In the season of lent, we prepare our hearts for Easter by focusing on confessing our sins. Confession of sin not only calls for a focus on our utter depravity, but also on the excruciating reality of the remedy for sin. Walking with Jesus to the cross makes you aware of both the inconceivable cost for God Himself to forgive our sins and the astonishing power of this remedy to defeat the power of sin and death in the lives of anyone who believes. Confession of sin opens our hearts to the power of the cross.
Jesus described this to the Priests who were taking up space in the house where Jesus was healing and teaching at the beginning of His ministry in Capernaum. There were so many people crowding around Jesus that the paralytic with four friends could not bring him close to Jesus. These four friends would not be deterred so they brought their friend to Jesus by opening the roof of the home where Jesus was preaching. Jesus saw the faith of the four friends and looked at the paralytic man and told him that his sins were forgiven. The judging religious group were utterly offended for God by listening to this statement from Jesus. Evidentially, they had group think—without talking about it out loud, because Jesus responded to what they were thinking, not to what they said. Mark 2:8-9 says: “And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk?”
Which is easier? My part is to confess my sin, but Jesus’ part was to pay for my sins on the cross. Why do I avoid the confession of my sin? It is so easy in comparison to the difficulty for Jesus to forgive my sins. Also, confessing my sins is the most extraordinary action I can take daily. As I confess my sins, they are forgiven, washed away by the powerful blood of Jesus.
I doubt the religious leaders in Capernaum could understand the question Jesus asked of them. Do I? Do I understand the privilege of confession? Do I comprehend the power of the Lenten season to prepare my heart to acknowledge the work of God and Jesus to overcome the utter devastation of sin and death?
There are so many ways to confess sin. I have used many of them. I have used guides that cover the 10 commandments, and other guides that have categories of sins. I need these because I find it so easy to minimize my sin. I don’t think about my personal sin as easily as I think of those who sin against me. It makes sense that God asks me to think about how I have forgiven others when He teaches me to confess my sin in the Lord’s Prayer.
When I think about how hard it is for Jesus to forgive my sins, it motivates me to confess my sins more. This happened to me in such a powerful way as I waited in the long line at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to kneel before the altar where Jesus’ cross was thought to have stood. You wait for your opportunity to kneel before the altar built there and reach through the hole and touch the rock. I was taking in the art and décor, not really thinking about what my response would be when it came to my opportunity to kneel and touch the rock. However, I was totally amazed by how that small action affected me. I waited all that time without expectation. After I rose from my prayerful touch, I became overwhelmed with the cost of forgiveness for my sins. I stood and walked the long line of stairs and path out of the church with the only thought in my heart—overwhelming thankfulness to Jesus for what He had sacrificed for me personally. It is truly overpowering to take in even a fraction of how hard it is to forgive sins. Forgiving sin is a tremendous feat that we can truly never conceive. It makes me grateful for my easy part—confession.
As I anticipate lent’s rich spiritual blessings in my life, I am never ready to stop meditating on the cross and its transforming power. I wrote an expanded Lenten Guide that includes daily devotions all the way to Pentecost. You can check out A Lenten Guide—Spiritual Transformation from Lent through Eastertide here I wish you a Holy Lenten journey.