I love the Cross. There is so much we can say about it, but since we have been talking about Forgiveness I want us to look at a lesson from there. Jesus was hanging on the cross, deformed and covered in blood. It was a tragic scene. Many of the people there were filled with hate and anger. They hated Him to the point that they wanted Him dead, and they were there to cheer His death. Only a handful of people were there to mourn. Suddenly, amid the shouts of mocking Him and cursing Him, Jesus began to speak. I can only imagine His voice in that moment. Fighting for breath and holding on to life still, He would barely have enough strength to say anything at all. Nevertheless, His voice broke through the shouts and mocking (in my opinion it couldn’t be much more than a whisper) and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) I see something really important in this, besides the obvious point of forgiveness. Jesus shows us what forgiveness looks like.
It is important for us to see two things: 1) Jesus forgives those who persecute Him, mock Him, and hate Him. They knowingly are killing Him, and they know exactly what they are doing. However, Jesus doesn’t take it personally, NOR does He accuse them for their personal actions. Instead, He chooses to believe that if they REALLY knew what they were doing, they would not do it. We could all learn to think this way and have this perspective when it comes to forgiveness. 2) Forgiving them is not the only thing Jesus did here. Allow me to explain. Jesus did 4 things here. First, He forgave. Second, He let it go. He didn’t say, “I forgive you, but I won’t forget what you have done.” Isn’t it interesting that we all know that God no longer remembers our sins (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17, Micah 7:18, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34 for example), but we don’t want to let go and forget when people hurt us? I hope that stings a little for you like it does me. Third, He prays for them. If you can’t pray to God for their benefit, you haven’t actually forgiven them even though you may be trying to. We must forgive, forget, and pray for them. Lastly, He blesses them, publicly. We have to grow to the point where we don’t do everything in secret. None of this is natural or easy for us. Nevertheless, forgive and you will be forgiven. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven (John 20:23, Matthew 6:14).
If 4 steps are too many, then think of it the way my friend Dr. Kerry Wood wrote in his book The Abba Factor: Forgiveness is like a double barreled shotgun. If you only fire one side, you have not finished your mission. Forgive and forget, and then bless and pray for them- publicly.
Written by a few for the many.