Christ does not reluctantly forgive sins
Do you know what it is like to wonder whether Christ is willing to forgive you for your sins?
Maybe you’ve been struggling with a particular temptation and you’ve given in to it. You return to the Lord and confess your sin and cry out to him for forgiveness. In your mind, you know that he is able to forgive you, but your sinful nature causes you to doubt wether he is willing to forgive you this time. After all, how many times has he already forgiven you of this same sin?
Or maybe you’re not a Christian and you look at your past and you see all the sins you’ve committed. You know that Jesus is able to forgive you but you wonder whether he is willing to forgive you because your sins are so bad and so numerous.
The Bible study I am a part of has recently been working through the Gospel of Mark. There is a particular account at the end of chapter one that emphasises that Jesus is both able and willing to forgive.
In Mark 1:40-45 we read the story of Jesus and a man with Leprosy. The Leper knows that Jesus is able to heal him. He has probably heard the reports of Jesus’ mighty works and may have even seen him perform some of them with his own eyes.
The leper knows that Jesus is able to cleanse him but he is not so sure that Jesus is willing. This is revealed in what the Leper says. We might expect him to say, “Jesus! Please cleanse me!” However, instead he says, “If you will, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40 ESV). Please forgive me, but I need to get a little technical here to make my point clear. The main clause in the Leper’s words is, “…you can make me clean”. The subordinate clause is, “If you will…” Thus, the Leper is affirming that Jesus can make him clean, but he is not sure if Jesus will choose to. In other words, he is sure that Jesus is able, but wondering if he is willing.
Jesus responds in a magnificent way. He tells the Leper that he is indeed willing and he cleanses him (vv.41-42)!
What has this got to do with forgiveness of sins?
Well in Isaiah 64:6 we are told that because of their sins Israel has become, “like one who is unclean” – that is, like a leper. Yet the Lord promised that he would cleanse them from the guilt of their sins against him (Jer 33:8). When Jesus proclaimed, “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15) he was announcing that the time has come for this promise to be fulfilled. I believe that Mark has included the account of Jesus cleansing the Leper because it illustrates so wonderfully how Jesus is both able and willing to cleanse Israel (and anyone else who comes to him) from the guilt of their sins against God. This is confirmed by the fact that the very next account is about Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Mk 2:1-12).
Jesus is most definitely able to forgive/cleanse us from our sins. Is he willing to do so for you? Let’s let him answer that: “I will; be clean”.
Christ does not reluctantly forgive sins. He is most eager and willing to forgive all who believe, confess and repent.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Praise be to our Lord for his wonderful grace!
Matt Cole is in his third year of ministry training at PTC and attends Somerville Presbyterian Church