“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing Love; according to Your great compassion blot out my iniquities.” (Psalm 51 – The Psalm for Wednesday in Holy Week)
It is a common misconception that forgiveness of sins comes when you ask for it. For instance, many Christians mistakenly think that they get forgiveness whenever they pray the Lord’s Prayer. But this, then, raises a couple of troubling questions: what if you forget to ask? What if you are day-dreaming during that part of the Lord’s Prayer? Are you then not forgiven?
Psalm 51 is all about the forgiveness of sins, but never once does David actually ask for the Lord to forgive him. Rather, what David implores the Lord is that He have mercy upon him; and according to His unfailing love to blot out his transgressions. You don’t get forgiveness by asking for it. You are forgiven because the Lord is merciful to you, when He, in His mercy, blots out all your transgressions from His sight.
For this “blotting out” however, only blood will do. On the night of the first Passover, the blood of a lamb is splashed on the doorposts of the houses with a hyssop branch. It is the blood of the lamb, not the prayers of the people, that blots out their transgressions from the eyes of the Lord.
On the Day of Atonement, it is the blood of the lamb that is sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant (the “mercy seat”) with a hyssop branch. Again, it is the blood of the lamb, not the prayers of the people, that blots out their transgressions from the eyes of the Lord.
On Good Friday, the Blood of the Lamb of God is shed. And as the Blood of the final Passover Lamb covers His Body – as the Blood of the final “Day of Atonement” Sacrifice sprinkles His own Flesh for you – the hyssop branch, soaked through with your sin is raised to His lips as He drinks all of your filth into Himself.
Now the instrument of forgiveness is the hand of your pastor, sprinkling it on the one being Baptized. It is now the chalice, which pours out the Blood of the Sacrifice. And as the Blood of the Lamb is poured on you and in you, your sin is blotted out from the eyes of the Father forever. In he Name of Jesus. Amen.
Daily Lectionary: Exodus 10:21-11:10; Hebrews 4:1-16
Readings for the Day: Is. 62:11-63:7; Rev. 1:5b-7; St. Luke 22:1-23:56
Lenten Reflections have been written by Reverend Daniel J. Feusse. Pastor Feusse is pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church in Clearwater, NE.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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