Matins Devotion: March 6, 2023
There’s nothing more terrifying than a bad conscience. There’s nothing ghostlier, nothing that haunts us more than the guilt over our sin. We see this in our reading from Mark this morning, in Herod’s response to hearing about the miraculous ministry of Jesus. Surely this must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. Surely this evil thing he did is going to come back to him. Surely beheading the prophet to please the godless women in his life is not going to go unpunished. Surely this supposedly resurrected prophet is going to use his newfound miraculous powers to tear Herod to pieces. Here, Herod has the promise of forgiveness surrounding him, the promise of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah who has come to forgive murderers like him. But in his guilt, Herod only hears the ghostly sounds of his sin.
So it is for us. When we reject and betray others, we become convinced that others are going to reject and betray us. When we use people and throw them away, we expect them to do likewise. Why do we keep our distance from our fellow Christians, isolating ourselves from their love and support? Because we’ve hurt other people, and we expect to be hurt in return. Why do we assume that those who call us to repentance hate us and simply want to use God’s word to condemn us? Because we’ve used God’s word to hate and condemn the innocent in our lives. Haunted by the grief of our sins, the words of Jesus become terrifying to us.
Don’t be like Herod. Let go of your grief. Turn away from your self-terrifying foolishness, and listen to the words of your Lord. Jesus has not come to condemn you, but to love you, to save you, to pour out the mercy of God upon you. Jesus has come not to haunt you with your sins. He’s come to kill those sins, to make ghosts of your transgressions, not you. Be at peace. You are not Herod in the eyes of God. You are holy, perfect and pure, cleansed by the blood of your Lord who is no ghost because He triumphed over death and walked out of the tomb.