A newspaper advice columnist once wrote: "Regret is the cancer of life." Each of us has done or said things that we came to regret later; or perhaps, it was not saying or doing something that we wish we had done. Either way, we cannot undo the past.
Regret must not eat away at life. When we live our lives in the past, always regretting how we have done things, we fail to see how Christ's cross has changed life for us. When Adam and Eve fell into sin and ruined God's creation, He did not sit around complaining how they should not have spoiled everything and that things would never be the same again. Instead, God promised to send His Son as the Seed of the woman who would defeat the devil and restore God's rule over all creation (Gen. 3:15).
The idea of time travel has fascinated science-fiction writers for a long time. Books, movies, and television shows have explored the possibility of changing history by travelling back through time and doing just one thing differently. When faced with the fall into sin God holds Adam and his wife, and us, responsible for our sinfulness. He does not change history but enters it to address and correct our historic guilt.
Through the Incarnation, the taking on of human flesh and blood by the Son of God, the eternal God entered time and subjected Himself to the limitations of creation. He did so at just the right moment, at the "fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4,5).
God cannot ignore sin, His holiness demands that He deal with it. Instead of replaying the events in Eden and seeing that they had a better outcome, God lets history unfold. In His Son He reveals His love for us because He does not ignore our history; instead, He becomes part of it. At a specific date and time God's Son assumed our human nature, was born, was revealed as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, died on the cross, arose victoriously from the dead, and ascended to His eternal heavenly throne.
As true man Jesus' actions took place in space and time. As true God His actions have value for all time, for both Old and New Testaments. He does not regret what He has done.
Now He comes to us, in time, in acts of Baptism, preaching, and Communion, declaring us free from our sinful past, its guilt, its disappointments, and its regrets. He is preparing us for His eternal Kingdom where "God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying" (Rev., 21:4). We certainly regret our sins against God, but we repent, and the "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1:7).