I have always love story of Jesus being left behind at the temple. As a child, I liked it because I had a tendency of getting separated from my parents at the store. While they never left me behind (certainly not for 3 days), I always felt good knowing that Jesus also got separated from His parents.
A few days ago (which in Twitter time is like almost a year) I read an amazing quote that Pastor Rick Warren put on Twitter. It said: “Before you sin Satan says ‘It’s no big deal!’ Afterwards he says ‘This is so big, you can never be forgiven’ Both lies.” Wow, that comment floored me. It is so easy to listen to the enemy when he is speaking these specific lies. How many times have you thought that doing something you know is wrong is “not a big deal”? How guilty and shameful did you felt afterwords? I can say that this is all too familiar story for me.
There is good news here. Anytime the enemy speaks, it is a lie. His native tongue is lies, it is all he can do. Are you ready for the truth? First truth: Sin is a big deal. It is what separates us from God. Minus the cross, sin means death; not physical death but spiritual death. Also, for sin to be forgiven, sacrifices had to be made. First, it was a lamb, then it was Jesus, God’s son. Sin is a big deal.
Second truth: you can be forgiven, in fact, you were already forgiven before you committed your sin. It is easy in the moment to succumb to guilt and self-condemnation, and not ask for forgiveness. However, God is ready to accept us back and forgive us the moment that we are ready to come back to Him-no matter how big or small the sin is. He sent his Son to die for our sins. Do you think that after he paid such a huge price for the forgiveness of our sins that God would want to withhold His forgiveness?
I am reminded of a cheesy story with a great point. An older woman was praying one morning and Jesus appeared to her. Puzzled, she called her pastor and explained the vision to him and asked, “did Jesus really appear to me?” His answer, “If it happens again ask him something about yourself that only he would know.” The next day, it happened again. In her vision she asked Jesus, “What sin did I commit yesterday?” His response? “I don’t know.” She walked away from that encounter confident that she had seen Jesus. Though this is not a true story (that I know of), it is an accurate picture of God’s amazing forgiveness power (Psalm 103:12)
Third truth: God will not be taken advantage of. Though His forgiveness is great, Paul made it clear that God’s grace is a wonderful gift, but adds this “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:1-2). The writer of Hebrews takes it a bit further: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:26).
Fourth Truth: just like Mary and Joseph made parenting mistakes, and everyone is bound to do that, so too have we fallen into sin patterns. If we can move on from our sin patterns, we can do amazing things for God. Even if we don’t God can still use us to do amazing things.
As an adult and a father to be, I love the story of Jesus being left behind because it gives me the reassurance that though my child will not be a perfect child, he still has a chance to grow up and do great things. I’m not saying that Mary and Joseph were lousy parents, because I do not think they were. I’m just saying they made a mistake-like we all do. They were not perfect, and we are not perfect.