He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24: 46-48, NIV)
How can sinful humans be forgiven by God? This question resounds throughout the Bible. The Torah revolves around one answer. The prophets wrestle with the question and offer some new answers. Jesus gives us the final answer.
The biggest problem for the church, of course, is that almost no one is asking the question any more. If Jesus were to show up in Times Square and declare that forgiveness of sins can be found in him, he would be ignored like a man selling player piano music rolls.
The gospel quite often is no longer good news because we do not know we are in need of any news at all. In the language that is so popular today, Christianity is not about sin management.
Maybe not. I don’t think Jesus in Luke 24 was talking about sin management either, but he was talking about sin and forgiveness and repentance. Clearly, he was. That was what he said would be preached to all nations.
So, here is the bad news. You are a sinner. You have broken faith with God. You have rejected his commands. If you do not believe me, go pick up your Bible and read. To make this quick, read The Sermon on the Mount. It won’t take you long to find yourself there. You are a sinner. So am I.
Here is the good news. Jesus is the way to forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Repentance is open to all people everywhere. Turn to Jesus. Place your trust in him. Name him Lord. Believe in the power of his resurrection. You, sinner, can find mercy.
The gospel of Luke closes with this promise. And so do the first 24 weeks of #LukeActs2014.