S-1450 14SAP/3A 9/14/2014 Hymns: (O) #5; (S) #32; LS #312; #315; (C) #416
Texts: Genesis 50:15-20; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
Theme: “Forgiveness Needed” (Genesis 50:15-17)
Question: “How badly do you need forgiveness?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O. T. lesson: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you” And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (Genesis 50:15-17).
Precious children of the heavenly Father, it often happens between siblings—fights break out, evil things are done and harsh words are spoken. These evil things and harsh words break up relationships and wound hearts and sometimes forever. However, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of this sin, and we come to our senses; acknowledging our wrong doing, seeking peace, crawl back and ask for forgiveness, we find that forgiveness is waiting there for us in an inexhaustible supply! Forgiveness is a gift we all need. Yet sometimes we don’t think we deserve or can be forgiven because of how bad we have been and the evil we have done.
A week ago Saturday, I attended (in Huron, SD) my 40th high school class reunion. After greeting many of my classmates and catching up with some of them, I settled down and sat across one of my classmates (Roger) who I wasn’t really close to in high school.
As the evening progressed I visited with him about what he has been doing. He introduced me to his wife who happened to be sitting right next to me. I then asked, “Roger, how long have you been married?” He answered, “Since last November.” I followed with another question. “Is this your first marriage?” “No!” was his response. I asked, “What happened, do you care to share?” He then proceeded to tell me “of the many mistakes he has done. How terrible he was and how sorry he was to do what he has done to himself and her. He took ownership of sins and mistakes.” I reached out to him and said, “You know Roger, there is forgiveness with the Lord for ALL sins!”
At that moment Roger started to weep—tears were running down his cheeks. He said, “You know Nabil, the hardest thing to do is to forgive yourself of the stupidity and foolishness of living to please yourself.” At that moment, I held his hands and said, “Roger, listen to me carefully, with Jesus there is no limit to His forgiveness and His grace; with Jesus you can go to Him anytime and seek His touch of forgiveness.” I went on saying, “Roger, when you get home, I would like you to do this for me: take a piece of paper (I took a napkin at this time) and write on it every sin you have ever committed. Then take a couple of pieces of 2 X 4’s and make a cross out of them (as I have done here. The cross is sitting in the center of the sanctuary) then take a hammer and nail the piece of paper to the cross (as I will do during my preaching) and walk away knowing full well that Jesus’ death has removed every stain of sin from you and you are redeemed, restored, and forgiven.
John the beloved disciple of Jesus wrote this for our benefit: “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). At that moment Roger said while still weeping, “Nabil, you got me with this one.” I said, “No Roger, I don’t have you, but Jesus has you in His loving and pierced hands!” PAUSE.
Saints in Christ, “forgiveness” is the gift my friend Roger needed and that is the gift the brothers’ of Joseph needed—for they too had done many evil things to him. They tore his special coat of many colors, put him in a well, desired to kill him, sold him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28) and lied about it to their father! From there on his life went down the drain. He was purchased by Potiphar, accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape, which landed him in prison for many years. But the God of His fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob didn’t forget him, but redeemed and restored him for the purpose of saving many lives.
Now the conscience of the brothers’ is troubling them. Though they have seen the kindness of Joseph in providing for them and their families, yet they weren’t sure if this is real or not. Add to this, their father Jacob has been called home and they are terrified that Joseph will take vengeance on them since their father is no longer alive.
So they sent a messenger telling Joseph that their father (another lie) had asked that he would forgive them the evil they had done to him. These troubled brothers needed a gift—the GIFT of forgiveness and they found it in the man they had done wrong too. Joseph was a gracious and loving brother. He wept when he heard them ask for his forgiveness and he offered them the assurance and confidence that he holds no grudges against them with these words: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:19-20).
With these words Joseph was giving them a message of hope and help. You are forgiven. You and your families are loved. What you did to me, you did to harm me, but God used your wickedness and evil to save many people. This again demonstrates the awesome power of at using everything for our good. PAUSE.
Precious children of the heavenly Father, it is not only Roger and Joseph’s brothers’ that need this gift, but so do WE. For we have done many evil and wicked things in life. We have done evil and hurtful things to others, but more importantly to Christ Himself. We have denied Him, we have forsaken Him, and we have lived to please ourselves.
But take heart, I have good news for you. For there is another who was sold into the hands of the Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver (Mt. 26:14-16), so that He might be put to death. Like Joseph, Jesus was betrayed and sold by one of His closest companions—Judas. Judas being greedy sold Jesus for the price of a slave. Jesus was put into prison overnight, stripped of all of His clothing, whipped, beaten, flogged, His beard plucked and eventually drove nails into His hands and feet and hung Him on a cross like a common criminal to die.
On a far grander scale than Joseph, Jesus uttered these words before anyone asked for forgiveness saying: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). From the parched lips of Jesus we receive the most blessed gift that we need—forgiveness of sins. This is the greatest gift we sinners need to hear and receive from the gracious Savior who died and rose for all of our sins.
Mankind meant evil by the cross, but God used this instrument of torture and death to bring about the saving of the human race from spending an eternity in hell. Only through the cross there is redemption. Only through the cross there is restoration. Only through the cross does the Lord deliver His peace, mercy, love and FORGIVENESS.
Know this, precious children, with God there is no limit to His forgiveness, mercy, love and grace! Jesus takes all of our sins to the cross. He invites us to bring all of our hideous, evil deeds, wicked things and sins we have ever committed and give it to Him. And He with His shed blood removes that sin away from you and me.
By the grace of God we have received the gift that we need—His forgiveness. If you doubt that you are worthy to be forgiven, or don’t think that you can forgive yourself, I encourage you to do the same as I told Roger, take a piece of paper and write on it all of your sins, and come up here (you can do it now or when no one is here) and nail it to the cross and know for a fact that all of your sins have been washed by the Holy innocent blood of the Lamb—Jesus Christ who takes away the sin of the world—YOURS.
Today, you have received a marvelous gift from Christ Himself—the gift of forgiveness. But He is not done blessing you—through this gift; comes many other gifts—His love, peace, joy and eternal life. On top of that, He has prepared a table for you to dine with Him as Your host and servant to remind you He holds no grudges against you, but loves you and wants you to know you are indeed, Redeemed, Restored and Forgiven.
Thanks be to Jesus for His GIFT of forgiveness now and forever. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA