Friday, June 23, 2017

Words From the Cross: Forgiveness

Chuckle: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." --Mark Twain
Quote: "There he hangs, nailed to the Cross in the darkness and He loves us still." --Fr Andrew SDC

"Father, forgive these people, because they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34 NLT).
Here, Luke records the first of Jesus’ seven utterances while he was hanging in agony on the cross, and His words give us insight into why He died. Three of the sayings were directed to His Father, and four to the people witnessing his crucifixion. The first laid the foundation for the ones to follow. If Jesus had not had a forgiving spirit toward his tormentors, he never could have been the world's Savior. Even in the face of human hatred and injustice, Jesus revealed the extent of His divine love and forgiveness.
At Calvary, three people died, Jesus and the two criminals/thieves, and there were three different approaches to the deaths that occurred. One died without hope because he was stubbornly unrepentant and rejected God's love. One died pardoned from sin because he repented and pled for mercy: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom"  (Luke 23:42 NIV). The One on the center cross died for the sins of mankind because He was the only one who could. Jesus' death came as a beam of eternal light in a dark world.
We must understand that Jesus' prayer for forgiveness (Father, forgive them) was not a universal request, but referred to those who were putting Him to death. The gospel teaches that for people to be forgiven and saved, they must repent of their sins, individually, and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. What then was Jesus asking his Father to do? As it relates to salvation, forgiveness releases us from the guilt and consequences of our sinful acts and attitudes. This forgiveness requires repentance on the part of those seeking forgiveness. Paul uses the word justification to describe those who have been saved and have begun the Christian life.
Forgiveness can also mean giving of one's self to restore a relationship (soul-union) between the one who was wronged and the one who did the wrong. God's forgiveness restores us to a personal relationship with him. This is why we must forgive to fully understand God's forgiveness. Those who have never forgiven cannot fully understand what takes place when God, for Jesus' sake, forgives them. Jesus said, "Love your enemies . . . and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44 NIV). Implicit in Jesus' prayer on the cross was the request that God gives his enemies opportunity to be sorry for their terrible sin, repent of their sins, and turn to the Savior.
A person becomes a Christian by experiencing God's forgiveness through what Christ did on the cross as atonement for sin that was perfected in his resurrection. I believe Jesus was asking His Father to withhold condemnation of those who crucified Him until they became aware of what they had done and repented of their sins. God has done that for you and gives you opportunity to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord. A beautiful poem: "The sandal tree perfumes, when riven, The axe that laid it low; Let man who hopes to be forgiven Forgive and bless his foe." --Source Unknown
Love, Jerry & Dotse

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