God's Messiah - Rev. Deacon Chris
The Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) are filled with prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. For Jesus himself, the Hebrew Scriptures were the key by which he understood his vocation as Israel’s Messiah.
It is believed that there is as many as 456 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah. And it is believed that Jesus fulfilled 324 of those prophecies during his first coming. As Christians, we believe that he will fulfill the remainder of these prophecies when he returns (His second coming).
There is no other individual who has ever come a close second, as the possible Messiah. Jesus is the only option. God has left no other alternative.
The two prophecies that were discussed during the Sunday sermon were Psalm 2 and Daniel 9: 24-27: For the blog this week, I will expand a little more on these two prophecies.
1. Psalm 2 – The Messiah would be called God’s Son
Psalm 2 speaks of the nations of the world plotting against both God himself and his “Anointed.” Originally, this referred to the Davidic king, but the scope of what is described here, as well as later Jewish tradition, understood this to be referring to the Messiah, God’s Ultimate “Anointed.”
In verse 7, God specifically calls the Anointed “My Son” and promises his worldwide rule in the face of the laughable opposition of the nations who counsel rebellion against God. The New Testament refers in numerous places to the ideas in this psalm, Jesus as God’s Son and the Opposition to God and his Messiah.
In the Hebrew Bible, “son of God” is used about angels (Job 1:6), about the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:22-23), and about Israel’s king (2 Samuel 7:14). In the New Testament, when Jesus is called “Son of God” or “God’s Son,” it implies: (1) he is the Messianic king; (2) he has a personal intimacy with the Father, whom he addressed as Abba; (3) he obeyed the Father, and especially; (4) his sonship is unique, unlike any other. For example, Jesus regularly speaks of “your Father” and “my Father” – but never “our Father” (Matthew 6:9 refers to what the disciples as a group are meant to pray; Jesus does not include himself in that group).
It should be pointed out, that the title “Son of Man” which Jesus frequently uses for himself implies his divinity. That title comes from Daniel 7:13, which speaks of a heavenly figure. The title “Son of God” on the other hand points to Jesus as the unique Messianic king. Who enjoys a special intimacy with God the Father, whose life is characterized by obedience to God, and whose career was marked by opposition, exactly like the Son of Psalm 2.
2. Daniel 9: 24-27 – The Messiah would come according to a timetable.
The prophet Daniel was a student of the Hebrew scriptures and had been studying the book of Jeremiah, where he had read that the Babylonian exile was to last 70 years. As those 70 years were drawing to a close, Daniel began to pray and fast both for himself and for his nation, that God would forgive them and bring them back to Israel (see Daniel 9:1-3). The bulk of chapter nine then gives us Daniel’s heartfelt prayer.
As he prayed, the angel Gabriel appeared to him to bring an announcement: Gabriel tells Daniel not about the 70 years of captivity (which Daniel knew were coming to an end) but about “seventy sevens,” or a period of 490 years, climaxing not merely in the return from Babylon but rather the beginning of the messianic age.
Firstly, the “seventy weeks” (literally, “seventy sevens,” understood by almost everyone to mean seventy seven-year periods or 490 years) begin with “the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.” Commentators have drilled down to the details and dated “the word” at various times in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. In any event, the walls of Jerusalem began to be rebuilt about 457 B.C.
Second, after sixty-nine weeks, Jerusalem and its Temple are destroyed: “The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” After the seventieth week too, we are still talking about desolation and destruction of the Temple: “On the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Therefore, the 490 years begin with the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. and take us to the era of the Temple’s destruction which occurred in A.D. 70.
Third, “an anointed one” is mentioned twice. Translations vary: if the punctuation is translated one way, we have two anointed ones, one coming after seven weeks (49 years) and another one – who is killed – after an additional 62 weeks (434 years). If the punctuation is translated a different way, we have only one anointed person, who comes after seven and sixty-two weeks (483 years). A great deal of ink has been spilled over figuring out the best way to translate this, but in the end, the key point is: given the total of 490 years, an anointed one will be killed not long before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.
According to this interpretation of this prophecy from Daniel – there was a short window of time that the Messiah was to come, and Jesus arrived at that time. Daniel 9:24-27 points us to that very designated time, in the first century AD, when the Messiah came among humanity as our atoning sacrifice.
These two prophecies help to reinforce the belief that only Jesus could have been the Messiah (Christ) promised in the Old Testament.
The God We Worship by Rev. Kim Salo
This blog is based on my sermon preached on March 19, titled "The God We Worship". The Bible passage I used is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, John 4: 7-26.
1. Read John 4:7-9. There are lots of ethnic or racial or religious divisions around us. Do you have a no-go place in your life, a Samaria you’ve been told to stay away from? Can you remember a time when you went to a “Samaria”? How did it go?
2. Read John 4:10-19. Jesus knows details about her personal life. How comfortable are you with Jesus knowing every detail of your life? What does Jesus mean by “giving us living water”?
3. Read John 4:20-26. Why does the woman change the subject to her religion and Jesus’ religion? What does Jesus think is the right kind of religion? What does Jesus mean by “worship the Father in Spirit and in truth”?
4. Read John 4:27-38. Why do you suppose Jesus chose the woman at the well to reveal himself to for the first time in Samaria?
5. When do you most feel that you are worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth?
6. Name one thing you are thirsting for in your relationship with Christ.
March 12th – Les Kovacs
Thank you so much for your questions this week. I am touched by the depth of your interest and the excellent questions generated in response to my last talk. I have chosen to respond to one of these questions because it landed close to my heart.
At one point in my sermon, I talked about submitting to God as a way of walking in His wisdom, and one of your questions asked how we can submit to God during especially hard times. This question really struck a chord with me because I too struggled with this issue a number of years ago when I hit a very rough patch in my life. I won’t go into the gory details, but it was without doubt the lowest point in my life, and I wondered how I would possibly be able to go on. I had suffered a deep emotional loss; I made some regrettable-in-hindsight decisions; and I felt deserted by some people I had really counted on. Fortunately, those who really were the closest to me, my immediate family and my true brothers and sisters, helped me regain my emotional equilibrium, and strengthened my reliance on God.
When we’ve been wounded deeply, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, our natural tendency is to withdraw. Like when we touch a hot stove, and we reflexively pull our hand away. When we hurt and want to protect ourselves from further harm, we pull back into a defensive posture. We withdraw from our family, our friends, and even from God. Yet that is exactly when we need them, and especially Him, the most. That is when we need His love, forgiveness, and compassion the most. When we are unable to carry on in our own strength, and we place our faith in Him, He can carry us through the difficult circumstances and deliver us safely on the other side. I know that because I have felt Him carry me.
And there are some practical ways for us to reach out to Him in our time of need. These are some of the supports that helped me:
Prayer and seeking God's guidance. Prayer is a powerful way to us connect with God and seek His guidance during difficult times. Take time to talk with God and ask for His strength and guidance, and the wisdom to accept His will. Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Find comfort in scripture. Reading the Bible can provide comfort and guidance during difficult times. Scripture reminds us of God's love, His promises, and His plan for our lives. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Trust in God's plan. Remember that God is in control and that He has a plan for your life. Sometimes it is difficult to see the bigger picture, but trusting in God's plan can help you find peace and comfort. Trust in His wisdom and accept that He knows what is best for you. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Let go of control. Letting go of control and surrendering to God's will can be very difficult, but necessary. Let go of your fears and worries and surrender them to God. Accept that we cannot control everything in our lives, and it is essential to remain patient and have faith in His ultimate goodness and mercy. Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.“
Practice gratitude. Despite the challenges you are facing, try to find things to be grateful for. Focusing on the blessings in our lives can help shift our perspective and bring a sense of gratitude. Focusing on the positives in your life can help bring you closer to God, and acknowledging His goodness and faithfulness can also help us grow our trust in His plan for our lives. Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Seek support. Don't be afraid to reach out to family members, friends, and your spiritual brothers and sisters for support. Surround yourself with people who love you and will uplift and encourage you. There is wisdom in the council of many, particularly if they are your Christian family. God placed them in your life for a reason.
Submitting to God's will during difficult times can be a daunting challenge, but it can also be a source of comfort and strength. It means trusting in His goodness and seeking His guidance and support to help you through it. Remember, He loves you and will never desert you.
Questions for you. Are you afraid to intentionally submit to God when you find yourself in one of life’s big messes? If so, what’s holding you back?
Praise be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!
Text: Luke 10: 21-24
On Sunday we looked at Luke 10: 21-24, and two main points were discussed:
So, it is Openness to God that is the true virtue – whether we are learned or not. God delights to reveal himself to those who are willing to open their lives and hearts to him. The example shared on Sunday was that of Eta Linnemann.
You can read Eta Linnemann’s testimony here:
Eta Linnemann's testimonny
2. Jesus is the source of Revelation (verse 22).
Jesus is the source of revelation today because only God knows God, here as Father and Son. And because only God truly knows God, this knowledge makes him the sovereign, sole dispenser of revelation. What is our heavenly Father like? Well, exactly as Jesus revealed him. Jesus is the sovereign dispenser of the knowledge of God the Father to “anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
The Father is revealed in the Son through the Spirit to us.
So, when unbelievers/sceptics tell us they cannot see the beauty and truth of the gospel, we should not be surprised or personally offended in the slightest. The Word of God radiates light, but it cannot be seen unless a person’s eye is first opened by God.
For those of us that can see and hear – we are blessed. Praise God!
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Verses 23-24)
Currently in the United States, there is an outpouring of the Spirit that began at a small Christian University (Asbury). God is currently revealing himself to many of the Gen Z age group through this revival. Below is a video that looks at this revival, from a Canadian perspective.
The Shepherd God
During our All Ages service on Feb. 26th we discussed The Shepherd God as well as the beginning of Lent. It was a brief homily with our children sitting at the front, focusing mainly on our Gospel reading of the day, John 10:1-5, 11-18. Special emphasis was given to John 10:3 in which Jesus declares that He calls His sheep by name, and they listen to Him because they know His voice. Tying this all together with Lent was the lesson that we ought to use this time before Easter to rid ourselves of that which distracts us from the voice of our Shepherd.
There was obviously much, much more to be said on any one of these verses, so thanks to this blog I am able to expand a little more!
Q: What are the jobs that Jesus does as our Shepherd?
A: Thank you, anonymous submission! This was a big area I was tempted to get into on Sunday and I am grateful for the question. When we think of God as our Shepherd, we may naturally turn to Psalm 23 to read about the way He tends His flock; specifically the first 3 verses in which He:
We read on from there that He watches over us even in places of darkness and death, promises us His comfort and protection and glorification in front of those who oppose Him, lavishing His blessings upon us and securing us a room in His house for all eternity.
This Psalm has so much that we can unpack, however I’ll leave that part to you, your small groups, and personal meditation and continue on – for this is a wonderful picture of our Shepherd God, but by no means is it comprehensive. All of scripture teaches us of our God as our Shepherd and how He looks after His sheep! Let us turn to John 10 and continue our search for His hand in our lives.
Right off the hop we can note a few things about this lowly flock of sheep. I’ll list a few of the first I note and follow them up with a question for your own considerations. I would encourage you to take some time and go through this chapter verse by verse and consider their implications, what is said or unsaid, and explore for yourself the ways in which God has revealed Himself as our Good Shepherd:
There is a vast amount of symbolism here and the time it would take to properly unpack this would take me beyond the scope of this blog. For now, I pray I’ve given a bit more of an understanding of God as our Shepherd as well as a helpful direction in which to take your study! Let me close by saying that I absolutely love this parable; the fact that little ol’ me has been welcomed into the fold of God’s flock, that He knows my name and cares for me is absolutely staggering.
We are more than likely going to lose our wonder and awe at this fact, so Jesus’s words in John 10 (well, all of them to be honest) need to be mediated upon and taken to heart. Not only will we become more secure in Him as our full and total identity, but we’ll become more and more sensitive to hearing His voice!
Lord Jesus, thank you for your humility and sacrifice. Thank you for emptying yourself, laying aside your glory and coming to this broken world. Thank you for laying down your life on the cross, the names of all your wayward sheep written on your heart. Thank you for calling us by name and teaching us to follow you. We want more of your presence and less of our own selves. Please teach us to deny ourselves this day and to follow you. Help us hate the sin to which we cling, not just in this Lenten season but forever. Most of all Lord, refresh us today with your joy, the joy in knowing our God knows our name and we know His! Let us sing and dance today, like a lamb in the safety of the fold, knowing all things are secure in you. Amen
"The Warrior God" by Rev. Susan Salo
Text: Rev. 19:11-16
It is important to know and understand the underpinnings of our faith because one of the primary ways the enemy works is to cause us to doubt. The trinitarian nature of our God is one of those foundational doctrines that has been attacked by heresies throughout the church's history. In this section of teaching we are looking primarily at God the Father, although it must be understood that we cannot separate the members of the Trinity because they are so intertwined that when we speak of the Father as the Warrior God we know that Jesus won the battle for our redemption on the cross. The Holy Spirit hovered over the water during creation and came upon Jesus at his baptism empowered him to endure till the end. They are Three in One. One God.
Q. What are the names of Jesus listed in Rev. 19:11-16?
There is a sword pictured in V.15. In Greek, the word used for this sword is "Romphia." This is one of the long swords used in ancient warfare. The sword mentioned in Ephesians 4 is the short sword, the "Machairan," typically used for defense. In the vision described in this passage, this sword is being used to 'strike down the nations'.
Q. In your opinion, what does this sword represent?
A. God's authority?
C. The blood of the Lamb?
E. All of the above?
F. Or .....?
Q. Why do you think it fitting that Christ has a name known only to himself (V.12)? What mystery about Christ are you looking forward to understanding in heaven?
Q. What hopes and fears does this triumphant picture bring out in you? How has Jesus been your deliverer this past year?
"The Law Giving God" by Rev. Kim Salo
This blog is based on my sermon preached on February 12, titled The Law Giving God (please click here if you would like to read the sermon notes). I incorporated a couple of written questions from the question box.
"Our Covenant God" by Lynne McCarthy
A couple of questions from Sunday; thank you to those who wrote.
1. How do I become part of God’s covenant?
Remembering that God initiates covenant and not we, from the Noahic to the New Covenant faith is the basis for becoming part of God’s covenantal care for us. As we desire to believe or increase our faith in Him, He welcomes us into His covenant of love, renewing us daily, growing us into Him without our even realizing it (read the parable in Mk 4:26-29, or the Mustard Seed in Mt 17:31).
We know we are part of God’s new covenant of love as we partake of the Eucharist in company with our brothers and sisters in the faith. The bread and wine are the signs of Christ’s sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood. We receive the bread and wine, by faith, to remember His sacrifice that forgives our sins.
The next question/s are too vast to answer in a brief blog, so here are some useful internet sites.
2. If all members of the Trinity share the attributes of deity, what is the significance of differentiating the individuals? Is it to recognize their role or distinct action? If so, how does this not divide the Trinity, nor diminish the deity which they share?
The Reformed viewpoint: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/two-reasons-trinity-matters/
The Catholic viewpoint: https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/the-best-guide-for-understanding-the-trinity/#:~:text=In%20the%20New%20Testament%2C%20the,it%20speaks%20of%20the%20Trinity.
The Anglican viewpoint: The “39 Articles of Religion” are found in the Book of Common Prayer (in the pews on the chapel side). Article 1 addresses faith and the Trinity.
The Orthodox viewpoint: https://www.oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/doctrine-scripture/the-holy-trinity/the-doctrine-of-the-holy-trinity
At base, we have to leave aside our Enlightenment dependence on rational explanations, and take on the attitude that Trinity is, ultimately, a mystery of God, revealed when Christ returns.
Brief summaries of the main covenants, including the Edenic Covenant:
1. Edenic: Between God and His first humans.
- Have dominion over Creation, care for it.
- All tree fruits for them except Tree of Knowledge.
- Disobedience = consequences for all of Creation until Christ returns.
Sign: clothing Promise: a Redeemer.
Our part? A new discipline to care for the world around us, to change how we take Creation for granted. How do we care for what He has given us?
2. Noahic: Between God and righteous Noah.
- Righteous Noah and his family saved from a destroying flood.
- Obediently builds an ark despite mockery.
- Offers sacrifice when God restores the earth.
Sign: rainbow Promise: God will never again destroy the earth.
Our part? To pray God’s continuing restraint of evil in this world (and our city, as we prayed last month) and not stop. How does this covenant continue in our world and lives?
3. Abrahamic: Between God and Abraham.
- Went where God commanded.
- Believed God would fulfill His promises.
Signs: circumcision; a son Promise: generations under God’s care; land
Our part? To show God to the world in our words and actions. When our plans don’t work, we trust God for His, then listen prayerfully to His new instructions. What of our plans or attitudes might need alteration? How will we do this?
4. Mosaic: Between God and Israel, Moses as mediator.
Israel initially agreed to keep God’s Law.
- Constantly deviated from their agreement.
- God brings them out of slavery into Promised Land.
Sign: the Law, 10 Commandments. Promise: become a great nation
Our part? Continued obedience to God’s law, embodied in Jesus by love. The intricacies of the written law were summed up twice, in Deuteronomy and by Jesus Himself: Love God above all, and your neighbour as yourself. What ‘laws’ are you trying to follow? How do we learn to trust God?
5. Davidic: Between God and David.
God will build a ‘house’ for David.
- Someone from his line will always sit on that throne.
- Culminated in Jesus’ coming as Son of David, Son of God.
Sign: kings in David’s line. Promise: someone of David’s line will always be on the throne, i.e., Jesus.
Our part? To remember that Jesus is the Son of God, our great and glorious King who loves us. The Psalms reinforce this revelation. Which Psalms speak to you deeply about who God is?
6. New Covenant: Between God and His believing people.
- A new covenant of God’s forgiveness for the people’s sins.
- Fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- All who believe are under this covenant.
Signs: faith; baptism in the name of the Trinity. Promise: our adoption into God's forever family, the Church.
Our part in this ongoing covenant? To love God with all our hearts, to forgive others with all our will, to love others as God loves us. Tell others that this is made possible by Jesus’ loving sacrifice. How do our Baptismal vows resemble a new covenant? How can we keep this ongoing covenant?
The Prodigal God (Rev. Chris)
I would like to thank our sister Debbie, for sharing her Real Lives talk this past Sunday. Her personal story characterized God’s love so elegantly, in a way that could connect relationally with each one of us. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your intimate story in a manner that glorified God and encouraged your brothers and sisters.
Our current focus on God the Father, set up nicely for a Real Lives service about the Father’s love. A love the is boundless and unmeasured, yet so personal and transformative. Our hope was that this service would be a “heart” service, and a time of worship in which we would all come to know our Heavenly Father’s heart more intimately.
Read Luke 15: 11-32
The parable of the Prodigal Son is loaded with content. But if we were to take only one thing away from this parable, I would suggest that one thing should be the overwhelming love that the father has for his two sons. One powerful sentence tells the whole story: “And he arose and came to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (v. 20).
Though the younger son was covered in dirty rags, the father immediately felt compassion when he saw his son. That is, he was so overcome that he had an immediate reaction, and he “ran” (a very undignified thing for the old man at that time), and literally embraced him and kissed him again and again and again.
The younger son had distanced himself (in a distant country) from his father due to sins of passion. However, the elder son who was still in the physical vicinity of his father, had separated himself due to his sins of attitude. Rather than celebrating his younger brother’s return, he became angry. He even refused to celebrate, despite his father’s encouragement to come and “join in” with the celebration.
Self-righteous, the older son overstated his performance: “Look, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command” (v. 29). Never? Really? Sinless? Hmm. He was so convinced of his own goodness that he had built up barriers that prevented himself from loving his brother and that also hindered intimacy and fellowship with his father.
This parable is meant to give us all hope. Whether we are struggling today in ways that are more relatable to the younger son or the older son, we are to be greatly encouraged. This parable is about our Prodigal God – the lavishly loving God. If we are in a far away country because of our sins of passion, God is scanning the horizon waiting for us. If we have distanced ourselves like the older brother with our sins of attitude, our heavenly Father reminds us that he is always with us and all that he has is ours. When we understand our true condition, it helps us see how wonderful our God is, and how incredible his unrelenting love is for each one of us.
1. Which son do you currently relate with?
2. What behaviors/traits do you have in common with that son?
3. Do you have a personal relationship with God the Father?
4. What barriers are currently in place that are preventing you from accepting our Heavenly Father’s love for you? Who is ultimately responsible for those barriers being in place?
5. What will you do to prevent these barriers from remaining in place?
6. Are you ready to fully embrace your Heavenly Father’s love for you?
Below is the corporate prayer that we prayed together last Sunday during the service. Let us now pray this again privately in our hearts.
Prayer for the Father’s Love
Heavenly Father, you have loved us with unconditional love, and we thank you for this love lavished upon us. We confess that it is difficult at times to accept and believe that you love us so much. You allow us our own wants and we have gone our own way and rejected your will for our lives. Yet you patiently wait for us, trusting us to come back. You are mighty and powerful, but before us, you lower down to us yearning for our hearts. We are so important to you, and we ask now for your help to accept your mercy and grace. We thank you for your amazing love, for each one of us. Help us accept your love with our whole beings and to be confident of this because we are your children. For the sake of your Son who died for us, forgive us, cleanse us, and change us. By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you, and to please you in every way; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God the Creator
January 25th – Les Kovacs
It is very encouraging to see how well our invitation was received by our parish members to submit their questions to the Sunday preacher. We’ve received several excellent questions this week, too many to answer all of them. I’ve picked three and hope the answers below will be helpful to you.
Question 1: Can you suggest a simple and suitable explanation of the Trinity for a "baby" Christian?
The short answer is that there is no simple explanation for the Holy Trinity that would provide the full answer. It is also true, however, there is also no long explanation that would be able to provide the full answer, either. The complexity of the infinite God simply cannot be fully grasped by our finite human ability to understand. This is not an attempt to evade the question. Whenever we think that we have fully understood our God, we have actually put Him into a box defined by our own limited imaginations, and He is so much more than we can imagine.
At various times people have tried to use different analogies to help explain the Trinity. For example: He is like water which can exist as ice, liquid and steam. Or He is like a man who is a father, a son and an uncle. Or He is like a three-leaf clover with three different, identifiable leaves. These analogies come close, but none of them adequately describe the Trinity.
- Water can exist as ice, liquid or steam but not at the same time, whereas the Father existed in heaven at the same time as Jesus existed on earth.
- A man can be a father, a son and an uncle, but he is still only one man, but Scripture is clear that God the Father is distinct from God the Son, and they are both distinct from God the Holy Spirit, yet they are all One.
- The clover may be three segments within the one leaf, but each leaf is not a full expression of the whole. Yet the Bible tells us that God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are each fully God, not just a part of God.
In the introduction to my sermon, I said that the mystery of the Triune God is one of the most important truths of scripture. However much we may study God, there will always be some aspect of Him that will remain a mystery to us. Until we are with Him in eternity, God will reveal Himself to us to the extent that we are able to understand. In the meanwhile, the best that we can do for the parts we don’t understand is simply to sit in the wonder and adoration of our Triune God.
Question 2: Jesus was without sin. Why didn’t He throw the first stone at the adulterous woman?
Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came offering redemption to a broken people. I used the story of the woman caught in adultery to illustrate the hope of deliverance from our sins that Jesus offers.
Jesus knew that the Pharisees had already judged the woman guilty, and they wanted to see what He would do. Although they said she was caught in adultery, they offered no proof nor brought any witnesses to her adultery, so this was an unsubstantiated accusation. It was a set-up. There was no basis in the Law for Jesus or anyone else to stone the woman, and His reply to them was a challenge. Who were they, who were still living in their own sins, to judge this woman?
Equally important to note is that Jesus did not declare her to be innocent. What He did do was to tell her to go and sin no more. Rather than condemn her, Jesus offered compassion and mercy. What we see in this story of Jesus and the adulteress is that God has provided a deliverance for us from the condemnation of death for our sins through the grace found in Jesus Christ. And with this deliverance, we are instructed to repent and turn away from our sinful ways. In this way, He has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself and participate in His new creation.
Question 3: Did Jesus absolve us of our sins throughout His life, or only on the cross?
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was sufficient atonement for all of humankind’s sins. He died for all of us. Matthew 26:27-28, “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
However, there are several instances in the Gospels of Jesus forgiving specific people of their sins during His ministry on earth. One example was when Jesus healed the paralytic man in Matthew 9:1-8. When the man was brought to Jesus for healing, Jesus said to him, ““Cheer up, friend! Your sins are forgiven.” This didn’t sit well with the religious leaders who felt He was blaspheming God by claiming to forgive sins, to which He replied that the authority to forgive sins on earth had been given to Him. As proof, He commanded the man to pick up his stretcher and go home, which of course he did.
Another example is found in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus was at the house of Simon, a Pharisee, when a “sinful” woman began washing Jesus’ feet with perfume. When Simon began to think ill of her, Jesus told him the parable of two people who owed money to a moneylender. When neither of them could repay the money, the moneylender forgave them their debts. Jesus then asked Simon which of the two borrowers would love the moneylender more, and Simon correctly answered the one who had owed the larger sum. Jesus then compared the hospitality He had received from Simon (very little) versus the attention paid to Him by the woman (a great deal). He then turned to the woman and said, “Your sins are forgiven”, followed by, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In both these instances, it was the faith of the people in Jesus which had prompted Him to forgive their sins.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the key to forgiveness. That is true of the people He forgave while He was still on earth, and it is true today. Only those who accept Him as their personal Saviour will receive the gift of salvation. It is for these whom He died on the cross.
As for those who do not accept His free gift, well, I guess they’ll have an interesting meeting when He returns.
Praise be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.