Good Friday

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From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

This past week, my husband, Frank, and I had one of the biggest fights we’ve had in the sixteen years of our relationship. Susan, I forgive you for asking me to talk about forgiveness in the midst of that. You didn’t know what you were doing.

From the cross, Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness from the cross isn’t the first time he’s taught us about forgiveness. In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.”

And in Matthew chapter six, Jesus’ followers come to him and ask him to teach them how to pray. In that prayer, which eventually came to be called the Lord’s Prayer, are these words, “Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, God,  just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.” Jesus ends his instruction on how to pray in this way: “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.”

There’s a familiarity, a rhythm, a cadence to Jesus’ words about forgiveness. Forgive others…love others. God forgives us…love God. Do you sense the connection between forgiveness and the Great Commandment, to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself”? Forgiveness is the key to being able to live out that Great Commandment, by God’s grace.

We are going to hurt one another in this world. Sometimes the hurt is slight and forgiveness comes easily. Other times the hurt is seemingly beyond bearing and forgiveness is all but impossible.

Thank God we do not have to forgive on our own! We forgive because God forgives us. We love because God loves us.

“God shows God’s love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Shared with Belmont United Methodist Church on Good Friday, 2016.

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4 thoughts on “Good Friday

  1. beautiful but deeply challenging words. a moving service. it seems to me Jesus’ words require a merciful patience with one another in the absence of resolution or on the path to reconciliation. maybe forgiveness is the path. forgiveness for what we may not even realize we’re doing to one another has to come first.

    Like

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