“Amnesia"

Sunday Devotion
April 11, 2021

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus!

That first Easter evening was pretty spectacular.  You know the story.  The disciples were hiding.  Jesus walked

through locked doors.  Thomas wasn’t there.  Thomas refused to believe. 

 

Jesus showed up again a week later.  He let Thomas feel His hands and feet and said “Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”  You’ve likely heard that sermon the first Sunday after Easter for your entire life.  I know I’ve preached that sermon a couple times personally.

Let me direct your eyes elsewhere this year.

 

Jesus walked through locked doors.  He probably held His arms out in the typical form of greeting or welcome.  He said “Peace be with you.”  And then He breathed on them.  And then He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And then He said, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 

Go back and read that again!  I bet you’ve hardly paid attention to those words of Jesus that first Easter evening before!

 

“I’ll ‘forgive’ but I won’t forget.”

 

Those are popular words today.  I’ve even heard some of you say those words!  And I’ve said them too!

Have you ever had a friend who sets one set of rules for everyone else but follows a different set of rules personally?  If someone else does something wrong, it’s wrong – and usually is the subject of extended criticism.  But if that particular person personally does exactly the same thing, it’s not wrong and can be easily explained away. 

 

We’re more than happy to receive the forgiveness of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross.  There, at Calvary, God developed amnesia (1 John 1:7; Psalm 103:12).  He forgave our sins.  And He forgot our sins.  And we’re glad He did!  We don’t want our sins remembered.  But, as we go our way as the fully forgiven people of God, we tend to set a different set of rules that we follow.  We “forgive” but vow to never forget.  I’ve often wondered if that really is true forgiveness.

I realize that’s how we protect ourselves from being taken advantage of again and again and again.  The hurt that has been done to us needs to be remembered – even if it’s truly “forgiven” – so that it doesn’t happen again.  Truth be told, if we keep remembering that sin we probably haven’t truly forgiven it.  And least not the way we enjoy God’s amnesia in forgiving and forgetting our sin.

 

I also realize that God is God and we are not.  But do you think forgiveness is any easier for God than it is for us?

Let’s go back to that first Easter evening.  I’m sure Jesus’ hands and feet and side still hurt from those nails and that spear (just like all of us who have had a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccination experience lingering pain at the injection site).   Jesus proclaimed “Peace.”  He breathed on them.  He said, “Receive ths Holy Spirit.”  And then – those hands and feet and side still hurting – He said “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Jesus was looking smack dab into the eyes of the guys He had been wounded for to forgive.  You can’t tell me that was easy!

 

The amnesia that we expect from God, we are called upon by Jesus to practice personally.  No.  Sorry.  There are no loopholes.  There are no exceptions granted for being human and not God.  Remember that Jesus was speaking those words to His human disciples.  He knew that His words would be challenging to them and He knew His words would be challenging for us (I think that may be one reason those words are often skirted over quickly in this narrative of the first Easter).  But Jesus said them anyway.

 

So how do we do it?

 

First, we get confronted with Jesus’ peace.  We check out what our peace cost Jesus.  Like Thomas, we thrust our fingers into His hands and side.  We reflect upon the costliness of God’s peace.

 

Second, we breathe in God’s Holy Spirit.  It’s not as hard as it seems.  Jesus still stands before us every time we open our Bible or gather together with His people to receive His Supper.

 

Finally, every time we fall short in living out Jesus’ words, we don’t settle for accepting it, no matter how many justifiable reasons we can create.  We confess our inability to forgive.  We ask God to forgive us.  We ask God to help us.  We try again.  And we keep up that process until the hurt diminishes and we are able to truly experience God’s peace that passes all human understanding.

That first Easter evening was pretty spectacular.  You know the story.  The disciples were hiding. Jesus walked through locked doors.  Thomas wasn’t there.  Thomas refused to believe.  Jesus showed up again a week later.  He let Thomas feel His hands and feet and said “Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”  You’ve likely heard that sermon the first Sunday after Easter for your entire life.  I know I’ve preached that sermon a couple times personally.

 

Let me direct your eyes elsewhere this year.

 

Jesus walked through locked doors.  He probably held His arms out in the typical form of greeting or welcome.  He said “Peace be with you.”  And then He breathed on them.  And then He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And then He said, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 

Go back and read that again!  I bet you’ve hardly paid attention to those words of Jesus that first Easter evening before!

 

“I’ll ‘forgive’ but I won’t forget.”

 

Those are popular words today.  I’ve even heard some of you say those words!  And I’ve said them too!

 

Have you ever had a friend who sets one set of rules for everyone else, but follows a different set of rules personally?  If someone else does something wrong, it’s wrong – and usually is the subject of extended criticism.  But if that particular person personally does exactly the same thing, it’s not wrong and can be easily explained away. 

 

We’re more than happy to receive the forgiveness of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross.  There, at Calvary, God developed amnesia (1 John 1:7; Psalm 103:12).  He forgave our sins.  And He forgot our sins.  And we’re glad He did!  We don’t want our sins remembered.  But, as we go our way as the fully forgiven people of God, we tend to set a different set of rules that we follow.  We “forgive” but vow to never forget.  I’ve often wondered if that really is true forgiveness.

 

I realize that’s how we protect ourselves from being taken advantage of again and again and again.  The hurt that has been done to us needs to be remembered – even if it’s truly “forgiven” – so that it doesn’t happen again.  Truth be told, if we keep remembering that sin we probably haven’t truly forgiven it.  And least not the way we enjoy God’s amnesia in forgiving and forgetting our sin.

 

I also realize that God is God and we are not.  But do you think forgiveness is any easier for God than it is for us?

 

Let’s go back to that first Easter evening.  I’m sure Jesus’ hands and feet and side still hurt from those nails and that spear (just like all of us who have had a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccination experience lingering pain at the injection site).   Jesus proclaimed “Peace.”  He breathed on them.  He said, “Receive ths Holy Spirit.”  And then – those hands and feet and side still hurting – He said “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Jesus was looking smack dab into the eyes of the guys He had been wounded for to forgive.  You can’t tell me that was easy!

 

The amnesia that we expect from God, we are called upon by Jesus to practice personally.  No.  Sorry.  There are no loopholes.  There are no exceptions granted for being human and not God.  Remember that Jesus was speaking those words to His human disciples.  He knew that His words would be challenging to them and He knew His words would be challenging for us (I think that may be one reason those words are often skirted over quickly in this narrative of the first Easter).  But Jesus said them anyway.

 

So how do we do it?

 

First, we get confronted with Jesus’ peace.  We check out what our peace cost Jesus.  Like Thomas, we thrust our fingers into His hands and side.  We reflect upon the costliness of God’s peace.

 

Second, we breathe in God’s Holy Spirit.  It’s not as hard as it seems.  Jesus still stands before us every time we open our Bible or gather together with His people to receive His Supper.

 

Finally, every time we fall short in living out Jesus’ words, we don’t settle for accepting it no matter how many justifiable reasons we can create.  We confess our inability to forgive.  We ask God to forgive us.  We ask God to help us.  We try again.  And we keep up that process until the hurt diminishes and we are able to truly experience God’s peace that passes all human understanding.

Grace and peace to you!

Stay Well!

Pastor Christopher Schaar

Firstpasa@aol.com

626.793.1139