver.

Those are great points! So let’s not do those things. Let’s not be selfish. Let’s not crave the blessings while ignoring the one who blesses. But let’s certainly not think that it is somehow more holy or pious to live a joyless, white-knuckle kind of faith.

Jesus is fun. God is the author of laughter as well as the comfort for our tears. And it brings Him glory when our ultimate delight is centered in Him.

Jesus as WAY not just TRUTH

the wayDo you ever forget that Jesus is Way and not just Truth? Sometimes I think we forget that He is both.

Jesus called Himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” and I think we do a pretty good with the Truth part. Most people who are familiar with the teachings of the church grasp the idea of Jesus as Truth. They know that He is the standard and that we are supposed to follow His teachings and His word, etc.

But what we sometimes overlook is the Way part of the equation. We forget that the Way Jesus lived and spoke and related was just as important as the Truth that He proclaimed. We can’t separate the two. If Truth isn’t presented in Jesus’ Way then it’s incomplete.

Jesus’ Truth was always embodied in His Way. They were twins, sibling characteristics of the Kingdom of God.

Far too often throughout our history, the church has alienated people because we railed on Truth without touching the Way. We held up Jesus as a truth standard to achieve without holding Him up as model to become. Everything about Him—His treatment of women, children, the broken, and the unfortunate—revealed God to us. His Way was God’s Way, and when we cradle Jesus’ Truth inside Jesus’ Way then Jesus’ Life—not condemning alienation—can come more powerfully to the world.

Let’s live and embrace and embody His Way.

And the answer is…

jesus on crossJesus.

That’s it. He is the answer.

To what question(s), you ask?

All of them.

  • What does God look like?
  • How do I know God loves me?
  • How do I relate with God?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Why am I here?
  • Why am I such a mixture of brilliance and brokenness?
  • Where will I go when I die?
  • How am I supposed to live?
  • Who should I pattern my life after?
  • Is there anyone who truly loves me as I am, but who will help me become more than I am?

Jesus. He is the answer.

“The Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…” (Hebrews 1:3)

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (Colossians 2:9-10)

The word “fullness” from that passage was used to refer to a fishing net filled with fish or a house filled with a sweet perfume. Isn’t that beautiful imagery? In Christ we overflow with purpose.

The original Christmas heralded His birth, and every Christmas since has offered us another chance to receive His life. Let’s receive it. Let’s turn to Him and cling to him and find our fullest expression of life in Him.