Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Forgiveness is hard.
Hard when you know you should, but your feelings of vengeance and justice are not going away. Forgiveness is hard when you feel as if forgiving them is letting them off the hook for their cruelty, how they wounded you, and the devastation they left in their wake.
Yet, every time I read what Jesus says while hanging on the cross leaves me awestruck.
He had just suffered one of the cruelest punishments known to man. Bodily, He was exhausted. Having been examined by Pilate, Herod, and them Pilate again, He had been up for almost 48 hours. The mental and emotional strain in the garden took its toll.
Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress. To say Jesus was stressed is an understatement.
Facing His greatest trial, He knew all of what was about to transpire. He knew the beating, the mocking, the accusations, and the crucifixion. I believe the single most troubling event throughout this journey was taking upon himself the sins of the whole world.
The Son of God had never known sin until this point.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
It was a crushing weight that no man would have been able to bear. It was history’s single most unselfish act ever recorded.
So, when faced with forgiving that one who has wronged us and hurt us so profoundly that we seemingly cannot forgive, we must look to the Savior as our example.
Only when I can see that one as a soul for whom Christ died, that my perspective begins to change. I have hurt others when in the bondage of my sin. I would want forgiveness for the wrong I commit. God commands me to give what I would want for myself.
Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
When others lie about us, falsely accuse us, or betray the trust we’ve cultivated, the hurt runs deep. When we forgive, something happens on which we did not count.
Freedom. Being set free from the bonds of hatred, anger, and revenge is genuinely liberating. Yet, if we hold on to those emotions, we risk hurting others with the bitterness that will surely grow in us.
Hebrews 12:14-16 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”
The apostle Paul gives us the key to journeying through forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 15:31 “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
You see, dead men cannot be offended. Dead men cannot feel hatred, anger, or pain. Christ died for the sinful man I became. God came to transform me into the image of His dear Son.
Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The change will come slowly. But change we must.