The phrase a “clean slate” comes from the era of chalkboards. They were commonly made of slate and what was on them could easily be erased so something new could be written. That’s what we celebrate at Easter. My favorite Easter verse in 1 Peter 1:3-5. It begins, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” There are several parts to this passage but this morning I invite you to consider the first two parts: God’s great mercy and our new birth.

First, I like what Warren Wiersbe says about Grace and Mercy. He distinguishes between the two when he says, “Grace is what God gives me that I don’t deserve; mercy is what God doesn’t give me that I do deserve.” The thing that we all deserve is death as an eternal consequence for sin. But instead of eternal death, what we do deserve, He gives us “eternal life” which we do not deserve. Peter shouts out “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” It is an exclamation! Easter is our exclamation! David Jeremiah adds a little to the understanding of the difference between Grace and Mercy when he writes, “Mercy releases us from the penalty of our sin; grace gives us abundant blessings besides. And that is what God does for all who will accept His free gift of grace in Jesus Christ. Mercy cuts the bonds that bind us to our past; grace sends us into the future with resources for a better life. Mercy removes the filthy rags of our self-righteousness; grace clothes us with the white robes of the righteousness of Christ.”

The means by which God gives us this living hope is a new birth. Everyone is familiar with the phrase from Jesus to Nicodemus; “You must be born again.” It’s a new start: a fresh perspective. It’s a life lived in the glow of a new paradigm of reality; the reality which changes the way we understand the universe, time, space, as well as ourselves and others. One writer told the story of a painter in Paris. The painter: set up his easel, opened his paints, and started to paint a picture called “Life.” He noticed pigeons in the park, tulips blooming along the Champs-Elysees, and the bustle of people on the street. But he messed up his painting. His colors weren’t true and his perspective was poor. Looking at his work with disfavor, he threw it away. He took another canvas and started “Life” all over again. Jesus allows us to do that through the new birth. Our old sins are buried in the deepest part of the sea and we get a clean slate.

“Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 (The Message)