Today is Ash Wednesday, the first Day of Lent. Lent is the season of the church year where we focus upon Christ's suffering and death, and we focus upon our sin. We are all sinful, we are all in need of forgiveness, we are all in need of salvation. This period lasts from today until Easter. And, I encourage you to in this time reflect upon the areas of your life that are in need of redemption and conversion, the areas that we withhold from God, the areas in life that we need to repent of. For Christ suffered and died for our sins. Will we take that work for granted? Or will we allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives bringing about growth, repentance, and conversion.
Old Testament Lesson
We see the people of Nineveh repent, and then we see something surprising. Jonah is upset by that. He doesn't want God to have mercy on them. He wants God to bring judgment for their sins. And, of course, God says He will have mercy on who He has mercy.
I think we are often like Jonah. We want mercy for ourselves, and judgment for other. When we sin, we have excuses. When others sin, they deserve punishment. God longs to have mercy on all that are in need. And, if we look in the Word, the only group that does not receive mercy are those that will not ask. We are all in need of mercy and forgiveness. We are all in need of God's grace. We are all in need of repentance. No one can stand before God based on their own worth. We can stand only on the blood and work of Jesus.
Today, will be be like Nineveh and repent, or will we think that we have no need for that.
New Testament Lesson
We see what Jesus endured for our sake. We see the suffering and death and blood. All for us. He took the cross. For us. He suffered the shame. All for us. He was beaten, bruised, spit upon, mocked, insulted and nailed to a cross. All for us. He did this willing. For us.
And, we don't come to church because we are tired. We don't witness because we are ashamed. We don't pray because we don't have time. While Jesus never said a word, we are full of excuses.
We see that the tax collector was justified not based off his worth, but off the fact that knew he needed mercy. We often think that we are stronger than we really are. Or, we think, I'm bad, but I'm not as bad as "so and so." We cannot compare ourselves to others, we can only know that we are in need. We are like the tax collector, and all we can do is say, Lord have mercy.