Sermon from 15th Apr 2022 (Good Friday)

Hebrews 10:16-25 (EHV)

16 This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord.

I will put my laws on their hearts and I will write them on their mind. Jer 31:33

17 Then he adds:

And I will not remember their sins and their lawlessness any longer. Jer 31:34

18 Now where these sins are forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

19 Brothers, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus. 20 It is a new and living way he opened for us through the curtain, that is, his flesh. 21 We also have a great priest over the house of God. 22 So let us approach with a sincere heart, in the full confidence of faith, because our hearts have been sprinkled to take away a bad conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold on firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.

24 Let us also consider carefully how to spur each other on to love and good works. 25 Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have the habit of doing. Rather, let us encourage each other, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dear heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so we may have true peace when we remember you will no longer remember our sins for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lest we forget.

Every year we try to remember the sacrifice of soldiers who paid the ultimate price for people’s freedom. We try to remember because to forget would mean their sacrifice isn’t very important anymore. To forget would mean their death is now meaningless. To forget would mean the life they never lived wasn’t a big loss after all. And so, we remember, in order to honour their life, their service, and their death for our peace.

Lest we forget.

Every year we try to remember the anniversaries of our loved ones – either their birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or even the anniversary of their death. We try to remember because, if we forget, well, the repercussions could be expensive! Because, to forget may be interpreted to mean we don’t love them. To forget may mean they’re not important to us any more. And so, we remember, in order to show our love for them and to honour our memories of them.

Lest we forget.

Every day we tend to remember what people have done to us. We try not to remember, but we can’t seem to forget how they hurt us. As we remember, we not only think about what happened, but we relive the emotions and the pain whenever we see them, hear them, or hear of them. To forget seems too hard and impossible. To forget may mean we’re letting them get away with it, or even giving them permission to do it again. And so, we remember, by holding grudges against them, yelling at them, telling others about them, or by avoiding them.

Lest we forget.

Every day our own memories of what we’ve done or said which hurt others can haunt us, and we can struggle to live with ourselves. We don’t have to try too hard to remember, but can often be reminded about our failures, our faults, our inabilities, and our wrongs. We try to put these things behind us and ‘just move on’, but we can’t seem to, because we can’t forget. Our sin is often before us and behind us and within us. And so, we remember…which means we struggle to forgive ourselves or receive forgiveness from others.

Lest we forget.

Today, like every year, we remember the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price of blood and death for the forgiveness of our sins. We try to remember because to forget would mean his sacrifice no longer has any meaning for our life, forgiveness, or salvation. To forget would mean we no longer recognise the high cost paid to reconcile us with God and each other. To forget would mean other things and other people have now been given first place in our lives. And so, we remember…lest we forget.

Yet, in a strange twist, you come here today to remember that God no longer remembers your sins and lawless acts. In this case, Good Friday is a bit like: Lest we forget…that God no longer remembers!

Now, it’s not really that God has forgotten what you’ve done (because God doesn’t have a form of dementia), but he chooses to no longer remember, recall, or dwell on your sins. Because you’ve been forgiven by Christ, he’s no longer thinking about what you’ve done. He’s not telling everyone else about what you’ve done. And he doesn’t remind you about all your past sins and wrongs again and again to make you feel bad.

If there’s anyone making you feel bad about what you’ve done, well, that’s all done by your greatest enemies who do want you to remember, such as:

  • the devil, who wants you to despair of God’s words, God’s promises, God’s forgiveness, God’s choice to no longer remember your sins, and God’s love for you;
  • the world, who always wants someone to pay for their crimes, and so can’t stand the fact you’re forgiven and no longer need to pay the full punishment for what you’ve done and said and thought; and
  • yourself, because your troubled conscience won’t allow yourself to receive and accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.

On the other hand, the only past God does want you to remember, is the suffering and death of his own dearly beloved Son for the forgiveness of your sins…lest you forget!

God wants to keep reminding you his beloved Son, Jesus, who paid the full price for your sins. He wants you to remember that, while you’re covered by the blood of Jesus through faith, your crimes have been fully paid for. This means there’s no longer any reason for God to recall or remind himself of your sins, and there’s no longer any need for him to remind you about what you’ve done.

Because God chooses to no longer recall, re-live, or remember your sin, he’s at peace with you and you’re at peace with him. There’s no longer anything hindering your relationship with God, but you have free and open access to his gracious gifts. You’re to no longer let the memory or re-lived emotions of your sins to get in the way of your peace with God. Sin is no longer a barrier between you and God because the sin is no longer recalled or dwelt on.

Because of God’s amazing grace, he’s not only forgiven you and chosen not to remember your sins, but he’s also chosen not to remember the sins of everyone else who looks to him in faith.

For this reason, God not only wants you to remember that God no longer remembers your sins, but he also wants you to remember he no longer remembers the sins of those people who have hurt you when they also look to Jesus in faith. All their sins are also covered and paid for by Jesus’ blood, which means their sins should no longer be a barrier between you and them.

In this way, we who remember that God no longer remembers sin, are a forgiven and forgiving community of faith who keep remembering the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

We keep coming together to encourage each other with God’s forgiveness and build up each other’s faith which remembers God no longer remembers yours and my sins.

With God’s help, we also choose to no longer recall and dwell on each other’s sins because we keep receiving, and passing on, Christ’s forgiveness of sins to each other. This worshipping community therefore gathers regularly to be reminded (and to remind each other), how God no longer remembers our sins and lawless acts.

In a sense we’re not just a worshipping community, but we’re a remembering community who remember what God’s done for us through the washing of baptism into Jesus and keep on receiving the sprinkling of blood on our hearts through the reception of Holy Communion. Both of these divine acts of grace, received and remembered in faith, frees us all from a troubled conscience.

Living in this grace, the members of this worshipping-remembering community care deeply for those who neglect to meet together with us because, as frail and helpless humans, we know if we stop remembering what God does for us, we’ll naturally instead tend to remember, and dwell on, all the wrongs done against us.

This means our lack of peace with each other isn’t because we no longer remember, but because we choose to remember the wrong things.

We choose to remember the way people hurt us, how much they’ve betrayed us, how many times they’ve let us down, how they lied to us or misunderstood us, or how they weren’t there for us when we needed them.

When we do this, our remembering isn’t just a mental exercise. Our remembering causes us to relive what we remember – including all the pain, all the mental images, all the emotions, and so on. When we remember sin, it becomes a present experience instead of an historical event. When we remember and relive the pain of sin, we still demand punishment, which means we’ve forgotten Jesus’ suffering and death was enough.

And Jesus’ suffering and death was enough to pay for your sins and my sins and their sins. God chooses not to remember your sin and my sin and their sin because he chooses to instead remember his own dear Son has completed, finished, and fully satisfied the full debt of sin by his vicarious suffering and death. There’s no more debt to be paid. Because if there was any more debt to be paid, then the death of Jesus wasn’t enough and we reduce the glory of his suffering and death.

When we remember that God no longer remembers our sin, and their sin, those sins no longer have such power to affect our lives.

Sure, we may not completely forget our own sins (or the sins of those around us), but the more frequently we remember that God no longer remembers sin, those sins will become less and less powerful to enslave us into fear and hatred once again.

This knowledge and memory of God’s choice to no longer remember gives us a clear conscience before God and each other.

We can have a clear conscience before God because we no longer have to forgive ourselves. We instead let God have the final word on our forgiveness, and he says he no longer remembers our sins and lawless acts.

Therefore, while we can learn from our own past sins or those sins which have been done against us, none of us need to remember and dwell on our failures and faults and regrets. We also no longer need to dwell on and relive the sins which have been done against us. What we need to remember is that God no longer remembers. Let God have the final word on whether any sin should be remembered or not!

Because Jesus has obediently submitted himself to suffering and dying on the cross as the perfect once-for-all sacrifice for your sin, and the sins of the whole world, God promises you’re forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, through faith, and he won’t remember, dwell on, or remind you of your sins anymore.

Because you’re forgiven, you can have complete confidence you can walk right up to God without fear knowing you’re covered with the innocent blood of Jesus. You know your hearts have been made new and clean through faith in God’s forgiveness so you can live as free people – freed from the chains of remembered sin.

You can do this because you know and remember God loves you so much he sent his only begotten Son into this world to pay for your sin. His sacrifice is enough. The payment for your sin is finished, completed, and fulfilled. God chooses to no longer remember what you’ve done…lest you forget!

For this reason, may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds as you remember your Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.