RECONCILIATION IN PREPARATION FOR EASTER
CALL TO WORSHIP:
I am the light of the world, says the LORD; those who follow me will have the light of life. John 8:12
Month end statements and Income Tax filing get us involved in trying to make numbers add up. We sweat over them and get frustrated and sometimes hire someone else to do it. New Years and family reunions get us involved in considering another kind of reconciliation– that of relationships. We look back and see hurt feelings, wrongs done, practical jokes that got out of hand, and recognize ‘something should be done’– whether or not anything happens.
The Bible is full of such stories and incidents, but I would like us to consider just a few.
The story in John 9 is a study of contrasts and potentials and reconciliation.
On the one hand you have the blind man– unable to function completely in society. His condition was considered a punishment, and a just one at that. And the man seems to have accepted the situation.
Jesus comes on the scene and is challenged by his disciples regarding the man’s condition. Jesus uses the challenge to demonstrate who he really is (and what God’s program really is) by restoring the blind man’s sight.
The Pharisees have their own agenda, and because it does not fit the true agenda of the Father, Jesus challenges it. God is in the business of restoring what has been broken apart, what has been damaged; the things that have begun to disintegrate and rot. God wants to restore society to what it should be from His perspective. The focus in society needs to be on God and bringing praise to him, and then the relationships with other people will be resolved and become all they are meant to be.
Some are like ‘lost sheep’. They don’t know where they are and they don’t know where the Father is; they just know they can’t help themselves. They need help from someone else. There are those like the ‘prodigal son’: they know where home is; they know the father. But they will not come to Him until they get to the end of their own devices and have come to the realization that their own way is a dead-end street. Very often they think that parents and God are hopelessly out-of-date and irrelevant to their situation and to life.
Peter the apostle was like that. Like a rebellious two-year old, his attitude was, I do it self, until Jesus showed him up at the trial. Can you imagine the look on Jesus’ face when Peter SAW Jesus? We know Peter was filled with remorse. But in the end Jesus has a word for him. Look at John 21:15-19: “Feed my lambs; take care of my sheep; feed my sheep.” Peter couldn’t respond to the way Jesus asked him, because Jesus asked, “Do you truly love me?” [Agapeo] and Peter’s reply was “You know I love you.” [Phileo]. The difference in the two Greek words represents the difference between a self-abandoning, selfless love, and a deep friendship. But notice that Jesus takes Peter from where he is, to where He knows Peter could be.
Romans 5:6-8 says that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… While we were still sinners, Christ died for us“. II Cor 5:16-21 sums it up: ” … All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ… not counting men’s sins against them. We implore you on Christ’s behalf; be reconciled to God…”
What does it take to be reconciled to God?
- Abandon your disbelief, and turn to Christ, trusting Him completely. [The Amplified Bible explains believe as– trust in, cling to, rely on. John 3:16]
- Abandon your hate and forgive others the way Christ has forgiven you– without strings attached. [Matthew 6:9, 18:21-35]
- Abandon your grudges and hurt feelings, and respond with God’s love from hearts full of gratitude for the immense amount of forgiveness he has poured out on you. [Colossians 3:12-17]
- Abandon feelings of revenge and manipulation, and set aside your own agendas and plans to sacrificially serve. [Ephesians 4:30-5:2]
Look at the contrast between Judas and Peter– both had disappointed Jesus, both had failed in following through on their commitment to Him. One went out and committed suicide because he couldn’t face it; the other wept and came for forgiveness.
II Peter 3:9 says, “He is not slow…but patient…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Will you allow God to reconcile you to Himself? For more information, go here.