Learning how to extend the same love and forgiveness that Jesus has extended to us.
The Bible verse below is one that we tend to save for Easter-time. We don’t really like to talk about Jesus dying on the cross. It’s sad and it reminds us of the deep price of our sin.
But what this story also holds is the tremendous power of love and forgiveness.
The book of Luke, chapter 23 reads:
“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.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.'”
Though He was mocked, Jesus forgave.
“The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!'”
Though he was pulled from every side, Jesus stayed steadfast. His heart was still full of love and tenderness, even in the presence of those who beat his body to the brink of death.
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
To those hanging next to Him on the cross, those who were rightly, by law, hanging on a cross to their death, Jesus showed mercy. He forgave the one who reached out for it.
This passage is so much bigger than the Easter season. I want to remind you that you have the same Spirit living in you that lived in Jesus as he hung on that cross. The Spirit of strength, love, mercy, grace.
You, too, are capable of such incredible love. You, too, are able to forgive those who seem “too far gone”. We the redeemed have been born into a new life and a new level of capability when it comes to love and forgiveness.
Take Jesus’ responses to these circumstances as a roadmap to loving people into wholeness and deeming them as one who is worthy of mercy.
In times when you are hard-pressed on every side, I encourage you to harness the Spirit of God inside of you and determine to let blessing and grace be what flows from your words and from your actions. Even when it’s hard and you feel like a victim, you still have the option to either bless or curse.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)
You, who were redeemed from your sin, don’t you ever hold someone else’s sin against them. You who have been blessed and absolved, so go and preach the good news of Jesus Christ who will do just as He did in you, in them.