Summary: Let me begin by making two statements: First, forgiveness may be unnecessary among perfect beings, but it is vital to those of us with enough wisdom to admit we are imperfect. Second, above all, we need forgiveness from our Creator just to be reconcil
TEXT: Luke 23:34a
TITLE: FROM THE CROSS TO THE WORLD
Let me begin by making two statements:
First, forgiveness may be unnecessary among perfect beings, but it is vital to those of us with enough wisdom to admit we are imperfect. It seems we can’t help but offend, betray, or commit wrongs against God and one another—even on our “good days” when we have the best of intentions.
Second, above all, we need forgiveness from our Creator just to be reconciled with Him. Once we are reconciled to God, He tells us in parable and command to extend the same forgiveness to others that he extends to us. It is a difficult assignment for such imperfect people, but there is a secret source of power in forgiveness for those with eyes to see and a will to obey.
Whether you realize it or not we are in the grip of a terminal disease for which there is no cure except God’s miracle elixir of divine forgiveness. The disease we have is called sin. Forgiveness is an essential grace of God. Forgiveness is the answer to the disease of sin. Without forgiveness, there is no hope for any of us. Without forgiveness you and I could never be healed of this disease. The disease of sin is terminal without forgiveness.
Once we receive God’s costly potion from the cross, it should remain in our blood, our hearts, and our way of life. For this reason, forgiveness is one of the “fruits” providing proof that Christians are changed people.
That day when Jesus hung on the cross the crowd probably didn’t realize that when Jesus said, “Forgive,” a tremendous release of energy and power permeated the universe and funneled down to earth. Grace was released to do its mediatorial work in that instant.
Jesus our Lord was suffering excruciating agony on the cross at Calvary when He looked toward Heaven and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34a). Perhaps we should be praying, “Father, forgive us, for we know exactly what we are doing, and we are doing it anyway.” Unlike the crowd gathered around the cross, we can’t plead, “Guilty by ignorance.” I would venture to say that most here today know the difference between right and wrong.
Forgiveness exploded in two directions on the human timeline.
On that day Jesus was not merely speaking to the profane and the perplexed who gathered around the cross 2,000 years ago. Those few words from the Savior’s mouth exploded in “both directions” on the timeline of human existence.
The forgiveness offered by God’s Son carried the potential to forgive and cover the sins of every human being who lived in the ages prior to His brutal death on the cross of Calvary. It also carried forward in time from the bloody Mount outside Jerusalem to forgive and cover all the sins of man until His victorious second coming as Lord of lords and King of kings. The only catch to the miracle is that each person must admit their need for forgiveness, and choose to receive it from Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
You cannot force the power of forgiveness upon the unwilling. True forgiveness is a product of Heaven alone. God has provided forgiveness but you must receive it for it to be effective. Having the medicine for the cure of whatever I have will not do me any good if I don’t take it. I can look at it, touch it and even hold it but it will not help me if I don’t take it.
The cross is the place where divine power withheld its might while grace worked its greatest miracle. The sweetest story of God is the story of our Lord’s victory on Calvary’s bitter cross.
When Jesus said, “Forgive…,” the hordes of hell were bound, and satan felt the first chill signaling his miserable defeat. Within 3 hours, the suffering was complete and the Lord Jesus announced to the Father that His job was done.
When forgiveness is present, the enemy of your soul has to back up without a word being said to him. His hands are tied and he cannot work in the presence of forgiveness. Forgiveness puts the handcuffs of Heaven on hell itself.
You see, when you accept forgiveness satan is bound. He can’t bring up accusations against you anymore. He is bound by forgiveness.
The same is true in a church. When there is unforgiveness he works to destroy a church. But when you forgive you bind him with the handcuffs of heaven.
Have you ever heard someone ask, “How can I forgive someone who doesn’t ask for that forgiveness?” The answer should be: “Ask Jesus.” Show me one man or woman kneeling at the cross of Calvary and looking up into the face of the dying Savior to say, “Forgive us.” According to the Bible’s scores of eyewitnesses, no one was asking Jesus for forgiveness that day. It just didn’t happen. He said, “Forgive them…” anyway.