Summary: The act which is mentioned in such a matter of fact manner in the gospel of Luke is the ultimate act of forgiveness
Father, Forgive them for they do not know what they do!! (Luke 23:34)
A simple, matter of fact statement made in the gospel of Luke is actually the ultimate act of forgiveness. We know the story, so I won’t repeat the story. But let us look at the concept of forgiveness in brief, based on this.
Healing and forgiveness is perhaps the most spoken and written about subject.. but how much of it is really practiced? The well known preacher C H Spurgeon says this “The most outstanding mark of a Christian is his willingness to forgive those who have hurt or injured him.” I could not agree with him more. Research shows that one of the most common reasons for people coming to the faith and then falling out is their unwillingness to forgive. They give up Christianity because they find the concept of forgiving, loving the enemy, caring for the enemy,.. impractical, and they do not want to be hypocritical. The fact is; all of us live our lives, carrying our own baggage. Let us try and see what is in that baggage. It contains some of our prized possessions. Here it is ,. I find a knife here.. ah.. this is the knife I keep for stabbing others who hurt me, there are many people on whom I want to use this knife on. My colleagues at work, may be my spouse, my sibling, my neighbors, my parents, my church members.. the list can go on and on.. So what I do? I keep this knife with me.. you never know when you might need it , right? But you know, there is a problem here… what do we see attached to the knife.. ah.. that is a chain. Let us follow the chain to see what is at the other end of the chain.. well, it is another knife.. the knife some one else is keeping to stab me.. isn’t it interesting? What do we see here? Another chain attached to my knife.. let us see where that one leads.. well.. that leads to the big man Satan himself. He wants to use this chain to control me and make sure that I am connected to him.
So how do we deal with this baggage that we carry? Some of us try to suppress it. This leads to psychological problems, and in many cases it resurfaces. Some of us try to bury it. But then it comes alive again. Some of us choose the other extreme of chewing on it constantly hoping that it will go away. Some of us “Blow our top” to get out of the situation, this might be directed against the person who hurt us, or to some innocent others. Another way we deal with it is by releasing our anger and frustration through some physical activity, like using a punching bag. Some of us run away from the problem, some of us justify being hurt. The most usual justification is that we are “human” and hence we do not want to compete with Jesus or the saints in forgiving or healing.
None of these mechanisms are effective, and they bounce back to us.
Let us get back to our knives.. so how do we get rid of the knives that others are pointing at us? How do we get out of the control of the evil one who holds on to our knife? Simple.. isn’t it. Just let go of your knife. You are no longer connected to the other knife or Satan, isn’t it? You see , this chain that you see here is called the chain of “ungrace”. Some one has to break it.. you can choose to be the one!! You must have heard the story of how monkeys are caught. There is only one way to free ourselves, let go .. and heal ourselves and help heal others. This is such a powerful leadership principle.
Psalm 103:3-5 is a beautiful illustration of how God raises a leader through the process of Forgiving (v3), healing (v3), redeeming (V4), crowning (v4), and satisfying (v5). Joseph’s act of revealing himself to his brothers (Genesis 45:4-7) is another example of how important, forgiving and healing self and others is. Numerous examples set by Jesus himself confirm this crowned through this act on the very cross itself. Paul’s exhortations for us to continue to reconcile with ourselves and our brethren, are many in the Bible.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18: 21-35 .There are several important principles concerning biblical forgiveness taught in this story. It starts with Jesus explaining that we need to forgive seventy times seven, and then goes on to give the parable of the unforgiving servant, and ends with a warning that forgiveness from the Father is conditional!! We need to be able to forgive others as he forgave us!!