Thursday February 18 – Day 2 –  AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME

 In Lenten Devotional

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

Currently, Rose-Frances and I are watching a TV series on Netflix called “Peaky Blinders”.  It is about the Shelby family that, for lack of a better term, are the mafia or family mob in Birmingham, England.  It is not an easy watch, as it is set just after World War 1 and depicts violence and sex, and the colours used in the sets and costumes are very dark and bleak.  The kingpin of the family mob, Thomas, gets into some very shady dealings with those who have very little morals and scruples.  However it is the characters, and they way in which they deal with the challenges of each episode, are what keep the two of us watching: we want to see redemption happen within each character and the situation.

To redeem something can be defined as “the action of being saved from sin, error, or evil”, as well as “the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for payment or clearing a debt” (Oxford Online Dictionary).

Redemption is a concept that I find is harder for our world to understand.  Most people have no desire to be saved from their own sins, errors or personal evil.  Some in fact revel in their state that they do not wish to be saved.

How often do I hear parents of young children say that their children do not know how to say sorry EVEN if they have done something wrong.  Especially if something happens that was not intended BUT their actions caused a situation in need of an apology, they have difficulty in surrendering one.

“Peaky Blinders”, in spite of the darkness and the morally questionable actions depicted in the series, outlines one redemption-like quality you DO notice.  In every mob family depicted in the show, there is one thing more important to them than anything else: love of, and protection of, the family.

Each member is important and valued, no matter what mistakes they have made.  Sins are always overlooked with a family member.  And if someone intends harm for a family member, then watch out.  If a family member is killed by another mob or family, there is always a “pay back”.  There is always vengeance.  The problem with vengeance is, once you start on this path it never stops.  It keeps growing until all the members of the fighting families are buried six feet down under.

This is not redemption, although the world may THINK that vengeance is equal to redemption.

Redemption is when you are saved from a situation that may or may not be of your own choosing, in order to live again.

Jesus’ death on the cross was nothing short of controversial.  At the time, the Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah, and many of them expected the saviour to be a violent revolutionary figure that would right the wrongs they endured.

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

However, God plotted a different path for Jesus.

This path meant suffering, pain and humiliation for the Son of God.  Jesus did not deserve to be nailed to a cross for what He had done.  He had not killed the member of an enemy family, nor had He broken any Roman laws.

What He chose to do, by His own strength, was to do the will of the Father who had sent Him.  No matter what it cost Him.

THIS is redemption.  Jesus, taking the action to regain possession of those who have lost their way so that those who believe in Him would be released from the hands of the evil one.  Sin would no longer have to be paid for in blood, because Jesus’ blood made the final sacrifice needed.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I have not killed anyone, however I recognize my own sinful nature.  The worst thing I think I can do is to deny this fundamental truth: I am ungodly.  Yes, I have moments where I feel close to God and might seem to be a holy man to some.  But the reality is, I make decisions in my life based on ME.  I have not laid down my life for a friend, or even an enemy and yet Jesus died for me.  He died for those who know Him, and He died for those who want no part of Him.

Jesus died for those who have committed the most grievous and despicable crimes known to humanity that we would have no problem condemning or wishing their own demise.

“At just the right time.”

During Lent, it is important for me that I recognize that it is the right time to claim that Jesus died FOR ME.  I do not compare myself to anyone else.  I recognize that Jesus has saved me in order that I can live again. It does not mean that I won’t make mistakes, but it means that each time I fall, His open arms remind me that there is hope. I can move forward towards Jesus.  This is grace.

May we today, on day two of our Lenten devotional, take our second step towards Jesus be an acknowledgment of what He has done for all of us, and that no one in the world is more or less deserving of redemption.

All are welcome to be washed clean again.

We are ALL loved.

While we were ALL still sinners, Jesus died…

For me.

For us.

For the world.

May this truth fuel how we see the world around us, as dark as it may seem sometimes, as the world that He so loves.  May we respond by inviting those who do not acknowledge Jesus to join us in this Lenten journey with us.

Be blessed, church. See you tomorrow.

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