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Jesus “walked the walk” of forgiveness

February 18, 2022

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

Pastor Darryl Burton’s story is one Jesus can identify with. 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.”

  • Jesus called his followers to live in bigger ways than anyone had dreamed of, to love their enemies and pray 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 one option for genuine help.)

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

Picture of Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

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

While wandering the aisles at a hardware store, I came across a local club’s newsletter “Nuts & Volts” – A Club for Skilled Craftsmen & Craftswomen. I thought a “column” in the periodical might help us understand today’s passage:

Column: A Lost Skill That is Still Needed – by Wood, Chip

As loyal readers know, we have talked about jobs/careers that are no longer around like, Blacksmith, Ice Cutter, or Bowling Pin Setter. I began to think about what skills that have been lost over the years, like reading a paper map, using the card catalog at the library, or driving a car with a manual transmission. However, as I survey today’s society I think that a skill that is still in great demand, yet sadly in short supply, would easily be forgiveness.

ALERT: Betsy’s garage was burglarized. Her loom & several carpets were stolen. Police are looking for a gang of rug addicts.

Scanning recent articles, columns, & social media postings, we find all sorts of stories filled with harsh conclusions & vindictive verdicts, using phrases like unredeemable, intolerable, & “beyond the pale.”

These final judgments can be for anything ranging from words said or written decades prior, to actions taken (or not taken) years ago, to more recent events like mask-wearing or vaccination status. We feel quite smug & comfortable going so far as to consider these miscreants with the Orwellian term as “unpersons.”

ANNOUNCEMENT: Long-time member, Phil, is missing one of his tools from our community work-night. So, please check your toolboxes for Phillip’s Screwdriver. Thanks.

Sadly, this almost joyful eagerness to condemn has resulted in a society that offers very little empathy, consideration, or charity. (Interestingly, in some cases those who endlessly chat about “tolerating others” turn out to be the least tolerant.)

CONGRATULATIONS: Henry’s Cabinetmaking workshop has been named the Best Counter-Fitter in the metro area by the F.B.I. (The Fellowship of Builders & Interior-Designers.)

However, Jesus, during His last hours on the cross, models a radically different mode of behavior. He starts by calling on God to forgive them for they know not what they do. Now, you just know that this made those with hard hearts even angrier – how dare He say they are ignorant. But for those with hearts truly bent to God, this must have provided great comfort in the coming days, weeks, & months. Despite their awful actions on that fateful Friday, they were still not beyond redemption. (For those of us living today, the inclusive “them” provides solace during our own times when we have turned away from Christ.)

Then, we have the thief, traditionally placed to Jesus’ left, hurling insults at Christ. Jesus doesn’t condemn the thief or even bother to react to him. (Classical artwork of this scene typically depicts Jesus’ head turned away from the thief.) Perhaps this indicates that life is short & when we encounter that person who will never ask for grace or perhaps doesn’t understand he/she needs mercy we should still forgive them in our hearts & not let them take up any more of our time, energy, or attention.

HAPPY HOUR: We’ll gather next Thursday for some food & fellowship at our same locale, The Crow Bar.

The thief on the right rebukes the other crook & asks Jesus to remember him. Jesus promptly states that our friend will join Him in paradise. We should note there isn’t a discussion of why he needs clemency, a debate of his theological beliefs, or even a dialog of his motives. Remarkably, Jesus just forgives.

RAFFLE UPDATE: Our fundraising raffle offering a free one night-stand was a rousing success! Who knew a bedside table would be so popular?

Admittedly, some of us struggle with the idea of mercy, because we are so fearful of using this power incorrectly. We certainly don’t want to erase proper boundaries or eliminate consequences to the offending party’s unacceptable behavior. We should recall the scene of the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), where Jesus offers mercy to the woman but not without reminding her that she had done wrong & challenging her to improve her conduct. He offers her a second-chance, not a life-long “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

However, we need to be clear that any misgivings we may have about offering mercy do not come close to out-weighing the benefits of forgiveness like less anxiety, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, & even improved self-esteem.

As we celebrate all of the cool technological advances, let’s not forget that a life lived to its greatest potential absolutely requires an “old-school” skill modeled by the Greatest Carpenter – grace. Amazing, huh?

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.