Easter weekend is a wonderful time to reflect and thank God for this gift of his Son. Last year, our friend, George Philip from TWR India, wrote a beautiful message about the ultimate symbol of forgiveness: the cross. With his permission, we are sharing it with you. It is our hope and prayer that you would be encouraged and strengthened as you remember our great redeemer this weekend.
Lent, Good Friday and Easter may just be another holiday to some folks. But to those who have personally experienced Christ in their lives, these occasions hold immense meaning. To those who know Christ, all of eternity rests on Christ's death and his resurrection. It would be wrong to misunderstand the attachment to these occasions for a time to pity Christ and his suffering on the cross, excruciating as they were. Christ was in absolute control even in his death. Because he willingly chose to die for us and triumph over death, he was able to teach us many truths through his suffering. I believe the most important truth to learn from here is forgiveness.
God forgave mankind through the death of Christ. Now “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NIV)
No ordinary death would have sufficed for the sacrificial lamb punished for the sins of the world. A death of intense suffering and shame was decided upon. Man has done the unimaginable to Christ. The Saviour has been nailed to a rugged cross. There he hangs. Is he crying out for pity? Is he cursing those who wrongfully crucified him? No. He is praying, praying for his enemies, a prayer of forgiveness.
We live in a world torn apart by a spirit of unforgiveness. Nations fighting for decades on border disputes. People distorted by the scars of their past. Families destroyed because of silly feuds. Even churches divided just because the members can't forgive one another. Because of this unforgiving spirit, people kill and waste valuable resources such as money, time and talent.
In such a situation, we look to Christ's example on the cross. In reaction to the worst possible unjust punishment levied on someone, Jesus had every right and capability to call down all of heaven's forces to strike his captors down and loosen his righteous wrath to slay them. Instead, even though subjected to unspeakable shame, suffering excruciating pain, though despised, rejected and hated, his only cry was, "Father, forgive them." (Luke 23:34) Christ is our supreme and ultimate example on forgiving others.
When we fail to forgive those who hurt us, we open ourselves to become an easy target for Satan. God commands us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32)
The path of Christ is all about bestowing undeserved favour and grace. It is only through Jesus' blood shed on the cross that we are forgiven. When we begin to recognize the amount of grace God has bestowed on us through Jesus' death and resurrection, we will develop a sense of gratitude that will enable us to forgive others as well.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. We may not be able to forget our past, but we can be free from the pain by forgiving others. Forgiveness seems hard because it goes against our sense of what is right and fair. But until we let go of our hate and anger, it will continue to hurt us. We forgive for our sake, so that we can be free. God wants us to be free and forgiveness is the only way. Our Lord Jesus on the cross demonstrated real forgiveness and asks us to follow his footsteps.