As Jesus hung on the cross, He uttered those famous words of selfless love,
Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. -Luke 23:34
Jesus highlights a reality that we can readily identify with today- that there are people who are crucifying Christ that do not know their actions are wrong. Many of those people in the crowd on Calvary that day didn’t know who Jesus was. Many knew who He was, but thought He was upsetting what God had put in place. Many thought wrong. Many were in need of forgiveness.
Do you think those people involved in crucifying Him were forgiven?
However, we find throughout Scripture this idea that forgiveness is not a one time thing- that it’s entirely possible to have been forgiven and later be condemned. Let us consider, for example, the parable of the ungrateful debtor found in Matthew 18:23-35.
This man owed a sizable amount to his master. When confronted with his debt, he realized he didn’t have the money. The merciful master, when seeing the servant bowing humbly before him, forgave the debt. Did the servant walk away forgiven? Absolutely.
Then we read the rest of the parable. The servant goes out to someone who owes him money and demands payment. When the man can’t pay up, he’s thrown in jail. What happens next runs contrary to the theology of many Christians today…
The master finds out about the incident and actually revokes his grace from the servant. Then Jesus tells the disciples the lesson from the parable there in verse 35: that our heavenly Father will revoke grace from us if we’re unforgiving towards others that sin against us.
What a humbling lesson to learn- that God’s judgment of us is ongoing and His grace towards us is in some way dependent upon our thoughts/behaviors towards others! Can we gain salvation without this grace from God?
Today, let’s pray that God will cultivate a spirit of forgiveness within us and let go of resentment and bitterness towards others, amen?
In “Part 2”, we’ll discuss some of the fascinating truths about God’s forgiveness and how He deals with even unknown sins, such as the sins Jesus prayed to the Father to forgive of those who crucified Him.