Names are an important clue to destiny in the Bible. we need to begin by examining the name Jesus and understanding our personal need for both human and divine forgiveness. The name Jesus is a combination of Je or Yeh a shortened form of Yahweh; and “sus” the Aramaic verb to save. Many people in our secular culture are not aware of the danger of un-forgiveness as separating ourselves from both other people and God. I went through 30 years of silence and emotional darkness before experiencing the joy of forgiveness and reconciliation with my ex-wife. In our healing ministry Lucille and I have seen the joy on many faces as people come to forgiveness with others or accept forgiveness from Jesus. Un-forgiveness leads to destructive emotions of bitterness that pollute our personal spirit and separate us from God. The Good news of Jesus is that He was born to die for the sins of all people so they could be freed from what Isaiah called the "rod of the oppressor", Satan, who deceives us into rebellion against God and spiritual death. The Readings explain how this gift of forgiveness works.
1. Luke (2.1-20) Gives Us the Good News of the Forgiveness of Sins by Jesus
He begins by setting the event in history during the rule of specific historical Roman officials. The details teach us a great deal. For example why would an eight month pregnant woman ride 90 miles to Bethlehem on a donkey when only men had to register - and why was there no room in the inn?g
- · She was an unmarried pregnant woman and afraid she would be stoned to death by her relatives as the Law required if left behind
- · Nobody would believe God was the physical father of the child
- · Point of the story is that God, not Joseph really was the father
- · Point is Jesus is divine in nature as well as human - and therefore could die a sacrificial death for the sins of all people
- · We all have trouble believing a man could die for the sins of all people - but Jesus was not just a man
- · This New Covenant of Jesus - God will forgive the sins of anyone who believes in Jesus and asks Him for forgiveness
- · The Prayer of Jesus adds a condition that is very dangerous - God's forgiveness, as we pray, is limited to "as we forgive"
- · Forgiveness of others is not an option for serious Christians
2. The Forgiveness of Jesus is Like a Light in the Darkness
We are living in a dark time when many people do not have lives of joy and peace. They are burdened by feelings of anger, bitterness, un-forgiveness, guilt and shame. Isaiah prophesied 500 years earlier that God would send a Saviour who would "..shatter the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor." (v 4) These are outward visible forms of control that represent the invisible spiritual and mental control of shame and guilt.
- · God has given us freedom -- but He is holy and anything unholy would simply burn up in the fire of His holy presence
- · Life tests our love of God, by challenging us to forgive others and to overcome the temptations to rebel against God's Rule
- · Jesus is like a light that comes into our personal darkness, exposes our brokenness and spiritual pollution and gives us an opportunity to ask for and receive forgiveness
- · Belief or trust in Jesus leads to forgiveness and eternal inclusion in the spiritual body of Jesus Christ
3. Titus summarizes this process as Redemption and Purification
Redemption is like going to a pawn shop and redeeming a gold watch that had been traded for cash. When we rebel against God we give Satan the right to tempt and oppress us through our guilt and shame. In extreme cases Satan may gain the right to control our lives.
· Alcoholism, unmarried sex, power and control can be examples of repeated rebellion against God's Rule, leading to further separation from God's kingdom
- · Good news is that you can always make a decision to repent, ask for forgiveness and come home.
- · Really Good News is that forgiveness purifies our personal spirit and we can invite the Holy Spirit to live inside us
- · Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen us as we develop a deeper relationship of love, joy and peace with Jesus
Christ's Mass is a celebration of our joy in forgiveness
and our re-birth as precious children of God
- may God Bless us all with His grace, love, forgiveness and healing