Summary: If we are to model Jesus in every area of our life that must include his forgiveness as well. This sermon takes a look at three aspects of forgiveness of Christ that our forgiveness should model.
This morning we will be starting a new seven-week series. I know just a few weeks ago we ended a seven-week series on the deadly sins. But as you know the number 7 in scriptures is symbolic of perfection. So hopefully this series will be perfect for what you need in your life. For the next seven weeks we will be looking at the statements that Christ made from the cross, statements that were made before his death on the cross. It used to be that people used to hang on the last words of dying people. It was a chance for them to really say what they wanted to their family and friends before they no longer had the chance. Sometimes it was a last chance to say I love you or maybe it was a time to give some serious words of wisdom that would help their children or family as they face the future without them. It doesn’t seem like that happens much anymore today. With technology we have found a way to increase people’s length of life when death comes calling. The only negative with that is often times people die in such a drug induced state that they never really have the chance to say some of the things that they would really like to say. And of course some people are taken so suddenly and there is no chance for them to say what they really wanted. The death of Christ on the cross was agonizing, but in His agony He gave us some jewels that can make our life so much better.
“Father, forgive them, for they do no know what they are doing.” What an incredible statement considering what they put Him through. This morning I want to look at three aspects of the Forgiveness of Christ. And if we are to be imitators of Christ our forgiveness should share these same aspects.
In Max Lucado’s “He Chose the Nail” workbook they just a brief glimpse of the steps in a crucifixion. “Those sentenced to death on a cross in the Roman period were usually beaten with leather lashes--a procedure that often resulted in severe loss of blood. Victims were then generally forced to carry the upper crossbeam to the execution site, where the central stake was already set up. After being fastened to the crossbeam on the ground with ropes--or in rare cases, nails through the wrists--the naked victim was then hoisted with the crossbeam against the standing vertical stake. A block or peg was sometimes fastened to the stake as a crude seat. The feet were then tied or nailed to the stake…Death by suffocation or exhaustion normally followed only after a long period of agonizing pain.” Of course we know from scriptures what else they did to him while he was suffering on the cross and even before that point. In Matthew 27 they tell us that they stripped him of his clothes and put a scarlet robe on him and twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. The put a staff in his right hand and mockingly knelt in front of him and said, “Hail, king of the Jews.” They spit on him and took a staff and struck him on the head again and again. Then they took off the robe and put his own clothes back on and led him away to be crucified. That Jesus could forgive the men who were responsible for beating him and torturing him and hanging him on a cross is incredible. They hurled insults at him and mocked him almost the whole time He was on the cross. Which brings us to the first aspect of the forgiveness of Christ. It wasn’t dependant on the remorse of those who mistreated Him. No where in scripture is it recorded that one of Jesus’ accusers or abusers came up to Him on the cross and said, “Hey, I’m really sorry for putting you through this. I know you’re an innocent man.” Yet Christ made the decision to forgive them even though they obviously weren’t sorry. The kind of forgiveness that God has called us to is not dependant upon the person who wronged being sorry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t forgive them, they aren’t even sorry.” Or, “I can’t forgive them because they haven’t repented.” That is between them and God, but as far as you it simply doesn’t matter. You have to forgive because if you do not it will stop you from being the kind of person that God has called you to be. The hurt and resentment will only eat away at you like acid. Keith Smith tells of a man who had to make that decision.