“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! – Matthew 23:37 ESV
Jesus uttered these words while looking over the city of Jerusalem while He was here on earth. In this one sentence, we can see how God’s forgiveness applies, not just to the city of Jerusalem, but to all of us.
The first things that Jesus brings up here is their rebellion and sin. He points out their sin and acknowledges their issues. Then what? He yells at them? Asks them, “How could you have done this after all the things I’ve done for you?” No! The very next thing is his heartbroken words about how much He wants to be with them. He would have gathered them close, and sheltered them under his loving, protecting wing. The people were not willing, but God was ready to run after them, love them and forgive them.
So often when we are thinking of our own sins and issues, we think that God needs to correct us or change us or demand more from us before he forgives us, but it’s just not true. God sees all our issues, more clearly even than we do. He isn’t a clueless parent who doesn’t know what we’re doing on the weekends with our friends. He can see the visible sins and the invisible ones. He knows everything about us. And it’s in this moment, the one where He’s looking into the darkest, nastiest corner of our hearts that He is longing with His whole self to forgive us. All He wants in that moment is for us to turn to Him and raise our arms to Him like a little child wanting to be gathered up.
We are the ones who need to choose to be willing to be forgiven. God is always willing; we are the ones whose pride and insecurities and selfishness get in the way of the work He wants to do in our heart. God loves us. Not just in a theoretical sense or in a disconnected sense or out of a sense of obligation. He’s in love with you. He finds joy in being in your presence, just like we find joy in being in the presence of those we love. He wants to be with you and be close to you. In addition to all this, He also knows how much more content and full of joy we’ll be when we accept His forgiveness and walk closely with Him.
God will work on our issues once we’re safe in His arms. He will talk to us about the changes that we need to make to become more helpful to others around us. All those things will be taken care of when we submit to walking with Him. But first, before all that, we must be willing to be forgiven and jump in to the loving arms of our father.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 ESV