“Two other men both criminals were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on the right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
Father, forgive them! These words take on a whole new meaning when we consider the circumstances surrounding Jesus when they were spoken. Jesus had been sentenced to death, rejected, beaten, mocked, and scourged. A crown of thorns cut deep into His brow while nails pierced His hands and feet.
Yet, through the physical and emotional trauma, Jesus was able to see past the pain to convey two valuable truths regarding forgiveness.
The first truth is very simple: We are all in need of forgiveness. Romans 3:23 declares that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The end result of our sinfulness is death (Romans 6:23). Sin separated us from God. In order for us to be reconciled, we had to be forgiven. Hebrews 9:22 declares that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. So while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). His forgiveness opened the door to our reconciliation. The only thing remaining to be done, in order for our relationship with God to be restored, was for us to repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, this is not the full expression of forgiveness! Jesus’ statement was not merely a proclamation of God’s desire to reclaim our broken fellowship. It was also a model of how we are to steward the forgiveness that has been extended towards us. If we are to experience the fullness of forgiveness we must express to others what we have received. The link between the forgiveness we receive and the forgiveness we show is captured for us in Matthew 6:12:
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Jesus goes on to tell His disciples that to withhold forgiveness from those who offend us demonstrates that we have not yet experienced the fullness of His forgiveness:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Our perception of forgiveness is very shallow and selfish if we believe that we are worthy to receive forgiveness for our sins from a perfect, almighty God; while at the same time withholding forgiveness from someone who has offended us.
You cannot grasp the fullness of God’s forgiveness, until you have forgiven someone who has crucified you! That is the message of the cross!
(To listen to the full sermon visit: http://dayspringchurchag.sermon.net/main/main/20033917)
Pastor Scott Burr