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As Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (ESV)

Blessedly Forgiven

Friday of Lent 2

6 March 2015

People struggle with the collision of universes that the incarnation of Christ represents. How is it that this one man born of Mary is also the eternal Son of the Father? How can He be both God and man at the same time? How can these two seemingly opposite things be predicated of a single person, our Lord Jesus Christ? Lewis Carroll in his classic, Through the Looking Glass, has the Queen say to Alice, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Right. Perhaps God is capable not only of thinking impossibilities, but doing them too. The two natures in Christ are united in one person, who at His incarnation becomes the God-Man. Of course, this is not an explanation, but a description. What God says, He can do. Nothing is impossible with God (Lk 1:37). We know who and what Christ is. We may not know how He gets that way.


Given God's apparent ability to put together the impossible, why should we be surprised that He also justifies the ungodly, forgives sinners, and reputes the wicked with His own righteousness? He counts only sinners blessed, because only sinners are able to be forgiven and their iniquities covered. The clash of God's righteousness and human depravity is unthinkable, but He calls into being the things that are not (Rm 4:17). He even calls those sinners, who have been forgiven and whose iniquities have been covered, blessed (Ps 32:1). Blessedness implies possession of even greater gifts and glory. Blessedness is the pinnacle of spiritual well-being in a biblical pattern of thought. How can sinners be blessed? By being counted righteous in God's sight. Yes, the believing sinner has the fullness of the glory of God, because He has been pronounced blessedly forgiven.


Our weakness becomes apparent when we cannot take our eyes off of our own sin. We are mesmerized, even fascinated, by it like the rabbit frozen by the gaze of a rattler waiting to inject its venom. We can't seem to shut our eyes to what God has taken away in Christ. We keep searching around in the depths to repossess what Christ has drowned.  We just can't let go of our sin, though Christ has long ago taken it away from us. We doubt our blessedness through the divine mercy. God has counted us blessed in Him whose righteousness has become ours by faith in Him.


John Chrysostom


"When Paul quotes (Ps 32:1): 'Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven' (Rm 4:7), he seems to be bringing a testimony that does not fit his purpose. For it does not say, 'Blessed are those whose faith is reckoned for righteousness.' But he does this on purpose, not inadvertently, to show the greater superiority. For if he is blessed who by grace received forgiveness, how much more is he forgiven who has been justified and exhibits faith. For where blessedness is, there all shame is removed, and there is much glory. For blessedness is an intensification both of rewards and of glory. Therefore the advantage of the one who works he states (even if it is not found in Scripture): 'Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift' (Rm 4:4). But he brings scriptural testimony to prove the advantage of the faithful, saying as David said, 'Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered' (Ps 32:1). What does he mean? It is not according to what is owed, but according to grace that he receives forgiveness. Behold, this is the person who is pronounced blessed. He would not have pronounced him blessed, unless he saw him enjoying much glory." 


John Chrysostom,  



O Lord Jesus, You have said that you are the physician for those who are sick with sin. Grant us who recognize our sin the gift of divine blessedness by not counting our sin against us. Amen.


For Paul Lodholz, who is reaching the end of his chemotherapy, that the Lord Jesus would grant him the gift of strength and healing


For the shut-in Christians, that the Lord would grant them the peace of God that surpasses human understanding


For the family and friends of Herbert "Buddy" Bennerfield, who are grieving his passing, that they might do so with hope in the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come


For those suffering inclement weather, that they would be kept safe

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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