No matter how wrong you are, you’re not that far, you’re not too far / No matter who you are, you’re not that far, you’re not too far from forgiveness
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Is there any story in history that rivals the magnificence of the gospel? The King of Heaven creates the universe. His creatures rebel against Him and throw all of creation into chaos. Moved by deep love for the people he has made, this Creator enters their world as one of them. He walks with them, heals them, teaches them, and ultimately gives his life not only to save those wayward rebels, but to welcome them back into his kingdom, restored and forgiven.
We see the amazing depth of that forgiveness portrayed in Luke’s gospel when the Roman soldiers nail Jesus to the cross. He could have justly called the wrath of Heaven down upon them, but instead he pleads with God for their forgiveness. They, of all people. The ones who had just insulted, beaten, mocked, and crucified the Son of God.
Who is this God, who so compassionately loves even his enemies? And yet, if we see the depth of our own sin for what it truly is, we start to realize that we are no more innocent than those Roman soldiers. We too were God’s enemies. In Romans Paul writes For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10
And again in Colossians he says Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22
The realization that we weren’t just basically good people who needed a helping hand, but were, at our cores, God’s enemies, is a bitter pill to swallow. It crushes all of our self-righteousness and pride. But it’s followed by the greatest news in all of history. God forgives his enemies! Enemies like us. Jesus on the cross wasn’t just interceding for those Roman soldiers, he was pleading for all of us too.
It’s only when we begin to recognize the true depth of our sin, that we can even begin to comprehend the sweetness of our salvation. We were as far from God as we could ever have been. We were his enemies, fighting against him in our thoughts and actions. But grace and mercy and forgiveness were not far from us even then. And they aren’t far from anyone now who would turn in repentance and receive that forgiveness. That’s good news indeed.