"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9
How many times have I washed dishes during my lifetime I complained as I put my dry hands in the hot dishwater once more this morning. I wondered. . . . how many? Countless. As I washed the sink full of dirty dishes once again I reflected. Over and over I have washed dishes, cups, bowls, pans, glasses and silverware clean. Yet, I won't give up, I'll keep washing them as long as I am able.
As I scrubbed, I reflected. . . . it's kind of like Jesus washing me clean from my sins - over and over again.These dirty dishes are alot like us when we sin, I thought. Yet, He doesn't give up on us, nor will he ever. When we ask for forgiveness, he washes us clean from our shortcomings, our failures, our choices to do things we shouldn't.
And just like a dirty plate once soiled with leftover food now shines like new, so do our hearts, souls and minds. We glow when we're forgiven. It's a wonderful feeling to be forgiven, to be cleansed by the Lord.
Then, I reflected upon some of the times Jesus forgave when he was on earth.
Three come to mind at this particular Holy season. In the book of John, chapters 18 through 21, we learn of how Jesus forgave Peter, a disciple that truly loved the Lord. But he denied Him three times during Jesus' trial. Jesus forgave him and Peter later became "the rock" of the early church as Jesus Himself had proclaimed. He spread the Gospel to unforgiven sinners and later wrote 1 and 2 Peter we read in the Holy Scriptures today. How might the story have ended if Jesus had not forgiven his beloved disciple?
The second account about Jesus forgiving another is the one about the criminal on the cross. A suffering sinless Christ had mercy on a sinner who turned to Christ for forgiveness. The condemned man believed Jesus could save him. It was faith that saved this man who hung in shame beside the Son of God. And is proof that our deeds do not save us.
The third example is astounding in many ways. We read about it in Luke 23, verse 34. "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing," Jesus said, as He hung on the cross, suffering, bleeding, feeling rejected and alone. To me, this shows how powerful and yet how kind and gentle the love and mercy of Christ really is. And to take it a step further, demonstrated His understanding of what it means to be a human being.
Upon further reflection, there is a verse familiar to many about forgiveness. In Matthew, Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to seventy times seven."
Have I washed my dishes clean seventy times seven - I am not sure. But I think what Jesus was saying was to forgive many times - too many times to count. That's how many times you forgive. Has He not done that for us?
Next time you find yourself complaining about washing dishes, think about how many times Jesus has washed your sins away and not complained. And be thankful He does!
p.s. There's one important difference to note however. Some day, we may not be able to wash dishes anymore and make them clean because of poor health. But Jesus is unchanging, remaining firm and strong for us. He is there to forgive if we confess our sins, ask for forgiveness and believe He truly can make us white as snow".
By the way, we have snow on the ground today too - that's a whole other reflection:-)