The pardon that comes from God is complete.
“In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!” These are the words that follow confession. These are the words we proclaim to one another every week in worship. It is the continued witness that Christ has covered our sin. The mercy of God has been present from the beginning. Jesus made it visible for us in human form. Jesus lived God’s mercy right in front of the world for all to see. From the beginning of his ministry until the very day he took his last breath on the cross – Jesus was pardoning and forgiving and pouring out the mercy of God.
The forgiveness of God is complete. “It is finished” are the last words Jesus utters at his crucifixion. When we encounter him again – he is free; resurrected and fully alive!
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
– Isaiah 55:6-8
The mercy of God is the thread of love that is written throughout the Scriptures. When Jesus arrives on the scene it is his mercy and forgiveness toward so many people that disrupted the order of the day. Forgiveness and pardon are radical. Forgiveness and pardon disrupt the systems of judgement and condemnation that we use to keep people in “their place.” Sometimes, including ourselves.
Jesus spent a lot of time forgiving and healing people that were sinking in the crushing weight of condemnation. He forgave rulers and servants; soldiers and dishonest tax collectors…whoever was seeking. Every facet of society was within his heart. There is no stone he cannot roll away and say, “come out!” Jesus wants to roll away our stone too. Whatever is keeping us locked up and locked down – confession brings it to the light so that it can be removed.
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
– Micah 7:18-19
It can be pretty hard to live each day believing our sins have been removed; erased by this radical love of our Creator. But time after time Jesus makes this clear. So why do we hang on so tight to our guilt and shame? Why do we rely on ourselves rather than falling fully into the arms of mercy as the grace of God takes the weight, takes the guilt and sets us on a path of peace? Perhaps it is time for us to stop this madness. Confession begins the rhythm and forgiveness is immediate; pardon is complete. We cannot earn it. It is a gift of God’s amazing grace.
Maybe we need to practice receiving this gift of forgiveness and pardon.
Holy God, thank you for hearing our confessions. Thank you for the gift of Christ who removes the weight of our sin and leads us in paths of peace. Help us to live out of your forgiveness and pardon, so that we are more ready to extend it to others. Thank you for setting us free! Amen.
If you want an encounter with Jesus to ponder as you think about forgiveness and pardon, check out this story from Matthew’s gospel. https://bit.ly/3fv3LJ7
We The Kingdom – Free Amen
Coming up next: Rhythms of Peace: Part III “Peace be with You”
The practice of Confession-Pardon-Peace helps us integrate a different rhythm into our lives; a rhythm grounded in the peace of Christ.