Today, as in several years past, I have taken a break from my routine to reflect on what Jesus did for me on the cross. It is a time when I reflect back on my own sin and recognize again my need for a Savior because there is nothing good in me that can save myself.
I started this tradition back in 1998 when on Good Friday morning I was reading Daniel Chapter 9. Daniel said that he was reflecting on the predictions of Jeremiah the prophet concerning the length of time that the nation of Israel would remain in exile because of their sin. He prayed a prayer recognizing his sin as well as the nation of Israel:
"O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke inyour name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame - the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away refusing to obey you.
Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
Now, O Lord our God who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have make Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
Now, our God hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolations of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."
When I read that passage, I was struck to my core as to how it could still be said of me and my generation today. We have all sinned against God and much of the hardship we face might well be God's intervention in our lives to cause us to turn back to him. I was so humbled and repentant that I could not even conceive of going about my daily routine as if my sin was nothing and trivialize the act of Christ on the cross in paying the penalty for my sins.
I do know there is more to the story and will rejoice on Easter when we celebrate his resurrection, but I also think that it might do us all good to reflect on our own sins and our need of a Savior. We have no hope apart from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and if there had been another way for me to reconcile myself to God and gain entrance into eternal life with him in heaven, Christ's death would have been for nothing.
I need a Savior. My sins are great before God. I wish I could say that I have acknowledged them all and sought and received God's forgiveness, but I can't even say that I truly understand the depth of my sin and I know that I have trivialized so much of it. How many times do I pray my petitions before God and do not even stop to confess my sin before him. I can say that as I have been more and more convicted of my sin, I can see more of the depths of love Christ expressed for me on the cross. I was doomed and Christ came and paid my penalty. Easter is coming, but for today, I believe I will just go before God and remember my sins and the great love that held Christ to the cross so that I could go before the throne of God personally and know that he has heard my petitions. This day we recognize the depth of our shame.
May God richly bless you as you seek him and as you serve him.