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Jesus “walked the walk” of forgiveness

February 16, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Luke 23:34-47

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.
35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”
36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life” [Psalm 31:5]. After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ friends and nation betrayed him, a Roman procurator saw his innocence yet approved his crucifixion (cf. John 19:4-6), and he felt a deep sense of separation from God (cf. Matthew 27:46). Yet on the cross, Jesus did what might seem impossible. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” When you face unfair trials, whether small or very big (like the one Pastor Darryl Burton faced) you can know that Jesus faced even worse and showed the way through.

  • Jesus called his followers to live in bigger ways than anyone had dreamed of, loving their enemies and praying for those who harassed them. (He even did that for the Roman soldiers who crucified him—verse 34.) What ways of reacting to others might we take for granted in our culture until Jesus’ teaching calls us beyond them? When you feel like “getting even,” how can you become more like Jesus instead?
  • Think of a time when someone wronged you in a major way. How did it happen? What feelings did it trigger in you? What did you do about them? Has forgiveness helped you let go of the hurt, or has this wrong continued to haunt you? What would it take for you to set yourself free from the past by forgiving? What kind of help, divine or human, might you need to do that? (Click here to learn about an option Resurrection offers for genuine help.)
Prayer

Compassionate God, you suffered so much, yet prayed, “Father, forgive them…” As you forge a new identity in me, may I see myself and others through your eyes, and forgive as you forgave. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe and his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 and were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew and Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

In 2009, I facilitated a class where we spent each week looking at the life of a Christian Hero, ranging from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Harriet Tubman to John Wesley, to see how their lives might inspire our own faith walk. One week we reviewed the life of Corrie ten Boom, who provides a good example of today’s theme of forgiveness. Let’s take a look:

     Aside: As a facilitator, I like to open discussions with an icebreaker question. Sometimes the answers are
     misstated, like the time I asked, “What is your favorite movie?” A young Mom with 4 kids responded,
     “It’s been so long since I’ve seen an adult movie, I can’t pick just one.”

Corrie was born in the Netherlands in 1892 to a family in the watch-making business. As a young woman, Corrie was worried about teen-aged girls & available activities after the chaos of World War I, so she set up a group she called the Triangle Club. (The sides of the triangle represented social, intellectual, & physical development. The triangle was inside a circle, which represented “God around us always.”) They had 4 rules:
1) Seek your strength through prayer
2) Be open & trustworthy
3) Bear your difficulties cheerfully
4) Develop the gifts that God gave you

     Aside: You never want to answer icebreaker questions first.  Like the time I asked, “What is your favorite
     TV show?”  A stylish Mom gushed, “Oh definitely, ‘Sex in the City.’”  The next woman responded, “I’d
     probably say ‘Touched by an Angel.’”

Corrie’s family firmly believed that the Jews were God’s Chosen People. The family had created a prayer fellowship in Holland to create stronger connections between the faiths. In 1940, Holland comes under Nazi rule & Jewish property is confiscated & Jews are arrested. The penalty for hiding a Jew was death. A young Jewish mom & her infant son came to the ten Boom home seeking shelter. Corrie immediately let her in saying, “God’s people are always welcome.” Her father, standing behind Corrie said, “It would be this family’s greatest honor to die for this child.”

The ten Boom family becomes extremely active in the Dutch Resistance. Soon, they are sheltering entire families of Jews & helping them escape from Holland. Their work is so extensive, they build a small room behind the wall in Corrie’s bedroom. The room is ventilated & holds 6 beds. They also set up a buzzer system throughout the house to alert everyone when the Nazi’s did their snap inspections.

     Aside: If you ask a church group about their favorite book, you have to obviously add the caveat,
     “excluding the Bible,” otherwise everyone would change their answers to the Scriptures.  One time the
     answers included the usual “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Pride & Prejudice, “ etc.  Since I was going last, I
     said, “Oh, I think I’d pick Pastor Adam’s new book, 24-Hours that Changed the World, but that’s just
     me.” 

An informant rats the family out to the Nazis & though the Nazis didn’t find the hiding place, the entire ten Boom family is arrested. Corrie & her sister, Betsie, are sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, which was for the regime’s most despised prisoners. The conditions are horrific: a hundred women are packed in a small barrack, meals are limited to black bread & filthy water, the prisoners are constantly beaten, the work details are often fatal, & disease is rampant.

Corrie arranges for a Bible to be smuggled into the camp. She & her sister start leading secret worship services. During one such worship time, everyone froze. Corrie realized a guard was standing behind her. She prayed for strength & resolutely continued to worship her God. So she started singing another hymn & the other ladies slowly joined in. As the hymn concluded, Corrie awaited for the whip to hit her. But the guard quietly said, “Please sing another one.”

While in the camp, Corrie’s sister, Betsie, tells Corrie of a vision she kept having where after the war the sisters would live in a mansion with inlaid floors & a garden & invite victims from the concentration camps who had been warped by the war to begin the healing process. (Some of Betsie’s last words to Corrie were, “We must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”)

Due reverses in the war, Corrie is released from the concentration camp. Corrie discovers the identity of the man who betrayed her family. She fervently prays that God help her forgive him. She writes him a letter, which she would later describe as a nauseating experience. Here is an excerpt:

“I heard that most probably you are the one who betrayed me. I went through 10 months of concentration camp. My father died after days. My sister died in prison, too. The harm you planned was turned into good for me by God. I came nearer to Him. A severe punishment is waiting for you.  I have prayed for you, that the Lord may accept you if you will repent.  Think about the fact that the Lord Jesus on the cross also took your sins upon Himself.  If you accept this, and want to be His child, you are saved for eternity. I have forgiven you everything. God will also forgive you everything, if you ask Him. He loves you.” *

After World War II concludes, Corrie is determined to act upon Betsie’s vision. A wealthy widow offers a home that looks exactly like Betsie’s dream house & Corrie hosts former concentration camp prisoners to help them recover. Corrie feels called to speak about forgiveness & love & her experiences in Ravensbruck. After one presentation in Germany, a man approaches her. He is carrying a brown felt hat, but, to her horror, Carrie recognizes him from Ravensbruck & just sees a visored, black hat with the skull & crossbones emblem of a Nazi guard. He says he has become a follower of Christ & has begged God to forgive him. Would she forgive him as well? He offers her his hand. Corrie is shaking & would later say his hand resembled a cluster of snakes. After a long pause, she takes his hand & says, “Yes, I’ll forgive you.” 

Corrie would later write that forgiveness is not an emotion, but an act of the will; and, thanks only to God, He gave her the strength to lift her hand that day & shake that man’s hand. When she first recognized the former guard, Corrie said her heart felt cold as ice. After she forgave him, Corrie said she felt an incredible rush of warmth sweep through her entire body. By forgiving the former prison guard, Corrie’s soul was no longer imprisoned; it was finally free.

PS: The ten Boom family saved over 800 Jews from death.  Corrie ten Boom would pass on her 91st birthday in 1983. In 1975, a highly rated movie, “The Hiding Place,” was produced to tell her story.

* The Hiding Place. Corrie ten Boom, 2006.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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