“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven…” (Luke 6:37)
These words were once very threatening to me. They seemed to me an impossible demand, and unattainable requirement. If I judged another man for sins I saw, if I failed to forgive those who hurt me, God would refuse to forgive me, and I would stand before him judged and condemned. That’s frightening. I have a lot more experience at judging than at forgiving.
No doubt there is truth to that threat. But now I see in Jesus’s words something more. Here is an invitation to a new world where everything is reversed, like Alice’s world behind the looking glass. In this world, the only one who can rightly judge our crimes forgives instead. The one who could rightfully destroy both body and soul in hell does not condemn, he blesses. This is the upside down realm, where the servants are the most respected subjects, and the Lord washes the feet of his betrayer.
An inscription above the door of this Kingdom reads “Abandon offense, all ye who enter here!” Beneath those words is the Savior, who collects our sins at the door and casts them into the deepest sea, to be remembered no more. He collects all our sins, even those crimes done to me, the sins of my enemies. I cannot enter with them – on my mind or in my ledger book. All debts are cancelled at the door. On the other side lies the land of Jubilee.
This then, is the one requirement for entrance to the Kingdom of God. Hand it all over to Jesus. Forgive and be forgiven. Leave behind my guilt and my shame, and drop the charges against my brothers and sisters. We enter as equals, raised up in glory together, all servants, all kings and priests, all just the same in the loving eyes of our Father and King.
The change could be a shock. I am afraid of what I may lose if I forgive. I cannot justify myself if there is no one worse than I. I will have no power over anyone if I have no sin to hold up against them. Can I stoop so low? Can I humble myself like this?
But as I approach the light of that doorway, for the Savior in all his brilliant glory is the true door, I begin to see all that I carry on me. My own sin is too great for me to bear and I long to be free of it. I can only cry out to Jesus “Save me! Forgive me! Free me!”
He hears, of course, and takes me in his arms and pours his love and life into me. I am through the door! I am forgiven, and I am forgiving! Jubilee is for me!