At the Pharisees’ criticism for his spending time with sinners, Jesus says: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” ~Matthew 9:13 (NRSV).
Divine mercy and sin are co-mingled aspects of the redemptive life. The only condition pending for full salvation is the preparedness of remorse for sins against God; those are to be placed on the altar of our hearts in repentance.
“Remorse” is the operative word: an authentic state of sorrow for our sinful nature. But we have freedom in knowing mercy is plentiful, replete in Jesus’ hanging on the cross of
Two Incredible and Dichotomous Facts
This is what I call the Hourglass Paradox.
When we play Pictionary, using the tiny plastic hourglass, we quickly find the bottom-half full of sand and the top portion empty when time is up.
As our time dries up, the bottom-half is symbolically full with sand—representing both our transgressions and the forgiveness of God for the repentance we enacted right up until the final day. The top portion might represent the unrepentant sinner; not a transgression visible to their eye or worthy of repenting of, nor the forgiveness of God.
While salvation is conditional upon us understanding, continually, that we are sinners, we are the only ones granted escape from a Christless eternity, here and to come.
The Courtroom Analogy
The image before us is clear. We have been caught for and stand accused of a major crime: sins against God.
As wanton and fully charged prisoners, we enter court, go to the dock, plead guilty, accepting the full case against us. Without plea, we expect to be sentenced to the harshest of penalties—and understand this: no defence is entered, because we fully know we’re rotten through. And we sit minutes later, the sentence handed down, staring in disbelief, utterly back-washed in joyous revulsion because we learned we have being acquitted at the legacy of an innocent man who’s been executed for our crimes.
How can we comprehend the mercy of God?
Because of the Hourglass Paradox—the weight of our sin, yet the fullness of grace—we can contemplate the redemptive reality and our minds are never emptied, whilst our hearts are forever full in thankfulness and resultant praise.
Walking out of that courtroom scene: how can it be that Jesus’ love sets me free?
Jesus Came for You and I – the Wonder in That Thought
Jesus says to us, each single one, through the broad expanse of history: only imperfect people need apply. If you know the truth, abide in it. God never expects righteousness, but loves observing people achieve it from their mindful hearts. Grace covers the rest. We needn’t worry.
We must wear our sinfulness as a true mark of our ongoing need of salvation, in approaching the Mercy Seat of Christ.
“Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong; but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” ~Martin Luther.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.