Summary: One of God’s favorite words is “forgiveness.” As we look at the first words of Jesus on that last day, we can’t help but say, “God really thinks this is important.”
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This is how my heavenly Father will treat you each unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)
What does the worst day of your life look like? Is it a ticket from the police? a burnt meal when a special guest is sitting in your dining room? the death of loved one?
For Dave Roever it was late 1968 when he found himself in Vietnam for the first time serving with the United States as a member of the elite Brown Water Black Beret. He served in the Mekong Delta area until July 26, 1969 when he was severely wounded. As the boat he was riding in while looking for the enemy came around the corner, a sniper bullet pierced his hand and went right through the phosphorous grenade that he had raised within six inches of his head.
The grenade exploded and blew up the boat. On fire, he laid face down in the river, part of his head blown off and his body severely damaged. Large amounts of his skin were floating around him as he was rescued from the burning water. Several of his team lost their lives that day.
As they carried him to the helicopter the burning phosphorous caused him to burn right though the stretcher and he landed right on his head as he fell to the ground. He was having a really bad day.
Later, en route to the medical hospital, the doctors on the helicopter thought he had died, so they took his dog tag and got ready to pound it between his teeth, indicating his death. He thought to himself, “This is going to hurt.” Suddenly Dave opened his eyes and it so scared the helicopter crew that they almost crashed. He said, “I knew we were going to crash that day and I would be the only one to live.” (1) A really bad day.
It was Passover. They all wondered if they had the ability to betray their master. Night fell over the city of cities, Jerusalem. The business of the day gave way to quiet crickets and an occasional weary traveler looking for lodging. As a thick curtain of evil descended upon the Holy City, the light of the world is about to be snuffed out by the powers of darkness.
It was only a temporary blackout, for after three days the Light of the World would rise again, bringing everlasting life to those who would receive it. On the road to His final breath, Jesus would experience a day like no other. It would be the worst day mankind would walk through. It was filled with:
Realistic reminders: Words that were directed to Peter: “Peter, Satan is not only after me, but he has you in the cross hairs of his bow,”…he is aiming for a bigger prize than Judas:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31)
Unfaithful disciples: Jesus needs His disciples to help carry the load. Yet they can’t stay awake to pray, and they all flee when the heat in the oven gets too hot. Even Peter who said he would fight to the death is overcome by the pressure of the hour.
Even Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14:31)
Deceitful Judas: Jesus finally releases His will to that of His father. Not a moment too soon as a serpentine-like trail of soldiers led by the snake, Judas himself, comes through the entrance to the garden known as Gethsemane. With poison in his kiss, Judas steps forward and consummates the evil transaction.
Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” (Mark 14:44)
Fearful Peter: The Lion of the tribe of Judah is tied up like a lamb and led to the slaughter. The mob snakes its way out of the garden and frightened disciples flee into the streets of Jerusalem to hide in the alleys, discouraged because of the turn of events. Peter takes his first fearful step as he follows the crowd to the high priest’s house and tries to stay warm by a night fire. It is not long before his voice gives him away.