Summary: God’s command of forgiveness becomes personal when we take ownership.
Some years ago, a 14-foot bronze crucifix was stolen from Calvary Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas. It had stood at the entrance to that cemetery for more than 50 years. The cross was put there in 1930 by a Catholic bishop and had been valued at the time at $10,000. The thieves apparently cut it off at its base and hauled it off in a pick-up. Police speculate that they cut it into small pieces and sold it for scrap.
The thieves hoped the 900-pound cross could get them $450. They obviously didn't realize the value of that cross. If they can kept it tact, the cross would be worth over $10,000.
That is the problem, of course—understanding the value of the cross. As the gospel writers relate the story of Jesus' crucifixion, the theme that runs through all the details is rejection. Not only did people not see the value of Jesus, they also didn't understand the value of his death.
I think we’re guilty in a way…the cross has become more of a symbol of religion than a symbol of sacrifice.
We finish a series today called “The Absurd & Outrageous Commands of God”. This being our 7th week, we have looked at commands God issued that seems crazy…they pushed people to a deeper level of faith.
Remember where we started…
God’s commands are meant to meet our challenges.
Today, the command exposes our greatest challenge: Forgiveness.
Now, before you get uptight, we’re not going to talk about the person you need to forgive or the person you need to apologize to. Today is significantly different.
This is about you. This is about your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is when you assume the consequences for someone else's wrong.
That's what Jesus did for us.
My question is not: Do you know that Jesus has forgiven you.
My question is: Do you know what forgiveness feels like? Have owned what Jesus did?
To explain today’s command, I need to verbally paint a picture for you.
I can tell you today – everyone here – “Jesus loves you and you’re forgiven!”
So many of us hear that, but we do not take ownership of that.
Explain the series we’re in (it ends today).
Today’s command…our final command that we’re looking at:
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
I’m sticking to what I said earlier – I’m not sure every one of us has taken ownership of those words. We like forgiveness – we appreciate forgiveness.
Do we live like we’ve owned that forgiveness?
I believe there is one way to own that forgiveness – it is to understand what Jesus did to give it to you.
Now, the facts I am about to say are exactly that…facts. They are proven historical events. There is more proof for what I am about to tell you then the majority of what we read in a high school history book.
To understand the command, we have to review the most painful details of Jesus’ final hours before He died. You don’t need to take notes. I want you to listen with your hears, but more importantly, I want you to hear me with your heart.
I’ll start with the moment Jesus was officially betrayed…
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.