Our Lenten Devotion for Wednesday, March 30, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8a NIV
“A Lavish Gift”
“Forgiveness is the great divine gift offered to us by Jesus. It is not a human possibility to forgive sins. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21), Jesus’ critics rightly ask. Wherever Jesus goes he offers this divine forgiveness. He even offers it to those who kill him. It is for the forgiveness of sins that he pours out his blood on the cross (Matthew 26:28) and that he sends forth his disciples into the world.”
(from Peacework by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 103Henri)
What an extraordinary, extravagant gift! It is a gift that cannot be given apart from Christ. For God alone can forgive sins. Only Jesus Christ, true God and true man, could redeem us from our slavery to sin by the shedding of his blood, which he poured out for us all humanity on the cross. Having been washed in forgiveness through our baptism into Christ, our Lord sends us forth each day into our love starved world. He empowers us to share his lavish love and forgiveness, not only with our friends and fellow believers, but even with those who have been hurtful or hateful to us. That can be as hard as nails. But if Jesus could forgive those who nailed him to the cross, we can, by God’s grace, forgive others as God has forgiven us – unconditionally, with no strings attached.
Forgiveness is undoubtedly one of the most difficult practices of our faith. So, it follows that it is only through God in Christ that we can forgive others who have hurt us or treated us badly in some way. So, we are called to lean on God’s and love and forgiveness to empower our forgiveness of others.
Forgiving Lord, enable us by your grace to forgive others as lavishly as you have forgiven us. Amen.