Blog In Audio:
I hope you are all well. We have entered into Juneuary, which is an unusual month unique to the Pacific Northwest. It is that month of the year here where it should be June, but somehow January gets mixed in (ha ha). I am sure we will have summer once we get to July 5th, the day after Juneuary ends. This seems to be the history of where I live. Anyway, we had a great weekend, and it was good to be with my church family in Bellingham.
I don’t believe that we are in a season of an abundance of fruit, but I do believe that we are in a season of leaves. God says that the leaves of our lives are for the healing of the nations. They are the medicine that brings health to a sick world. What are those leaves? I believe those leaves are the testimonies of our lives and the good works that we present to the world because of those testimonies. They are testimonies that are the result of God’s healing in our own lives. We are all wounded at times, but only God’s grace and the power of His love can turn the wounds of our lives into testimonies of life and healing for others. I believe there is a great example of this in the testimony of Jesus after His resurrection. The disciples were hiding in a room for fear of being killed as their friend Jesus had been crucified. They no doubt felt the shame and guilt of denying Jesus and not standing with Him through His ordeal. They probably didn’t feel qualified for God’s love. There was no doubt fear and confusion in their hearts and minds as they sat in their place of hiding. When Jesus appeared to them in that room, His testimony was only one of love for His friends.
John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Jesus’ response to His friends was not one of shame. What they had done did not change who He was. Who He was, and His love for them, was what empowered Him to embrace the cross of crucifixion. When Jesus walked into the room He said, “Peace be with you”. He was letting them know that His love for them was not shaken.
John 20:20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
The wounds in Jesus hands and the wounds in His side were not wounds. They were testimonies of His love for His friends. They were like piercings and tattoos on His body as a testimony of His love for them and for us all. He didn’t allow the wounds of the cross to wound Him. He embraced them as the marks of His love. Jesus did not die of crucifixion; He gave His life freely for the sake of love. He embraced the cross and decided to die. The marks of the cross were the evidence of His love. They were the testimony of Love’s conviction!
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Jesus looked for life in every day because every day was a day of life. His words to His friends confirmed that they could not be separated from Him, and the proof was in Him breathing the Spirit of Life into them. The bottom line is, we must look for life in this day of life. We will find what we are looking for and looking at. We will become expressions of what we are looking for and looking at. If bitterness is the root of the focus of our hearts, our eyes will look with a paradigm of a vindication of the flesh. We cannot heal the wounds of the past by seeking to erase the past. We can only allow the wounds of the past to become testimonies of love for the sake of others in our world of today. Jesus didn’t allow the marks of His crucifixion to be bitter wounds for carnal judgment. He allowed them to be testimonies for the sake of giving life and love to others, even to those who seemingly forsook Him in the day of His wounding.
What were the words of Jesus regarding forgiveness? He said that if we forgive the sins of any they are forgiven, but if we don’t, they are retained. I believe that Jesus in the room with His friends with a message of peace was the evidence that He had forgiven them. Their sins could not affect Jesus in a negative way. His love for them was more powerful than their sins against Him. When we don’t forgive another, the retention of their sins affects us. It binds us to wounds and torment. This was the case in the story of the man who was forgiven of debt, but then went and was relentless to collect what was owed him by others.
Matthew 18:34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
This man’s inability to forgive bound him to torture. I believe that the secret to the sins of another not being retained is about us being free. The disciples could see the marks on Jesus’ body, but they were not places of pain in Him. They had become like tattoos and piercings signifying His love for His friends. He didn’t allow them to remain as wounds. When we choose to forgive, what could be wounds of pain become leaves for the sake of healing others. They are the marks we wear that proclaim our love. This is the testimony of our lives in Christ as sons and daughters of forgiveness. The weapons formed against us that attempt to wound us become the tools that manifest our true healing. That testimony is one of healing leaves to the world around us.
Ted J. Hanson
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