Have you ever received what you thought was bad news that turned out to be good news? Recently we had a tire blow out on one of our vehicles. Bad news. When I took it to the place I bought it, I was bracing myself for the cost of a new tire, maybe two. The bad news was that the tire needed to be replaced like I thought. The good news is that it wasn’t going to cost me anything. A blowout turned into a free new tire. Good news!
As I was reading in Nehemiah 8 today, I saw this contrast between good news and bad news. The priest Ezra was reading the Law and the Levites were teaching it to the people as he read it. What they discovered in that moment was that their lives didn’t line up with God’s standard – bad news!
Nehemiah 8:9-12 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.” 12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
When confronted with the way of God, the people had a similar reaction to those listened to Peter preach in Acts 2 – they were cut to the heart. They realized that their lives weren’t lining up with the law of God. Tears began to flow and fear likely began to grip their hearts. “Wait just a minute! Everybody stop!” declared Nehemiah. “This isn’t a time for crying. Now we know what God expects of us. Now we can actually live for Him. It’s time to celebrate!” Their mourning was turned to joy in that moment of revelation.
The gospel of Jesus Christ often hits us the same way. When we are confronted with our sin and our shame, it often brings us to our knees. We cry out to God in desperation and humility because there’s no way we can measure up to a Holy God. But while the gospel brings us to our knees, it also brings us to our feet. It causes us to stand. It gives strength, peace, and joy. You see, the gospel of Jesus may show us our sin, but it also ushers us to a place of freedom from that sin. The work of Christ on the cross paid for those places that make me want to cry.
Don’t hang your head in sorrow and shame any longer. Receive His truth. Course correct. Then live in the freedom that He brings!