22–28 February 2015.
Psalm 51 is so important, not only in the Old Testament but also in the life of the church. This text, with its cries for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and its deep sense of our sinfulness, is one we often use during our Lent services, especially to mark this first week of Lent. While this psalm speaks of our deep sinfulness, it then directs us to God’s amazing compassion and grace towards us, to God’s incredible love and forgiveness for sinners just like us.
When we really understand how sinful we are, and all the ways we hurt ourselves and others, we throw ourselves then on the graciousness of God, and cry out like the writer does: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (v. 2). This is our sinners’ prayer, and our great hope for forgiveness.
And in Jesus we already have God’s answer to that prayer. In Jesus’ life and death for us, we already see God’s salvation for us. We see how Jesus has washed us, how he has really forgiven our sins. This hope for forgiveness has become a reality.
Verses 16 & 17 speak about offering sacrifices to God for forgiveness, about offering “a broken and contrite heart”. But in Jesus we see that there is no sacrifice left for us to bring. Christ has done everything for us. This is his amazing grace, Christ’s amazing love that drove him to die for us and forgive us while we were still sinners, before we even had the idea or opportunity to offer “a broken and contrite heart”.
Because of that amazing grace, we can confess our sins to God. We know the trouble and pain that sin has caused in our lives, and we know that Christ is the one who forgives us and heals us of that sin. And it is because of God’s amazing grace toward us that we can ask him today to change our lives, to create in us a new heart, and to transform us into new creatures. Let that be our Lenten prayer this year.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis