Forgiveness sounds like a great idea until you’re the one who has to do it. Then, it can be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.
I heard the testimony of a man who recently came to faith in Jesus Christ in Asia. Trusting Christ as his Savior meant being cut off from many friends and family, and being ostracized from his village.
Following Jesus also meant extending forgiveness to someone who had hurt him and his family deeply.
Some time before, his mother had been raped by her own nephew – this man’s first cousin.
Can you imagine the anger, the outrage, and even the hatred this new believer must have felt against his cousin? Any of us would understand if he had simply said in his heart, “I’ll never be able to forgive him. What he did to my mother was too monstrous and terrible.”
Yet, even as a new disciple of Christ, this man knew he had a need to forgive his relative for this unthinkable act of violence and betrayal. And so, he came to the Lord in prayer and asked, “Jesus, help me to forgive my cousin.”
And, wonderfully, God gave this man the grace to forgive!
The Bible says:
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:33-34, ESV)
He was surrounded by jeers and mockery and weakened by loss of blood, but the lips of the Lord Jesus were moving during those first minutes on the cross.
What was it that He was saying? Was He cursing? Was He groaning in pain?
No. Come closer. You can hear the tender and compassionate voice of the dying Lamb of God, Jesus Christ: “Father, forgive them.”
The words “forgive them” mean, “Blot out their sin completely. Take it away from them. Don’t hold what they’re doing against them.”
Why? “For they do not know what they do.” Those who murdered Jesus – from the Roman soldiers, to the members of the Sanhedrin, to the angry mob that cried, “Crucify!”, to Pilate in his apathy and coldness, all the way to us – for we each have our part in nailing Him to the cross – did not know the extent of what we were doing.
And so, when humanity was at its absolute worst, Jesus pleaded not for justice and punishment, but for mercy and grace.
And remember this: Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive,” not after His wounds had healed, but while they were being opened.
The language indicates that He prayed this prayer over and over again at Calvary.
As they lowered his body onto the cross beam – “Father, forgive them.”
As they drove the large nails through His wrists and His ankles – “Father, forgive them.”
As the cross was lowered into the hole with a bone-rattling thud – “Father, forgive them.”
As the pain raced from synapse to synapse through every raw nerve of His beaten and bruised and bleeding body – “Father, forgive them.”
Because Jesus prayed, “Forgive,” we know that God’s forgiveness is available to us today. And, God’s grace and power are available to for us to extend forgiveness to others.
Who is Jesus calling you to forgive today?
Have a great day and keep moving forward!
Suggested Bible Reading
Today as you pray ...
Praise the Lord for loving you unconditionally, fully and limitlessly.
Thank God for the blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanses you from your sin.
As the Lord brings it to your mind, ask for His grace to forgive those who have sinned against you.
Release those who have hurt you completely from their offense against you, just as Jesus fully forgave those who were crucifying Him.
Give God glory for the blessing of being forgiven.
Today, and during Holy Week, leading to Resurrection Sunday, “Moving Forward” devotionals will focus on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross.