Luke 23:34 ESV
Matthew 27:1-2 ESV
Matthew 27:15-17 ESVk
Matthew 27:21-23 ESV
From the Jar
Have you ever been deeply hurt by a loved one?
Have you been betrayed?
Have you felt like you are in the depths of despair because those you loved left you alone and desolate?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, you can have some idea what Jesus meant when he said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
However…unless you’ve experienced being betrayed unto death with most of your friends turning their back on you when you needed them most, you can’t know exactly what Jesus went through.
Add to that the experience that He was publicly humiliated.
Add to that the experience of being stripped and beaten by your accusers.
Add to that after they stripped you they gambled away your garment and they laughed about it.
Add to that the feeling that in the end you stand alone as you face death. Jesus knew most of His beloved friends had scattered.
Add to that you had to watch your own mother see you suffer and die.
And…if we went through every Gospel account the list of what Jesus suffered would be much longer.
Still, knowing what He would suffer didn’t stop Him.
He WAS the sacrifice for all.
On the cross as He was dying He prayed forgiveness for those who crucified Him and those who denounced Him.
So…when I’ve taught about forgiveness and when I talk to people about forgiving those who have mistreated them, they often say they cannot forgive what was done to them.
They tell me it was too cruel and thoughtless. They remind me it was done to them intentionally and the other person doesn’t deserve to be forgive. Plus, they have reminded me the person who ‘wronged’ them isn’t asking to be forgiven. They remind me that the person who hurt them doesn’t care that they hurt…they do not have a broken and contrite heart.
Yup, I get that. I tell them I’ve been there and done that.
But, here’s the thing…we are called to forgive them. On the cross Jesus forgave everyone. Jesus didn’t say I forgive the people who feel bad about what they’ve done to me. He didn’t categorize and classify those who would be forgiven and those who would not be forgiven.
Jesus made an intentional statement about forgiveness. Jesus clumped everyone together when He said, “Forgive them”.
From Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor under emperor Tiberius who was judge at Jesus trial. To Caiaphas, the Hebrew High Priest who led the Hebrew Council who assisted him as mediator for the Jews. The High Priest Caiaphas was charged with maintaining order in Jerusalem. Galilee was governed by tetrarch Antipas (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus/Jewish-Palestine-at-the-time-of-Jesus).
Pilate was Governor over Roman Judea which included Jerusalem. Pilate handed Jesus over to Antipas the son of Herod the Great because Jesus had spend a great deal of time in his territory (Galilee and Perea which made up about a quarter of the Roman territory). However, Antipas sent the case back to Pilate. Neither one of them wanted to sentence Jesus. In the end Pilate didn’t make the decision. He asked the crowd to decide if they wanted Barabbas to be set free or Jesus?
In Matthew 27:1-2 we read, “When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.”
And in Matthew 27:15-17, “the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
And in Matthew 27:21-23, the Governor Pilate said, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
And so Jesus was crucified.
Because the crowd had been taunted and they chanted to crucify Jesus, He was put to death. Pilate even asked what evil thing Jesus had done? Pilate knew the answer, but the crowd called for His death and Pilate gave them what they wanted.
And Jesus forgave them. He forgave Pilate. He forgave Antipas. He forgave Caiaphas and the Council of Priests. He forgave the soldiers. He forgave His disciples. Only one disciple was present when He died…that was young John. Jesus asked John to take care of His Mother, Mary. There were women at the crucifixion, but only one male disciple was named.
Jesus forgave them all.
And folks, that’s what we are called to do. We are called to forgive everyone. There are no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if they deserve it. It doesn’t matter if you feel like it. It doesn’t even matter if you want to forgive them. You don’t have to feel like forgiving them. You do not need to resolve your feelings. You are called to forgive them. You are called to speak the words, “I forgive them.”
You don’t have to like it, or feel it, or want to do it. None of that is necessary. By speaking the words, “I forgive them” you are giving God permission to take over. You are turning the matter over to God.
You are letting go.
You are making it so God can be in charge so He can help you resolve your feelings in time.
The Spirit will do that. I’ve forgiven people that I didn’t want to forgive and God helped me resolve it in time. The truth is, you have to give God permission to take over. God will not force you. YOU have to speak those three words…”I forgive them.”
God will take care of the rest.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Forgive
Speak the words, “I forgive ____.” That will turn the matter over to God.
In God, Deborah