I was reminiscing over the ’85 Bears recently. ESPN aired a 30 for 30 production all about that remarkable team. It was fun to remember the crazy cast of characters in that team from Mongo, to the Fridge, to Jim McMahon. It was fun to see how dominant the defense was, and the highlight reel of sacks and forced fumbles.
But one storyline really sticks out, and that is how it all came to an end. It was a 1986 Bears vs Packers game. Bears looked like a team that could easily repeat as Super Bowl winners. Until…a Packer named Charles Martin body slams Jim McMahon after the play was over. McMahon suffers a shoulder injury that sidelines him for the season. No repeat Super Bowl win, no more glory days, no more rings. The action of Charles Martin reminds me of the worst things one can do.
Yet, let me tell you something worse. God sends his Son, the Son he loves and the Son who has come to rescue the world. And a group of people call for his execution in the most brutal way imaginable. A group yells, “crucify” and gets heard. The Son of God is put to death and the group that put him on the cross now mocks him as he dies. This is perhaps the worst that one can do.
Peter, a disciple of Jesus, would then come face to face with that same group 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. And on the day of Pentecost he would call them out saying, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36) He accuses them of Jesus’ crucifixion. And perhaps he saw in the crowd the same people who were yelling for his death and mocking him that day.
I wonder what is your worst? Do you have a Charles Martin moment in your past? Something that you are ashamed and guilty of? Something that you wish you never did? Something maybe you’re not even sure God would forgive?
If so I have good news. The story goes on and Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) Basically, Peter is offering pardon for the worst sin imaginable. He’s saying all will be square with you and God, even for killing his Son, if you just repent and be baptized.
And the simple truth is the offer still stands. Repent and be baptized and your worst is pardoned. Whatever your worst is. For Jesus has won our forgiveness!
So what does it mean to repent and be baptized?
Repentance has 3 parts to it. The first is sorrow over what you did. That you own what you did was wrong. The second is that you trust in forgiveness. You believe that when Jesus died on the cross he paid for your sin. You believe that your sin is then paid for once and for all, and no payment by you needs to be made. The third is that you resolve not to continue in a path of sin, but out of thanks choose to serve the Lord.
And what is Baptism? It’s the grace of God given through the water and His Word. In the book of Titus chapter 3 it is called it the “washing of rebirth and renewal” It is where he forgives our sins and grants new spiritual life. As the Apostle Paul was told “Be baptized and wash your sins away.” (Acts 22:16)
I love serving a God who can handle and forgive my worst. I love that he then calls everyone and all to receive this good news and this pardon. May God bless your week!