Lent 1 Midweek—What is Confession? (Mk 14:1–25)

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: People try to hide their sins from God.))

Human beings always try to cover up their sins. People don’t just sin. They also try to hide their sins from God and from one another. It’s been that way from Adam and Eve. After eating what they were commanded not to eat, they didn’t just hide their shame from each other by making clothes from fig leaves. They hid “from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” They also tried to hide their sins by blaming others. Adam blamed God and Eve. Eve blamed the devil.

Keep sins hidden. That’s where we like them. Hidden so we can keep on doing them. Hidden from others. Hidden from God. Hidden so we don’t get in trouble or punished for them. That’s what human beings try to do.

That’s how it was with the people in our reading this evening. “The Chief Priests and Scribes” wanted to murder Jesus. But they had to keep it quiet, keep it hidden from the people. They couldn’t openly act on their murderous plans “lest there be an uproar from the people.”

Judas, too, kept his sins hidden. Not only secretly plotting to betray Jesus for money, but he was the one who started the complaint about the woman! Judas first complained about not selling the ointment and giving the money to the poor. John tells us in his Gospel that Judas “said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

Their complaint about the woman basically was that she didn’t know how to love her neighbor properly like they did! Complaining about other people is the best way people know how to keep their own sins hidden! Hide them with other people’s sins. Then that other person will get in trouble. Adam shifted blame to God and Eve, Eve to the devil, Judas and the others to the woman.

The game’s the same. Hide your sins to keep on doing them or to avoid judgment. If all that fails, well, then just change sins into virtues that must be praised by everyone. Today, the world is full of doing that, always has been. After all, human beings always try to cover up their sins.

((4. Ugh!: Where do you try to hide your sins?))

So, where do you try to hide your sins? What hidden sins do you have that you try so very hard to keep that way? Lack of faith in God or His promises? Hatred, resentment, grudge against someone in your life? Gossip? Lust? Theft? Lies? Hatred of yourself? What is it?

And what’s your preferred covering? Cloak your life in a veneer of Christianity, using Jesus and His forgiveness as license to keep doing what you’re doing? Judgment of others? Comparing yourself to them? Is it doing good for others to make up for your bad? As if helping someone makes up for failing God, or doing something for God excuses you for failing to do good to those around you. Is it more self-destructive ways to forget yourself, your sins, your past, your present? How do you try to hide your sins?

Keeping your sins hidden. That’s what you do, because you’re human. That doesn’t get you off the hook. It just explains why you do what you do. Ignore your sins. Make up for them. Anything to cover them up. To keep doing them or to bury those skeletons deep in the closet. We all have one! Then there’s also the sins we do daily and much, but we don’t have any clue about them!

((3. Aha!: JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS AND FORGIVES YOU.))

It’s stupid for us to try to hide our sins! Think about it: Adam and Eve tried to hide from the Creator of the universe behind a tree. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. But you can’t hide your sins from Jesus. He knows them. He knew what they were thinking about the woman. He knew Judas would betray Him, His disciples would abandon Him, and Peter would deny Him. He knows everything, and He knows everything about you.

And the sins you keep locked away in your mind or enshrined on your heart, the sin you do when you think no one’s there, no one knows—well, Jesus is there. Jesus knows! He knows everything and everything about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He and His Father “knit you together in your mother’s womb.” He knows the deepest, darkest things. Every sin. Every desire. Every thought, word, and deed. He knows you inside and out, backwards and forwards, too to bottom, past, present, future.

He knows you. Yes, JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS, AND HE FORGIVES YOU.

((2. Whee!: So He was betrayed and killed for you.))

JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS AND FORGIVES YOU. That’s what Lent’s all about! That’s what the Christian faith’s all about. That’s what Jesus’ was all about in our Passion readings from Mark! It’s why they’re called readings about His Passion or Suffering. He suffers Himself to be rejected, suffers Himself to be betrayed by Judas, suffers Himself to be killed at the hands of the Chief Priests and Scribes, through the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.

He wins forgiveness for you. “He was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification,” Paul says. “The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins,” John tells us, “even those we are not aware of.” Jesus’ blood fulfills the prayer from Psalm 19: “Cleanse me from hidden faults.” “You were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,” Peter tells us.

Yes, JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS, AND HE FORGIVES THEM. He is betrayed, crucified, killed for them, for you. In His blood and death He earns forgiveness. JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS, but Jesus, who knows everything, through His blood, oddly enough, doesn’t know your sins anymore. Jesus promises through the Prophet Jeremiah, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Outside faith in Him, apart from His forgiveness, well, there’s only your sin…

((1. Yeah!: He also delivers that cross-won forgiveness to you.))

But Jesus doesn’t want you to be apart from Him. You don’t need to hide from Jesus, hide your sins from Him. One, you can’t. JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS. But there’s no reason to be afraid of unloading your sins. “If we confess our sin,” He won’t condemn us, but rather “He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” HE FORGIVES YOU.

Jesus forgiving your sins is why He wants you to have His cross-won forgiveness. There’s no forgiveness at Calvary that you’ve got to go get with the right kind of confession. But why would you hold anything back? “Will God who declares innocent bring a charge against His own chosen children?” (Rom 8) There’s nothing you’ve got to do in your emotions, your thoughts, words, or behavior to get at that forgiveness. Jesus cuts through all that! He simply delivers His cross-won forgiveness to you.

As we’re told in our reading, He delivers forgiveness through the Sacrament of His body and blood, “which is poured out for many,” for you. But it’s also delivered right to you, right into your heart, soul, and mind, through your ears in the Absolution. Absolution is “forgiveness from the pastor as from God Himself.” That’s what Jesus tells us in John 20.

You don’t need to hide your sins in any way! Jesus forgives them. He wants His forgiveness to come specifically to you. Yes, you. Just you. It’s why you’ve got me! If Jesus won’t condemn you, why would I? When you “receive absolution, that is, forgiveness from the pastor, as from God Himself…by it your sins are forgiven before God in heaven.” Or you could keep trying to hide them, but then you’d just keep on “deceiving yourself.”

Why doubt? Why be afraid? Fear and doubt and not receiving forgiveness because “I don’t have to” are just more fig leaves we sew together for ourselves to hide our sin and shame. But the Jesus you have is the JESUS WHO KNOWS YOUR SINS AND FORGIVES YOU. Forgives you His way, His place, His Man. His Calvary. His Supper. His Pastor and his Absolution. All for you.

INI + AMEN.

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