The Reset Button

I found myself, recently, yelling at my six-year old grandson, Paul, to stop jumping off my living room furniture. He jumped from the couch, to on top of the upright piano, back on the couch, and then took a running leap to make it to the top of my bookcase. If you think this all sounds risky, you would be correct. I don’t have a living room rug. It is hard flooring. I insisted he stop his jumping before we find ourselves taking an unscheduled trip to the emergency room where none of us want to be.
He is at that stage where he thinks he is immortal. I told him that he doesn’t have a reset button like the games he likes to play on the electronics where he would get to try that jump again after he crashed and burned on the first attempt.
Then a thought hit me. I started to think about it a little more. The reset button. Does life have a reset button? I wasn’t thinking about the jump to the top of the bookcase. I was thinking about other types of life happenings. Decisions we make. Something we did or said and we would like to hit the reset button and try to do it better.
Peanuts has been my favorite cartoon my entire life. In one strip, Lucy approaches Charlie Brown with a paper and pen and says, “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. Then she goes to Schroeder with the same paper and says, “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. Finally, she comes to Linus: “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. As she walks away Linus says, “Gee, that must be a nice document to have”.
Leviticus 25 8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 
13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
The Levitical Jubilee is the 50th year. All debts are cancelled. Property is returned. All prisoners are set free.
I know some of you get nervous at that one. You might say, “I don’t mind the debt thing. Maybe that’s a good thing. But prisoners set free? Murderers, rapists on the streets? That’s scary.” Don’t worry. In the Old Testament, the only thing they put you in jail for in those days was debt. Everything else, they killed you.
All land is given back to those who originally possessed it, a redistribution of the land. All of this, of course, was good news for the poor. The jubilee was a new start for poor people. For those who had lost out in the economic competition, it was a chance to get a new beginning. The Year of the Jubilee in Israel was supposed to turn economics from the dog-eat-dog world we live in into a 50-year game with a reset button.
The Year of Jubilee was God’s big ‘Reset’ button. It was the ‘Reboot’ in the system, the ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’.
Now, here is the truth. Not once did Israel ever celebrate a Jubilee year. Not once in their history is there any record that they ever actually celebrated it.
But then, Jesus arrived on the scene.
Luke 4: 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
What was Jesus doing? Isaiah had said in chapter 61, which Jesus read from, that the Messiah would come, and He would proclaim the year of Jubilee. Jesus said, ‘I am He.’
Our nation was founded not simply on religious freedom, but on the concept of Jubilee. The words engraved into the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania when it was made in 1751 read, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Those words are a direct quote from Leviticus 25:10.
Jubilee is a message of forgiveness. When Jesus hung on the cross, he prayed the powerful words, “Father . . . forgive them.”
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
But let’s imagine not just being forgiven but giving forgiveness to others in the same manner that we have been forgiven. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Not forgiving others can be ugly. Particularly if it involves family members. In the late 1920s, two brothers named Adolph (Adi) and Rudolph (Rudi) Dassler began a sports shoe company out of their mother’s laundry room in Germany. Adi was the quiet thoughtful craftsman who designed the shoes. Rudi was the extroverted salesman who sold the shoes.
They ended up joining the Nazi party in 1933 but that didn’t stop them from getting Jesse Owens to wear their shoes when he won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. That exposure caused their sales to explode worldwide.
But success created tension. The brother’s wives were constantly fighting each other and what made it worse is they lived in the same little condo. During one bombing incident during World War II, the two brothers and their wives climbed into a bombing shelter when Adi said, “the dirty blanks are back again.” Rudi and his wife thought that they were talking about them. That set off an epic feud.
Rudi got called up to serve in the German army and he thought it was his brother Adi who did it. When Rudi got sent to the front lines he thought it was Adi who schemed it so that he could take control of the company. Then Rudi was arrested for deserting his post and he thought it was his brother who ratted him out. While Rudi was in a prisoner of war camp, Adi rebuilt the business, selling shoes to American GIs.
In 1948, after the war was over, the brothers split the company. Adi named his company Adidas. Rudi named his company Puma. They built competing factories on opposite sides of the river and became responsible for much of the economy of their town in Germany. Nearly everyone worked for either one or the other company.
The brothers hated each other. And the employees of either company hated each other. Everyone was involved in the family feud. People would not marry across company lines. People would not eat at certain restaurants.
The brothers died and were buried in the same cemetery at totally opposite ends. Why did they allow their perceived hurts to fuel them to do everything they could to destroy the other one? And why did they allow an entire city to become embroiled in their ugliness? What a difference it would’ve made in their lives, their families and the whole town if there had been forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. When you think someone has offended you, try using the reset button.
Pray with me. The Lord’s Prayer. Our Father. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen


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