“God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” – Jesus
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Jesus
How do I qualify for the benefits Jesus brings? What do I have to do?
Jesus says, “Here’s what you have to do, you must believe in Him whom God has sent.” ??? What is MY primary job? What work does God command of ME? …My job is to receive. My “work” is to actually accept the gift of grace. God is not satisfied with a mere recognition of grace, or an ability to clearly articulate the theological details of grace. God says, “Receive it! Actually accept it! Believe it!”
I waste a lot of time thinking, “God must be so disappointed with me,” “God must be so frustrated with the fact that I am STILL so selfish, timid, and unfruitful.” However, when I actually read what God has definitively said, I find, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” …And I find, “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
I don’t want the delusional idea of “making myself good so that then maybe God will love me” to distract me from simply accepting the truth that God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. I don’t want the enticing distractions of “success” and “prosperity” to obstruct my awe from being aimed entirely at the accomplishment of Christ for sinners:
As Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
On Good Friday, all we can do is accept or reject the gift of grace. We can’t rescue Jesus from execution. We can’t add to His accomplishment. We can’t pay Him back. Like the Roman centurion who helped crucify Him, all we can do is watch as Jesus utters a loud cry and breaths His last; and we are invited to join the Centurion in confessing “Truly this man was the Son of God!”