Pastor Kirk

Reflections from a spiritual pilgrim in Toledo, Ohio

September 2013

Hurt: The Death of Jesus, John 19:25-30, 29 September 2013

Big Idea: We are hurt, we hurt one another, and we hurt Jesus with our sin.

Introduction

Have you ever been hurt? Of course! What hurt first came to mind? Physical? Emotional?

We all hurt others. They say that hurt people hurt people. Sometimes we intentionally hurt others, sometimes it is accidental, and sometimes we don’t even know we hurt someone. Have you ever learned after the fact that you hurt someone unknowingly?

There is a difference between hurt and harm. A vaccination shot at the doctor’s office hurts, but it is not meant to harm.

Last week we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus. The physical pain and agony He suffered is hard to imagine, yet the harm done to Him was more than physical.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

It is believed by most that John is the disciple mentioned. What is noteworthy is the likelihood that John was the only one of the eleven disciples that watched Jesus die.

In many wars and conflicts, while women are free to come and go since they are not viewed as a threat and they need to maintain the household including shopping. Men, however, are vulnerable to attack, kidnapping, or even murder.

In this scene, we see women at the foot of the cross, but John, too. He was probably very young and not viewed as a serious revolutionary. He may not have even had a beard, a common feature of grown men.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. (John 19:28-29)

Here we see another Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the Messiah. In Psalm 69:21 it says

They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
(Psalm 69:21)

The symbolism in these two verses is vast.

Jesus often spoke of water. Sign one was Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into premium wine, providing for the thirst of others (John 2). Now he receives low-grade sour wine. He offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). In John 7 He invites the thirsty to come to HIm and drink (7:37).

N.T. Wright sees a series of signs in Jesus’ ministry, beginning with the first miracle during which He made wine at a wedding, revealing His glory. The second sign is the healing of the nobleman’s son at Capernaum (4:46-54). The third is the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool (5:1-9). Then He multiplied the loaves and fishes (6:1-14), healed the man born blind (9:1-12) and raised Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44).

Seven is a biblical number and Wright believes the seventh sign to reveal God’s glory is Jesus being lifted up. It is fitting then that…

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (19:30)

In the original language, this phrase means, “It’s all done!” It’s a single word that is written on a bill after it has been paid. The price has been paid. Jesus’ work is complete. It’s finished. It’s done. Jesus has accomplished His mission.

So much happened in that moment. Although I’ve focused this series on John’s Gospel, Matthew records fascinating details.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27:50-52)

Let’s go back to Jesus’ mission that He accomplished. The hurt Jesus experienced was not only physical, but profoundly spiritual. The writer of Romans tells us

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Paul is explicit in his letter to the people in the city of Corinth.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I killed Jesus.
I nailed Jesus to the cross.
It was my sin that prompted His agonizing mission.

Hurt by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails)

The sins of others hurts me.
My sin causes others to hurt.
Our sins caused Jesus to hurt.

I killed Jesus.
I nailed Jesus to the cross.
It was my sin that prompted His agonizing mission.

Reflection and Confession

It’s easy to reflect on the cross and appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus for us without acknowledging our sins that necessitated it.

Each of us has a long history of sin. Big sins, small sins, public sins, hidden sins. Sins of things we did. Sins of things we failed to do.

Sin separates us from God. Sin is deadly to relationships and sometimes even human life.

That guilt you feel…it’s probably the result of sin. The number one reason people feel guilty is because they are guilty! There is false guilt, but Romans 3:23 tells us that all of us sin and fall short of God’s glory. All of us. You. Me. Billy Graham. All of us.

This isn’t about shame, but it is about honestly assessing our lives. How have we loved or hated God? How have we loved or hated our neighbor? How have we loved or hated ourselves?

Kyrie eleison (Greek: Κύριε, ἐλέησον "Lord, have mercy"). The phrase predates Christian usage.

There’s an old prayer of the Church that says, “LORD, have mercy”

I urge you to reflect upon your sin. Confess it to God. Repent and turn away from it. Experience His love and forgiveness. That’s why He died. That’s why we call it Good Friday.

LORD, Have Mercy

John later wrote

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

That is truly Good News! Hallelujah!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

King of Love, John 19:16b-24, 22 September 2013

Big Idea: Jesus held out His arms and said, “I love you THIS much!” Does everyone know?

What is love?

This week I was talking with a friend who told me about a family that has no faith in God because they only believe in science, that which can be proven. I asked about love. Can you prove that love exists? What is it?

This is a question I return to again and again because it is used so often in our culture to describe so many different things. Frequently it is just a word used to manipulate someone into doing something, but love itself requires doing and action. Love is a verb.

Our text for today could actually be a short passage referenced months ago in the third chapter of John. It says

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

We continue our series on the Gospel or “good news” of John, a biography of Jesus written by one of His best friends. The next several weeks will address the final hours of Jesus before His burial. I must warn you that some of the content will be graphic and disturbing. Parents, be advised we have some short videos that involve the crucifixion. The suffering we have examined in the past few weeks was excruciating, but Jesus willingly experienced crucifixion, the ultimate Roman torture.

Before we look at
what Jesus did, I want to be crystal clear about why He suffered and died. He did it for you and for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

For God so loved you and me that He sent Jesus to die for us.

Centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah wrote

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5)

So begins Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, the most successful rated R movie in history, grossing over $370 million.

He was pierced, crushed, punished, and wounded…because He loves us.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
(19:16)

If you recall, Pilate desperately wanted to release Jesus as He found no reason for Him to be arrested, much less executed. Bowing to the pressure of the Jewish leaders and their threats of involving Caesar, Jesus was handed over to be crucified by the soldiers.

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). (19:17)

They took Jesus outside the city to crucify Him. This is a fascinating detail because the traditional place of Jesus’ death is now a church, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, but it is inside the city. Personally, I found it to be something of a religious freak show, a series of buildings that actually house multiple churches, religious artifacts, and a large box built in 1810, the edicule of the Holy Sepulchre that is supposed to commemorate the tomb where Jesus was buried! I found the whole thing to be very strange, dark, extremely religious (and not in a good way) and depressing. I found it a very odd way to celebrate a living Christ!

There is another site outside the city that is believe to have possibly been the location because of its name, the place of the Skull.

John tell us…

There they crucified him, and with him two others —one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (19:18)

John does not give us details of the crucifixion.

One detail found in the other Gospels (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) is Jesus quoting Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
(Psalm 22:1)

When you understand a bit about crucifixion, you quickly understand why Jesus felt forsaken. In order to understand the agony from a medical perspective, I found this video.

https://vimeo.com/20304062

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” (19-21)

It was fairly common for condemned criminals to wear signs around their necks while on their way to execution to serve warning to others.

Jesus died for all and the sign was in multiple languages, the three most understood at the time. For God so loved the world. Even the declaration of Jesus’ Kingship was announced to all.

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
(22)

Pilate infuriated the chief priests. He probably doesn’t believe Jesus is a king any more than they do, but he makes fun of them, a “calculated snub,” in the words of scholar N.T. Wright. Regardless, the words were true. Jesus is Israel’s Messiah and He died for every man, woman and child from every nation, tribe and tongue.

May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
(Psalm 72:8)

May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.

For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
(Psalm 72:11-14)

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures had to see the promised Messiah, yet it was the most religious that had Jesus arrested and crucified.

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. (23)

“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
(24)

Indeed Psalm 22, which we mentioned earlier, continues

Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
(Psalm 22:16-18)

So this is what the soldiers did. (24b)

So What?

I struggled to prepare this message because it involved many disturbing images and accounts. At times, I found myself getting sick when I thought about the agony involved in crucifixion…but it was all part of Jesus’ ambition and plan to seek and save the lost, to offer hope to the hopeless, to offer forgiveness to us sinners, to offer reconciliation between us and our heaven Father we have rejected.

This is a love story. This is passion.

Have your received His love?
Have you shared His love?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

No King But Caesar, John 19:8-16a, 15 September 2013

Big Idea: Who is your king?

Introduction

Why are you? I didn’t ask who you are, but why are you who you are. Why did you become the person you are today, or put another way, how are you? I don’t mean how are you doing, but how did you become the person you are today.

Why are you?
How are you?

A more conventional question might be who and what has made the greatest impact on your life? We are the product of people and experiences that have shaped us. Perhaps you love sports because your dad loves sports. Maybe you joined the military after being moved by a movie or a book. Some of you have devoted great resources to care for those in need because of the example of a mentor or friend. When you think of who you are, why and how are you you?

These questions are almost irrelevant in many parts of the world. Freedoms are scarce. Occupations are given rather than chosen.

In our culture, however, we make hundreds or even thousands of choices each day about what to wear, how to spend our time, what kind of toothpaste to buy, what music to listen to, and what sources of information we will consume.

Some choices are easy.

Pizza or tacos?
iPhone or Android?
Coke or Pepsi?
Michigan or Ohio State?

What is the most difficult choice you have ever made? Why? How do you decide?

Last week we looked at Pontius Pilate and his inability to find guilt in Jesus despite the cries of the Jewish leaders who shouted for His crucifixion.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:4-5)

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
(19:6)

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (19:7)

This brings us to today’s text.

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (19:8-10)

Notice Pilate’s fear. It has grown. He is beginning to panic. He is looking for any possible to way to decree a “not guilty” verdict and asks Jesus for help. He knows an innocent man stands before him, and a special man at that.

Jesus answered,
“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (19:11)

Jesus uses this opportunity to teach about God’s providence! He doesn’t even discount Pilate’s authority, but refers to its source.

There are different types and severity of sin.

Pilate is again trying to release Jesus.

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (19:12)

The Jewish leaders were going to report Pilate to Rome. Pilate is a politician, through and through. Power is dangerous.

The Jewish leaders used threats to Caesar as their last resort, their secret weapon.

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
(19:13-14)

Jesus is being delivered into the hands of religious and political sinners.

The cross was a mercy seat where God could reach down and save sinners.

The cross was a sacrifice for Jesus, an offering for sin, an act of obedience.

The cross was a substitution for us as Jesus took our place.

The cross was a triumph for satan (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately a defeat.

The cross was a brutal murder to the world.

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

He continues to question their judgment.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
(19:15)

Notice these are the religious leaders declaring their devotion to a human leader. They fail to recognize God in their midst, the Messiah they had been anticipating for generations.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (19:16)

The oldest creed of the Church says that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He chose Caesar. The people chose Caesar.

Who do you choose?

Who is your king?

It may seem like a silly question since we have no king in our nation, no Caesar, no Pilate. Not even the most ardent supporter of a president or governor would call them king or lord or offer the allegiance afforded a king. We know the right answer on Sunday morning is “Jesus.”

But who do you really serve? Who is your God, your king? Who influences you? Whose voice do you hear? The world is loud. It screams that it’s all about you, your pleasure, your power, and your stuff. Phone companies have realized two years is too long to wait for a new cell phone. Your house is too small. You need more Facebook friends and Twitter followers. If it feels good, do it. He who dies with the most toys wins. Everything is relative. Don’t judge. We’re all supposed to be happy. As long as it doesn’t hurt someone, do whatever you want.

Despite our culture’s journey away from the Bible, many know the Ten Commandments, or at least some of them. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t lie.

What is the first and greatest commandment?

You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

No other kings. No greater influences. No higher allegiances.

Who is your king? Prove it with your life.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Here's The Man! John 19:1-7, 8 September 2013

Big Idea: Jesus is the ultimate man, the ideal human.

Introduction

We have been looking at the life of Jesus through the lens of John, one of His best friends. We are in the nineteenth chapter of his Gospel or “good news.” We will spend five weeks in this chapter exploring the final hours of His pre-resurrected life.

Last week Jonathan Hurshman taught on Jesus’ first encounter with Pilate in chapter eighteen. The Jewish leaders bring Jesus to the Roman governor’s palace and…

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” (18:31)

Later, Pilate asks

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” (18:38-39)

They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. (18:40)

Pilate wants to punt. Clearly Jesus is no threat to his authority and wants the Jewish leaders to go away and leave him alone. Hoping to satisfy them

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. (19:1)

There were three types of flogging done by the Romans.

  • the fustigatio, a beating that served as a warning for smaller offenses
  • the flagellatio, a more brutal punishment for more serious crimes
  • the verberatio, the most heinous punishment

This flogging is believed to be the first and least severe punishment. Pilate sees nothing wrong with Jesus and wants to pacify the Jewish leaders.

Flogging was typically done with a whip of several strips of leather with bone and lead imbedded. The Jews had a limit of forty lashes, though they usually did thirty-nine in case of a miscount. The Romans, however, had no limit and their flogging often resulted in death.

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. (19:2a)

The crown of thorns was possibly taken from a Sayla Tree with long, thick spikes, not small thorns from a rose stem. The thorns would not only cause bleeding, they would distort a person’s face as they sunk into the victim’s skull.

In Genesis 22, a ram’s head was caught in a thornbush and was offered up instead of Isaac as a sacrifice, a moving parallel to Jesus’ crown of thorns as He becomes our sacrifice.

They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (19:3)

Purple dye was rare and expensive, usually drawn from shellfish. It signified royalty. Note they repeatedly mocked Him, again and again.

If His body was not in enough agony, the emotional abuse He took was unimaginable. They say that sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you. What a lie! Words are sometimes more powerful and painful than sticks and stones. Jesus is experiencing it all, and He’s totally innocent…and He
is the King of the Jews. He is being mocked with the truth.

He did it all for you and for me.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” (19:4)

Again, Pilate says, “Not guilty.”

Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:5)

His intent was likely, “Look at the poor man? How can he be a threat to the government or anyone, for that matter?”

John repeatedly shows the humanity of Jesus and this is another example. Here is the man. Jesus is the man. He is the Son of man. He is the ideal man. He is the ultimate example of what it means to be human.

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”


But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” (19:6)
Pilate offers a third “not guilty” verdict (see also Luke 24:4, 14,22). He is sarcastic in his response for he knew the Jews lacked the authority to crucify but he was desperate to get them out of his sight. He just wants the whole situation to go away.

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (19:7)

Leviticus 24:15-16 states blasphemy as a capital offense.

Who is the real man in this account? Is it Pilate with power and authority or the humble Jesus who actually possessed all authority? Is it the politically correct, people-pleasing Pilate or the Biblically correct, God-pleasing Jesus? Which best describes your life?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Denials, John 18:15-27, 25 August 2013

Big Idea: We are all capable of heinous acts, but by the grace of God.

The biography of Jesus by His close friend, John, brings us to the final hours of the life of Christ before the crucifixion. Last week we studied the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now the focus will include Peter.

Peter

Peter is one of the dominant figures in the Gospels, the good news accounts of Jesus. Jesus’ inner circle consisted of John, James, and Peter. Simon Peter was a fisherman who walked with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. He was never shy about speaking his mind or expressing his emotions as he did in last week’s text by cutting the ear off a slave in the midst of Jesus’ arrest. We are about to see another famous—or infamous— episode featuring Peter.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
(15-16)

Who is “the other disciple?” John. He got Peter a backstage pass!

It was early in the morning. There was a fire. It is dark (remember, this is before electricity!). The servant girl recognized Peter as being from Galilee.

“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”
(17)

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. (18)

Now the scene shifts from Peter to Jesus.

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. (19)

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” (20-21)

Jesus was asking why they questioned His public ministry.

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

The violence has begun. Actually, it began in the garden with Peter cutting off the ear of Malchus.

What would you do if someone slapped you in the face? Notice what Jesus does. He is under complete control. In the midst of injustice, He is calm and non-violent. What a powerful example for us when we were mistreated or persecuted.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (23-24)

No trial is to begin or end at night. They are breaking their own law. Since Caiaphas is not presiding here, this is more like a police interrogation than an actual trial. Annas is here as a witness in case Jesus does say something incriminating.

The probing of Jesus by Annas is obviously unsuccessful which is why He is sent to Caiaphas.

Now we go back to Peter.


Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” (25)

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. (26-27)

I doubt Peter ever heard a sound as horrifying as that rooster, between 3 and 5 in the morning. If you recall, several chapters ago Jesus predicted this very event.

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:38)

Jesus stands up to those that question Him and denies nothing.

Peter cowers in the face of those that question him and denies everything.

Jesus tells the truth. Peter tells lies.

So What?

Can you imagine denying Jesus? Can you imagine denying Him three times?

It’s easy to criticize Peter for abandoning his best friend during His hour of greatest need. What was he thinking?

I’ve had similar thoughts about Adam and Eve. One rule! One, simple rule! Avoid one tree’s fruit! When I was a child, my least-favorite chore was pulling weeds. On hot, summer days while my friends were playing or swimming I would silently curse Adam and Eve for their sin that resulted in weeds I had to pull!

But I would do the same thing.

Sin is common to all of us. We are born with it. Contrary to some naive authors, children are not born good. That’s why their first word is usually, “No!”

We all sin. Listen to what the writer of the Gospel of John said later…

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

This is why we need grace. This is why Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and killed…in order to offer us forgiveness and grace, unmerited favor.

Maybe you think you’ve screwed up, big time. You’re in good company! Peter denied Jesus three times…and became the first Pope and one of the greatest Christians in history. Another guy, Saul, was in charge of murdering some of the first Christians…and wrote much of the New Testament after He encountered Jesus and became Paul.

Nothing you can do can make God love you more.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less.

Every day we make choices. Every day we choose to follow God or the world. Every day we face temptations that lead us to God or away from Him. What will you choose?

Prayer

Reflection Time

What is God saying to you?
What are you going to do about it?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

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