Guilt and Innocence - a free devotion for Lent

Imagine walking into a mall. As you pass by a digital advertising display, you hear your name. The advertisement asks you how you enjoyed the jeans you recently purchased. Then, it suggests a shirt to go with them. The shirt is on sale - just $19.99. This scene from a science-fiction movie is actually coming closer to reality.

Imagine what would happen, however, if there were another kind of computer system. One that, instead of reading your clothing or your face, read your heart. We could call it “heart-recognition software.” What you were thinking and feeling at the moment would be transparent to the people around you.

Your daughter comes in the kitchen and asks what you think about her new boyfriend. You know, the one with the souped-up Camaro and the speakers that rattle the windows when he pulls in the driveway. You say, “I don’t really know him that well.” Her heart-recognition software tells her, “That’s right, Mom really doesn’t know him. But she already made up her mind.” Or your son asks you what you think about him applying to a college halfway across the country. This time, you don’t even get a word out before he knows your reply.

For now, I guess, we are safe. Technology can read our faces, but it is having a harder time with our hearts.

But not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t even need to look at our faces. Jesus knows our hearts. Jesus knows that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21 ESV). And he has come to do something about it.

Jesus has come to take away our guilt and to give us innocence. His innocence.

In Mark 14, we read about the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread - the day when they sacrifice the Passover lamb. And the disciples have gone to prepare a place for Jesus to celebrate Passover. Mark tells us, “When it was evening, [Jesus] came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me’” (17–18 ESV).

Jesus has read Judas’ heart. Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him.

What is interesting about this moment is the disciples’ response. Mark tells us that all of the disciples ask Jesus the same question. The question is simply, “Is it I?” (Mark 14:19 ESV). Notice that the disciples do not say to Jesus, “Who is it? Who is the one who is going to betray you?” or “How can we help?” Instead, they ask, “Is it I?” All of them ask Jesus the same question. Why?

Because the disciples know that the heart is a mysterious place. Even though they think that they would never betray Jesus, even though they are certain that Jesus will say, “No, it’s not you,” one can never really be sure with the heart.

Why do the disciples ask this question? Because they, like us, have hearts that are inclined to evil from their youth. Today, one by one, we could all stand before Jesus and ask, “Is it I?” because we know the power of sin and we confess that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV).

What is beautiful about this moment at the Passover feast, however, is that it reveals more than our hearts. It also reveals the heart of God.

In the middle of this painful, heart-searching moment, Jesus tells his disciples, “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him” (Mark 14:21 ESV). Jesus knows about our heart. He knows it is evil and that it will betray him. But he also knows the heart of God.

He was there in eternity when God chose to love his creation. He was there when Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden and God promised that he would send a Savior. He was there as that promise was taught and prayed among his people, preached and prophesied among the nations. And he is there now, living, breathing, dying, to make the promise come true. Jesus, the Son of Man, will die as it is written of him.

Jesus will take our guilt upon himself and offer us his innocence. He will bear the punishment of our sin that we might experience the joy of salvation.

For this reason, Jesus celebrates Passover. He takes the bread and the cup and speaks of his body and blood. He will be our Passover Lamb. His blood will be our protection, causing the angel of death to pass over us. His body will be our connection. Rising from the dead and giving us his innocence and new life.

Jesus will protect us from God’s wrath and connect us to God’s love that we might have a new heart to live for God.

Editor’s note: Today’s devotion comes from the sermon outlines that accompany CTA’s new Easter preparation theme, Crucified. Glorified. Use these downloadable sermons and the included discussion questions to enhance your worship and Bible time in the weeks leading up to Easter!

You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2019 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.

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