“…they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
“…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…” Rev 1:5
“This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
It is an age-old image of the cross of Jesus Christ.
The pouring of blood that saves.
Maybe I saw it painted. Or heard it depicted in a sermon.
The image of stepping up to the cross of Christ and letting his blood coat and cleanse me from sin.
It is a powerful (paradoxical) impression that goes back to my childhood.
I still believe it is true.
I believe I am welcomed to that cross. To be cleansed and freed.
Blood wasn’t the only thing that poured on that remarkable day.
And it isn’t the only thing meant to wash over me as His Follower.
There was a total experience. A devastating and delivering one.
“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves, ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
The anguished, sorrowing cry of rejection.
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Goodbye and sacrificial release.
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
“…Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.”
“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…”
Hanging naked before the world. Spit on, scarred and dying.
“Father forgive them…”
As the anguish poured.
As the rejection resounded.
As the accusations were spoken and believed.
While everyone was still sinning.
Forgiveness poured. Right along with His blood. The two cannot and will not be separated.
This message, this truth, which I have heard and believed always, is coming alive in me in a whole new way. Exuding life where I have forgotten to breath.
Christ’s Mercy, spoken from the cross, has been a thing I attain to; a heart I aspire to train into.
Something I keep trying to do myself.
Inevitably, painful heartbreak trips me up.
That insult. That injustice. Those people.
Where there is injury. Where I am wronged. Where I hurt.
There, my eyes can examine the wound so closely and feel the pain so acutely that forgiveness can feel very far beyond my own hard, shattered heart.
It makes no difference where I seek solace. In church. In service. In anger. In tears. Surrounded by friends. All alone.
I find Him in each of those places. Waiting and receiving.
He has my cup already poured.
I receive His forgiveness for me readily. I guzzle the grace right down. I understand that His Love, His Mercy, His Sacrifice does all the doing where my own forgiveness is concerned.
And then, refreshed and thirst quenched I turn to give to the world.
My gaze turns.
My heart turns.
The motive is fine.
To give what I have been given.
It doesn’t always work.
No matter how holy my words sound or how generous my actions may appear. My heart can still hold on to things it should not.
I am hearing…
In the very hardest places.
Where there is destruction. Where there is pervasive grief.
He continually calls my gaze back.
Locks it in.
To his eyes that eternally reflect the cross. And the cup.
All that was poured.
I so badly need that communion, because the forgiveness is going to kill me.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”
That I might have life…
“…The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
He knows that connection to Him, the One who speaks on my behalf, is the only way.
“…Christ Jesus who died---more than that, who was raised to life---is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us…”
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
I John 2: 1-2
He shed the blood. And spoke the forgiveness.
In my place. He bled and forgave. In my place.
He was forgiving me for all.
And he was forgiving all with me.
It was a complete work. A total work.
A giving that would wrap all of me up.
His presence. His Love is the imperative. There is no Healing outside of Him.
In the face of the most painful injustices. The most searing accusations. The most costly loss.
From every shattered place.
I am invited.
To step right back under that cross I love.
To be coated and covered; filled and set free by…
His forgiveness for All.
I just have to get up underneath it. And let it with all it’s mighty grace, continue to do it’s work in me.
He forever attached forgiveness to anguish.
He made the impossible, Possible.
Eyes fixed on His, I hear Him declare:
“It is finished.”
Let it be, dear Savior.
Let. It. Be.