Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Every once in a while we have something, which for lack of words, we call a bad day. Its not that the day in and of itself was bad – but it certainly didn’t turn out as we expected. And- when this happens, we want to talk about it – as sometimes that helps us understand what happened.
Sometimes it might sound like grumbling – and perhaps it is – but there is more to it, and if you will – there are several questions we are asking all at the same time.
If nothing else talking about it helps us to get perspective and to deal with our frustration.
But as bad as our worst possible day, Good Friday is so much worse. We might have thought we were going through Hell – but Jesus actually did. How bad was it? It was so bad, we don’t even like to talk about it – except in shorthand. We may talk about Jesus being stricken, smitten, and afflicted – but we don’t really want to think about the details. We may talk about Jesus as despised, abandoned, forsaken and betrayed – as long as the responsibility lies elsewhere.
You see, not only was it as bad as it seemed – but he wasn’t to blame – and that blame doesn’t rest on some long dead Romans or on certain Jews – it rests squarely on us. Our sins where there too, yours and mine – and it is just as though we nailed Jesus to the cross.
We may talk about the wages of sin being death – but Jesus took all that death – the whole burden of sin and he carried it. And that is why we talk this day about the tender mercy of God. That is why the passion is such a profound mystery – that God could love us so greatly, while we are yet sinners – that he could suffer and die for us. Die for us, while we deny him, betray him, while we mock him and beat him, while we crucify him. Such great love is beyond words. And that is God’s great love for us.
Certainly this day we are fully aware of our sins, and we must admit we are guilty – and we must admit that we deserved all that Jesus suffered. But the passion is not so much about our guilt and shame – it is not so much to oppress us and make us feel guilty – as it is to demonstrate the depth of God’s great love for us.
You see, it is quite easy to be merciful and hard – but God knew we didn’t have the strength for a hard mercy – wouldn’t have the strength because seeing the burden of our sins we are crushed – and so the promise to us is of God’s tender mercy. And that is why Jesus suffered so – so that he could love us with a tender mercy – one that doesn’t crush us – one that lifts us up and gives us hope.
And our hope is in the forgiveness that is ours in the cross of Christ – a tender mercy which invites us – a mercy that is not singular – for it is a multitude of mercy – enough to deal with all our sin, enough grace to blot out all our transgression – that is the power of the love of God which we see in the cross. And so let us watch God’s great love in action as we consider the Passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the bountiful mercy of God give us great hope, and lighten every day, as we always have the light of the world before us, in Jesus our crucified Lord.