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Merciful Reconciliation

Journal Entry // April 9, 2023

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. [26] Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (ESV)

Matthew 5:25-26

Jesus is now ending this section on anger with a real-world example of how important and prudent reconciliation is in our relationships. Jesus is commending the person who understands the necessity of reconciliation before it is too late. In this case, the person who is being called to court before a judge is exhorted to reconcile with his accuser way before the judge has an opportunity to put him in prison. I have read this verse so many times, but this is probably the first time I have noticed that the person going to court to face his accuser is actually guilty. There is an assumption in this story that the judge is going to place the man in prison if he is not reconciled with his accuser. It’s not a matter of mediation or compromise, it is reconciliation through mercy and grace. In this, Jesus is showing us that we are the ones in desperate need of spiritual reconciliation with God.  We are the ones on the way to court with our accuser and we already stand guilty before the judge. Yet, God in his unlimited mercy and grace offers us reconciliation and mercy through the saving work of Christ on the cross.

As I deal with the anger and bitterness of my own heart as it relates to others, I find myself lacking and mired in sin. I see my heart continuing to be puffed up with pride and self-righteousness. I know that I am that man in need of reconciliation. I am that man who desperately needs a Savior. The promise from this statement is that there is forgiveness found only in Jesus. I can at any moment, repent and believe. I can turn from the bent of disobedience and bitterness and embrace Jesus. He has promised to forgive me not just seven times, but seventy times seven times!

What a beautiful picture this is of the grace and mercy of God. Jesus faced my accuser on the cross and endured the penalty for my sin. The full penalty for my sin. As I turn to Jesus in humility seeking his forgiveness, he freely and joyously gives me new life. He comes to reside within my heart! What an amazing life-changing moment. The moment that the God of the universe comes to abide with me. This is not some distant God who leaves everything to chance and hopes I figure it out. He takes away my old heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. A heart that he then abides within.

I don’t fully engage with this as I should. I don’t truly understand the depth of love that Jesus has for me. He inhabits my heart. He lives within me. He is here with me even now. When I falter and stumble along this journey and become wayward, he is still with me. Even in my waywardness, he is with me. That is astounding. As the psalmist says that even in the depths of Sheol, He will not leave me nor forsake me. Do I believe this?

I want to believe this, Lord help my unbelief. It sometimes feels as though I am walking the road with my accuser and trying to make a compromise or do something worthy to earn mercy. I so often forget that my sin has been dealt with once and for all on the cross. That each and every sin of mine has been laid on the body of Jesus upon the cross. His perfect sacrifice perfectly paid and atoned for my every sin. Not just the big ones, but the small ones as well. Not just the ones I know about, but even the ones that are hidden from me at the moment. There is no sin remaining that Christ has not shed his precious blood.

So I can walk in humility and relationship and companionship with my Lord and Savior. There is no need to prove myself before him. I can just be me. Isn’t that an amazing thought? I have no need to pretend or wear a mask before Jesus because he knows my every sin. He knows and understands. He has seen the depth of the darkness of my heart and shouted forgiveness into the depths of my soul. My accuser has been satisfied and my life is now wrapped in the righteousness of Christ alone. He loves me… fully and completely.

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