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Easter gifts of mercy, forgiveness
April 9, 2012
by Pastor Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.” Psalms 51:1

Many Christians take the forgiveness of sins they receive in Jesus for granted. It is a misconception to think that forgiveness of sins comes just by asking for it. If this is true, then what happens if you forget to “ask” for forgiveness?

Psalm 51 is one of the most quoted psalms, especially in our liturgies. This psalm is all about forgiveness – yet, as one reads it, they realize that King David never once actually asks the Lord to forgive his sins. Instead, David continually asks the Lord to have mercy upon him, and to blot out his transgressions according to His unfailing love.

It is only God’s mercy that produces forgiveness of our sins. There is nothing we can do to produce, or coerce, forgiveness from the Heavenly Father.

You do not receive forgiveness of sins because you ask for it. You are only forgiven because of the Lord’s mercy on you. It only happens when the Lord blots out your sins by His will. And only blood can blot out sins.

On the night of the Passover, the blood of a lamb was smeared on the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites. It was the blood of the lamb, not prayers that kept the death angel from God’s people.

On the Day of Atonement, the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the “mercy seat.” Again, it was the blood of the lamb and not the prayers of the people that covered their sins from the eyes of God.

And on Good Friday, it was the blood of the Lamb that was shed. It was as the blood of the Lamb of God spread over His body and ran down to the dirt at the base of the cross that your sins were paid for.

This is why we celebrate Easter! This is why the world must know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world! This is why you must tell them!

It is only because of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus that we have forgiveness of sins. Nothing we do will ever produce forgiveness or appease God’s demand that we be holy.

As the season of Lent comes to an end, and we begin to celebrate Easter, may we always remember that it is the love and mercy of our God that caused His Son, Jesus Christ, to be nailed to that cross. It was His love and mercy that produced your forgiveness. It was His love and mercy for you that kept Him on the cross.

And for that reason, we take great joy in shouting, “He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”