Bible Reading: John 19:17-30; Psalm 103:1-22
“If You, Lord, should keep an account of our sins and treat us accordingly,
O Lord, who could stand [before you in judgment and claim innocence]?
But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared and worshiped [with submissive wonder]” [Psalm 130:3-4 Amplified Bible]
We have seen that Jesus was our substitute who bore our sin and thus satisfied God’s holiness and justice. We have also seen how God through the death of Jesus on the cross was reconciling us to Himself, and how He bought us back from the power of Satan. Today we look at one further reason why the cross is so important.
Fourthly, on the cross Jesus died to forgive our sins. Substitution, Reconciliation, Redemption and now Forgiveness! Writing to the Ephesians, Paul says, “In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” [Ephesians 1:7].
The word forgiveness is the Greek word “aphiemi” meaning “to send away” or “to release and let go.” When God speaks about forgiving us it means that he has taken away our sins, and put them on Jesus. There is a type of this in the Old Testament that helps us to understand what God did with our sins. On the Day of Atonement two young goats were used as a sacrifice for sins [Leviticus 16]. One of the young goats was the sin offering, and the other the scapegoat [Leviticus 16:9-10]. The sins of Israel were confessed over the scapegoat and then it was sent away into the wilderness [Leviticus 16:21-23], never to be seen again. Here is the picture of Jesus – the scapegoat on whom our sins have been laid and sent away.
Literally, God has taken our sins away [forgiven us] and put them on Jesus! He has taken them away from us! With this forgiveness we are released from the guilt of sin, the mistakes of the past, the fear of death and future condemnation. “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins” [Psalm 103:8-12 The Message]. In another translation, verse 12 reads, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” [NKJV]. If it had said from north to south it would have been limited, but it is from east to west! There is no east or west pole, and therefore infinity. That is how far God has removed our transgressions – gone forever! It is total forgiveness.
Do you sometimes struggle to accept that your sins are forgiven? Why not read the verses in this devotional and begin to thank God for their promise?
Read Mark 12:1-12. What do you learn about forgiveness from this story?