Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. – Luke 24:44-53
I was at the gym the other day when our trainer leaned into me with a theological observation. He said, “I don’t go to church very often, but I heard something that I really like. God doesn’t love you because of what you do, but because of what’s in your heart.” He went on to say something about how that gave him comfort because he doesn’t attend church very often, but feels that God knows what is in his heart. I look forward to further conversation with him about that, and maybe expand my point about what I told him.
I told him that I like to say that God doesn’t love us because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because that’s his nature. There’s a lot to unpack with that comment, and I don’t know if I’ll get the chance, but if I do…
At the end of Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry he mentions two significant things. Jesus ascended in the view of the Apostles. And the Apostles return with joy and continually bless God in the Temple. Make no mistake, they’re there because of what’s in their hearts. But what’s in their hearts is there because of God’s work in the world and in their hearts.
The only reason there is anything good in our hearts is because of Jesus’ presence there. Otherwise we would have only the sinful nature. Jesus’ assessment of the sinful nature is unvarnished. He says, “If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children…” (Matthew 7:11). We who are evil need a physician., and Jesus is that physician. He has redeemed us, and made us new. He reigns in grace, and because of all he has done, we delight to worship him. Not so that he will see the good in us, but because he has redeemed us and we are truly and deeply thankful to him!