And Jesus said, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
In that hour, when He was facing His imminent arrest, brutal beating and murder by crucifixion, Jesus was still teaching His beloved disciples and friends the crucial importance of staying close to the Father. He was reminding them that as long as they were in the flesh in this world they would need to continually and perpetually press into a relationship with Him.
It is the same for us. Until He comes again, we are in a fallen and broken world, and we are tempted by all kinds of fears to take our eyes off the victorious One who conquered sin and death. We are tempted by our own self-interest to grow cold in our love for His family. And in order to stay free from temptation, we must return to Him again and again, and practice being close enough to receive forgiveness and be washed clean.
Why do I say “being close enough to receive forgiveness”? Because it isn’t something you receive from a distance. It isn’t an idea or a concept. It is actually an intimate happening between a human heart and the heart of God. If you’ve ever accepted the gift of forgiveness after walking through the door of repentance, you will know precisely what I’m talking about. It is specific. It is eminently timely and relevant. And the power of it is real.
He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and I believe the most important tool in the knapsack is access to forgiveness through repentance — that kind invitation He gives to come and be made whole. Indeed His mercies are new every day. They are new every day because we need them – every day. And there is absolutely no shame in that. He understands our frailty, our weakness. He has ordained that in our weakness — the one we are willing to be honest about, the one that we acknowledge does not line up with the heart and will of God — in that very place, He can be glorified as He cleans us up, empowers us, and sends us out to spread the good news.
Until next week, fellow pilgrim, come often to the altar and receive mercy and grace.