I am the middle of three children, with an older brother and a younger sister. When we were kids, one of my favorite hobbies was getting my little sister in trouble.
Now that I have three daughters of my own, it surprises me how much they remind me of her. They love to laugh and sing and dance. They love to color and to draw.
My sister was one of those kids that would draw on anything. Paper. The table. The wall. She was also very smart. Her name starts with an “H” and once she learned to write it, she would include the “H” in her scribbles. She couldn’t help herself.
Give her a coloring book and every page would soon be covered with H’s in an assortment of different colors.
One day I chose to write on the wall myself. I don’t remember why and I don’t remember what I drew. But I do remember realizing what I had done and the consequences that would follow.
I was good at both solving problems and being deceitful, a horrid combination of skills. Putting these talents to use, I quickly devised a plan to blame my sister for the mess.
I grabbed another crayon and then scribbled an “H” in the middle of everything else I had drawn. I made it a bit sloppy. And I probably used pink.
When my parents discovered the mess I made, they never hesitated in blaming my sister. To them, the sloppy “H” was like the fingerprints on a murder weapon: undeniable evidence. She, of course, protested. And my parents, of course, didn’t listen.
I remember watching all of this take place. Her innocent pleas. Her punishment. My suffering no consequences. It was quite amazing, from my perspective.
Even though I was guilty, it was as if I wasn’t.
Our lives are filled with graffiti covered walls. What used to be white and clean and pure is now a mess. Even though we know better and even though it doesn’t make us feel any better, we keep scribbling.
Sometimes we use pencil. Sometimes we use crayons. Quite often we use permanent marker and the mess will be etched on our wall forever.
Sometimes we try to draw over an old scribble with a newer, better scribble. Sometimes we keep drawing the same thing over and over again.
Sometimes we even write on other’s people’s walls. We scribble acts of betrayal and hurt into their lives and then we walk away leaving them with a mess that we made for them.
The tough part is that the mess can’t be ignored. It is there on the wall and no amount of paint can simply cover it up. The ink simply bleeds through any paint we try to put on it.
Jesus did the same thing for our walls as I did for my sister, only in reverse.
Instead of blaming us, he chose to take on our blame. Jesus walked up to our wall of mess and scribbled a big “J” right in the middle of all of it.
The idea is one we have grown accustomed to. After years of Sunday School classes, the song is an old familiar one that we can sing without thinking about it. But the words are so good, it is worth the time to see them as new every day.
He took the blame for all of the crap we have done. All of the messes we have made. All of the pain we have caused. All of the ways we have hurt people (even my blaming my sister so many years ago). All of the scribbles and graffiti and marks on our walls.
Even though we are guilty, it is as if we are not.
After my parents blamed my sister, they made her clean the wall until all of the scribbles were gone. And then they painted over the mess so the wall could be white again.
Now that our blame sits on Jesus, God does the same for us. Jesus cleans the wall. God paints over it. And when he looks at us, all he sees is guiltless beauty.
All because Jesus scribbled a “J” for us.
CC Image • davitydave on Flickr