… you are completely forgiven!
When was the prodigal son forgiven? Some people say that he was forgiven before he returned home, as evidenced by the father watching for his return. Some say that he wasn’t forgiven until he came home. Believe it or not, this is a current topic of theological discussion.
But does it matter? What matters is that the father’s heart toward his son was not focused on the son’s sin. He loved his son and wanted him home. What he had done made no real difference. Remember that, in the story, the father never sent the son away. The son’s heart was pulled away from his father by the lures of the world and the son followed the bait. The sin was never the issue. The father was focused on the relationship.
It is true that Jesus went to the cross to wash away our sins. But that was a consequence of His real mission. He gave His life for ours—an exchange, if you will—so that we, who were dead, could live in and through Him. He came to save us. The heart of the Father was full of forgiveness toward us. He desired a restored relationship between us and Him. That’s why Jesus came.
The Christian life and the gospel message do not focus on sin. Sin is what the wandering heart does. It is the normal activity of the heart and mind apart from the Lord. Just because some people cannot look past sin does not mean that God cannot look past it. In fact, He simply washes it away. His focus is on relationship.
If you belong to Jesus, you are completely forgiven. There is nothing more for you to do. You don’t have to be more sorry or do more penance or pray for more forgiveness. The work of Jesus on the cross is complete and is yours because of Him.
Yes, I understand that some of your sins are big ones and that some might still be hidden. But listen: nothing is too big for Him and He knows every single one. He has already welcomed you into relationship with Himself. Even if you have earthly accounts to settle, the account with Him is clear. There is no sin on your account with God . . . because of Jesus!
But what if you don’t belong to Jesus? What if you have not come to Him to receive His love and have no relationship with Him? You can! He is watching for you, desiring that you would come. He is not focused on your sins, but on your heart. He loves you and He calls to you.
And when you come, you will find that your sins are forgiven. Jesus gave His life for you, too. You will be welcome and nothing will be on your account against you.
This is love that keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus just wants you with Him.