Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Father, forgive them"

The following words were spoken by Jesus at the time of his death on the cross. Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Jesus knew the weight of this moment in time. The whole world needed forgiveness of sin even if we didn't realize it at the time. Even though we were crucifying Jesus, even though we were hurling insults at him during his death, even though we turned our back on him, he knew and understood that we had not a clue as to what was going on. We did not know or understand the significance of this event in history. Jesus knowing this... called out to his Father God to forgive us for what we were doing and God in his graciousness forgave us and gave us new life through his son Jesus. God forgave the Jewish leaders, the Roman politicians and soldiers, all the bystanders, and everyone that participated in the murder of his Son because Jesus asked for us to be forgiven. God answered Jesus prayer and opened up the way of salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

I've always been amazed at God's love for us. The fact that he would sacrifice his son as an atonement or payment for our sin. Even more amazing is even though Jesus was being killed and suffering so greatly during this painful death, he sees past the moment and the pain and asks God to forgive us. I must think that the suffering was so great for both Jesus and God, that a reminder from Jesus to his Father was needed. Seeing the hate from the people, seeing the satisfaction that these people must have had on their faces, would be enough to think... forget it! They don't deserve eternal life, look at them, ungrateful, unappreciative, terrible, evil people! God could have easily poured his wrath out on the world at that moment and said forget it all! But Jesus said... Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. A reminder of our ignorance. So God allowed it to happen and raised his son up from the dead three days later and provided a way for us to have eternal life. To live in the presence of almighty God forever forgiven and free of sin.

God does forgive! But we must ask just as Jesus asked for our forgiveness during his crucifixion. You see if we ask for His forgiveness it means that we trust that He can forgive us. You wouldn't ask God for forgiveness unless you truly believed that He had the ability and authority to forgive you. God has proved his unfailing love for us because even in his misery of seeing his Son dying on the cross He forgave us as Jesus prayed for us. We can see another example of God's love and forgiveness during Jesus death on the cross. Luke 23:39-43 shows us again the love and forgiveness of God. As this man, this criminal was dying, he turned to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and Christ accepted him. You see, even in his misery, Jesus had mercy on this criminal who decided to believe in him. It's never too late to turn to God for forgiveness. This also shows us that it's not our works that save us but rather our faith in Christ. It's in our belief that God can forgive us of our sin and it's when we come to Him asking for forgiveness that we see the love of God poured out on us. Instead of getting what we deserve (death and separation from a Holy God) we get eternal life. It's not earned, it's not deserved, it's simply a gift of love because of our faith and belief that God can forgive us if we ask.

So the next time you realize you've sinned against God, take it to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness we are actually saying, I've wronged you in some way and I know you don't have to forgive me but I'm asking for your forgiveness. Please forgive me. The result is one or the other. Forgiveness or not. When you deal with people... sometimes they choose not to forgive you when you ask. They can't get past the fact that you've hurt them and they refuse forgiveness. But when you ask God for forgiveness remember that he will always forgive you because the ultimate test was during his Sons death on the cross. Even though we drove the nails through Jesus hands and feet, even though we drove the spear through his side, even though we hung him on the cross, and even though we whipped and beat him, God forgave us.

Don't you think that God will forgive you of the sins you committed today? You see there is nothing that you can do that God can't forgive you for? The worst thing we could have ever done, we did already, and He forgave us for it. So don't carry around guilt for your sins of today. Acknowledge those sins and take them to Jesus for forgiveness. Just as Jesus saw the ignorance of the people that were putting him to death... He also sees our weaknesses, our foolishness, and our sinful ways. Just as he did then, he does today... he stands ready to pray on our behalf before almighty God. Again he will pray... "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

What do you need forgiveness for? Take it to Jesus and be forgiven.

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