"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15).
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25).
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13).
One of the hardest things to do in this world is to forgive. We simply want to get back at the other guy. Punch his lights out for that remark. “Flip the bird” to the driver that just cut you off. An eye for an eye. It’s human nature.
I am sure that there is no one on the face of this planet who has never been hurt by someone else. Maybe it was a girl friend who stole a boyfriend. Maybe the boy next door who broke your favorite toy. The co-worker who got the raise instead. The neighbor who damaged your property. The wife who lied. The husband who cheated. The uncle who abused you…etc.
I am sure that in most cases the offending party was forgiven. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if we hold grudges? What if we just cannot forgive him or her? What if we cannot forgive ourselves?
What I would like to put into context here is the ultimate act of forgiveness- the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let’s go back about 2000 years to the Middle East. There was a man who was born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit. He was not born in a palace, but in a farm animal’s feed box. The smell of hay, feed, and animals filled the air. There was probably a chill in the air. This baby grew into a young man who worked hard and helped out his father Joseph. In his adult life he went out into the wilderness for forty days and fought temptation by Satan. He went to go “find himself” so to speak. When he returned, it was “on“. This was God’s “throw down” time.
For three years this man walked, shocked, and amazed. His teachings changed lives. He showed love to people who otherwise would have been shunned. He healed people who otherwise could not be healed. He even brought a few back to life. He befriended tax collectors and wandering fishermen, who would follow him and who’s writings would forever change mankind…done through the Holy Sprit that this man delivered unto them. He revealed to us how to live in a way that was pleasing to God. He gave us hope. He gave us love. He gave us eternal life.
Faith has killed cancers. Murderers have confessed. Prostitutes have confessed. Abusers have confessed. Drunks have confessed. Pornographers have confessed. They have confessed their sins and now confess He is Lord. Greed has died. Lust has died. Hate has died. Depression has died. All because of the blood that this man has shed. His ministry turned the world on it’s head and forever changed the world. He knew what to do and what to say at all times. He owned wisdom. He knew men more than they knew themselves. Even before they knew themselves. He was God incarnate. His name was Jesus Christ. The name above all names.
One Sunday He was welcomed with open arms and shouts of joy in Jerusalem. After all, look at what He did in three years. Wouldn’t you be shouting too? In less than a week He was betrayed, tried, and crucified. A stab in the back by the same people who welcomed Him. They despised Him so much they wanted a vile criminal to be set free amongst them instead. They spat on Him, beat Him, and shouted insults at Him. For this moment they forget all that He did…and wanted Him dead. Kind of like when we forget all He has done for us and chose to sin against Him. Ironic, huh?
He was whipped. His olive flesh split wide open to reveal the saving crimson. Flesh torn from bone. Pain surging through His whole body. Beaten again. How many thorns do you think was on the crown of thorns? How many do you think cut into His skull? One would have been enough. Then the ultimate insult-”Carry your own cross, boy!.” It’s like having the man getting ready for the electric chair cleaning the chair first. The man getting hanged tying the knot in the rope. The man facing the firing squad handing the guns to the shooters. I am sure as He is walking to Calvary, He looks over to see Mary Magdalene shouting “Someone stop them!”, and His mother Mary screaming “Why?”
Then the fun begins. Two nails separating the bones in the center of His hands. No bones were broken in His body, so they could have only shifted and embraced each nail that passed through. In one side and out the other. Then one strategically placed through His feet. Just so much that He has to hold himself up or suffocate. Then the cross becomes erect for all to see.
As grotesque as Jesus’ crucifixion was, it was actually the most beautiful sacrifice ever made. The epitome of God’s love for us. So much that He would allow this to happen to his only begotten Son so that we would be saved from our sins. So that we may be forgiven. But how much love and how much forgiveness?
Jesus performed many miracles through the power of God. He could have come off the cross. He could have had lightening come down and burn the cross up and not consume Him. The nails could have popped out “on their own”. But God would not allow this. He would have nothing to do with it. Jesus’ death was sin and God washed his hands of that sin on that day. God wants nothing to do with sin. Jesus had to die. It was necessary. It was the only way. Christ’s resurrection three days later was symbolic to our being saved and starting over with Him. Death to sin. New life to us in Christ Jesus. That is how much God loves us.
Now back to the crucifixion. Jesus could have sent fire to kill all of His accusers. He could have spat the vinegar back into the face of the soldier who fed it to Him. He could have yelled obscenities at everyone who spat on Him. I’m sure He could have managed to “flip the bird” with His hands held back by nails. Pay back!
But NO. Through all that these people put Him through, all He could do is say “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34). He only concerned Himself with forgiving them. He even had time to forgive another criminal who was crucified with Him. That is how much God forgives. That is how important forgiveness is to Him. No matter how much pain they put you through…forgive them.
God will forgive us for our trespasses if we confess our sins to Him and ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. Whether it is to be saved/born again, or to be brought back to Him. All we have to do is ask. He is waiting.
The ministry of Jesus that I talked about earlier can be ours too if we let Him into our hearts and come to know and walk with Him.
But Christians may experience trouble with peace and God’s blessings if they fail to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). May we forgive others as He has forgiven us?
So who is your “them” that needs to be forgiven? Is what they did to you worse than nailing Our Lord and Savior to a cross after hours or torture?
Love in Christ!
P.S. If you would like to know more about the life and times and teachings of Jesus Christ, I suggest reading the four gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) if you haven’t already.