(The Christian Sage) Mercy and Forgiveness Changes Everything
Welcome back friends. I know that most of my blog posts usually have to do with writing and pop-culture, but after a bit of prayer, I decided to start changing things up a bit. I used to have a blog called: The Christian Sage and I am going to start writing those again. I will still be writing about the usual stuff as well, so don't worry.
That being said, I will separate the posts by signifying in the title that it is a Christian Sage post for those who are interested. This newest post will be one of those. I will also be slowly adding my old posts to this site so they can be enjoyed once again. Hopefully as God leads me in my studies you will find something here that ministers to you. So, now that I have expressed my intentions, on to the post!
Lately, I have been trying something new by reading through Psalms, the Proverbs and the New Testament. I have been feeling very dry over the last year and I realized that I haven't been making much time for prayer and study. I didn't have anything specific on my heart other than the usual questions I tend to studied, so I thought I would try a reading schedule instead of a specific study topic.
True to how God works, I was instantly struck by something I read in Acts chapter 2. (I started in acts not Mathew.) I can't say that It was a concept that was new to me, but in this historical event, I had never seen it this way before. After the Holy Spirit has fallen on them with tongues of fire, Peter addresses the crowd that has formed around them. In his speech he explains who and what Jesus was and shows them through scripture how Jesus fulfilled all of the prophesies.
He goes on to quote scriptures that explain that Jesus wouldn't stay in the grave but be raised from the dead as was foretold the Messiah would do. Through the scriptures Peter explains the entire gospel from beginning to end, and after explaining how this risen man brings hope to those who are lost, he brings the hammer down on them with one statement.
36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
So, what I usually see is how Peter is boldly declaring that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. Now, that is a true and powerful revelation, but it was in his next statement that I saw something about both the character of God as well as the character of the Apostles. I was a bit shocked when God revealed to me what I feel was the crowds attitude when they respond to Peter. The scripture says,
37Now when they heard this,(Zech. 12:10) they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Ok, so we talk a lot about how our sin is what caused Jesus to have to go to the cross and, how by default, we killed Christ. These people, however, had actually killed Him. They didn't kill Him in a figurative sense, but they were most likely all there at his trial, torture and crucifixion. Can you imagine what must have been going through their minds when the revelation hit them that this man actually was a God? And not only that he was a God, but he has now risen from the dead. Parden the turn of phrase, but they were probably soiling their collective pants.
Sure they were cut to the heart. I bet they were terrified. We tend to see the past from the filter of our own beliefs and convictions. This is why a lot of us don't really understand history. We want it to fit into our views of the world and we judge those that came before us as if they should think and know the things we know. The truth is, that they thought differently from us. As Christians we think that they were crying in broken heartedness for how much Jesus loved them. I honestly don't think so.
These people had gods they served and worshiped and they had a deep rooted belief in the power of those gods. The Jews would have realized that they had killed the Messiah, the man that was God in the flesh. They were not atheist's or agnostics, no, they were a people who were raised to believe that gods were real. So now, after seeing the supernatural display of the Apostles and remembering all of the power Jesus had displayed, they knew they had made a terrible mistake. They had killed a God and he was now back to exact vengeance.
They knew very well that gods required a heavy price when you angered them. Could this God require food, or money, or as I am sure they were most afraid of, blood? Can you imagine as well the Jews who realized that this man is the messiah and that they killed him. They probably thought that wrath was sure to come down on them. Just imagine what it must have been like for them all as they waited to see what this God would do to them.
The Peter responds to them and it was revolutionary. It was revolutionary to the Jews who understood only the law and the consequences of breaking that law and to the gentiles who only knew vengeful wrathful gods. In response to what they need to do to make things right he says,
38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Do you see how revolutionary this was to them? All that was needed was to repent and this Jesus, the man they crucified, would simply forgive them and take away their sins. But wait there's more, he will also do this for their children and for all those who are far off. What? Their was no price to be paid for what they had done? No fire and brimstone? No wrath from above? This was so diametrically apposed to everything they had been taught to believe for thousands of years. This Jesus, this God was going to forgive them and show them mercy.
It was then, I believe that the Holy Spirit opened up their minds and hearts. They began to understand just what it was that was being offered to them. Just how much Jesus had changed everything. I wonder if some of them were led back in their minds to the last thing Jesus said before he died.
"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Wow, I know that those of us who have been saved for a while understand just how revolutionary the Love of Jesus is, but I was just so struck by how they must have seen it. This God who they had murdered unjustly, who they had wronged had chosen to forgive them and to show them mercy. It was that He chose mercy, grace and forgiveness that everything changed and if we, just like Peter, who if he had chosen to let his anger at what they had done dictate what he would do, choose to forgive and show mercy, we will not only change the lives of those around us, but the very fabric of reality itself.