John 19:16-42; 2 Chronicles 30; Psalm 86
Some would obey the rules fastidiously. Their hands are clean. They haven’t defiled themselves by being around the wrong kind of people. These are the religiously upright who recognize the importance of the Passover. They won’t let anything prevent them from eating the Passover meal – no matter what they had to do. When they brought Jesus to Pilate, they wouldn’t even enter the building to keep themselves “clean” while they arranged for the murder of Jesus. When Hezekiah became king he commanded that the people observe the Passover. Talk about doing it wrong though! The leaders needed an extra month to be sure that they had enough clean Levites and priests to perform the ceremonies so they celebrated a month late. Hezekiah opened the doors to anyone to celebrate, including those from the tribes that had broken away from Judah. And come they did. And oh, what a manner they came in! “For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.’ And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chronicles 30:18-20) They weren’t clean…but they came with contrite hearts. They weren’t clean, but they came in the attitude of worship. In God’s eyes, the unclean masses who came with the right attitude were exalted, blessed and healed. The Pharisees in the days of Jesus who followed the book, but without the right attitude, celebrated a hollow feast. We have many people today who follow all the rules and regulations of their faith. We also have those who mess up and just can’t seem to do anything right religiously. God knows and sees the hearts, though. Those who come to Him with contrite hearts are cleansed and healed. Those who come in their own pride wanting God to see how good they are have empty experiences. May we always come to God in repentance and faith.
O Lord, how easily I look at myself and think about how lucky You are to have me as one of Your followers. Remind me that I am always in need of Your grace and forgiveness. Remind me that nothing I do can make You love me more and that I need to come to You with a humble spirit. Remind me to come seeking forgiveness for my sins instead of justification for my actions.