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The Power of Forgiveness

04.07.19 Nathaniel Wall

  1. The Power of Compassion
    04.21.19 29m 55s
  2. The Power of Redemption
    04.14.19 36m 40s
  3. The Power of Forgiveness
    04.07.19 39m 39s

The Power of Forgiveness

04.07.19 Nathaniel Wall Easter: Words from the Cross Series

We’re going to start a new series together on the idea of Easter and what it represents, or somebody might refer to it as resurrection Sunday, and what it represents for us. I would say for the Christian life, the resurrection of Jesus is the pinnacle of Christianity. In fact, it is the greatest event in all of history. Yeah. I think personally, I like to see old battlefields. Last year I remember I went to Montana to just see Custer’s, visit a friend, but I went to where Custer’s last stand was, and it was incredible just to see that layout of how that battle took place. And it didn’t go so well for Custer, but to be present on those battlefields is something incredible to see. What was won, what was lost, just the historical event there. But you study the battles of history, there’s no greater battle that was fought than what Jesus did for your soul on the cross, and that was the greatest battle in all of history.

In fact, the Apostle Paul says in First Corinthians 15 that if Jesus wasn’t resurrected from the grave, we’re the most pity that of all people on the earth, followers of Jesus. His resurrection is the pinnacle of Christianity. And in fact, when you study the early disciples, when Jesus went to the cross, the disciples all ran away scared except for John, the youngest of the disciples. He was there at the cross. But the rest all ran away, scared. And then all of a sudden they come back with this fire for their faith in the Lord. And the reason for that is because they couldn’t deny the fact that they had seen a dead man walking. They saw Jesus come back from the grave and and they lost their lives. They were martyred for that proclamation. They could not deny that truth. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus becomes the pinnacle of our faith and the hope of our own resurrection because of what Jesus has done.

And so over this series together, we’re going to look at the significance of the cross and especially what Jesus says from the crosses, his words from the cross. When we talk about Easter season, historically Christianity has tried to do things to help us recognize the significance of what has taken place here. In fact, I mean we’ve done it as a church, I just told you about the invite on Easter Sunday. Invite your friends and family. Here’s a card. We’re going to have a cookout. Make it a big deal because this is the biggest deal on our calendar right? And the church has tried to respond that way. In fact, in the fourth century, the church started, not every church, but Christianity started to celebrate something that’s called Lent, happens 40 days before, it begins 40 days before Easter, The resurrection of Jesus.

And the reason for this is because they wanted people to prepare their hearts for the significance of what Easter was. And I’ll tell you the purpose of Lent has kind of molded and changed over the years and people’s intentions behind it aren’t always good. People have Lent season come around and they’re like … The encouragement during Lent is to get rid of something that distances you from your relationship with God, but people don’t really use it for that. Sometimes they’re like, “Okay, I do bad things. I want to do good things.” And if you just view life as doing bad things and wanting to do good things, you can do that all day long and never get closer to God, right? So I’m not telling you to observe Lent or not observe Lent. I frankly, I don’t care. What I would really rather you do is in your heart, find ways to pursue Jesus for all that he is and all that he means to your life, right?

And so if you want to call that Lent and make it last 10,000 days, I don’t care. But the point is to remove things in your life that just create that distance from you and God. But unfortunately some people make it about bad and good. “I want to do good and not bad.” And so they’re like, “Okay, I need to diet, or I’m on my smart phone way too much, or I’m watching too much TV and so I’ll cut all the bad things to not do those things,” but the reality is you may not ever get closer to God, right.

When I think about this Easter season though, and I think about maybe the idea of Lent or just drawing near to God, let’s say if there’s one thing I think I could hope for us that we could find ourselves getting rid of to really appreciate what Easter is, I would say you would make the most out of Easter if what we would give up is our guilt and shame. And we would embrace the very purpose for which Jesus went to the cross for us. I can’t think of a better way to embrace the grace that’s demonstrated to us than the forgiveness of the guilt and shame we have in our lives and because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. To really appreciate the cross, I think for us rather than just talk about a holiday or Lent or Easter, we should just look at the cross itself, and to find out exactly what Jesus has done for us. When you think about the Cross of Christ, it tells us in John Chapter 19 verse one that Jesus was scourged. He was flogged, he was lashed for us.

And so his punishment begins with this scourging, which eventually leads to the crown of thorns on his head and being beaten and ultimately to the cross. But when the Jews would lash somebody, their law said that there would be lashed up to 39 times, save one. So 40 was considered, a person would die, 39 they could endure it and still survive. So the Jews would lash someone 39 times, save one. However, Jesus wasn’t scourged by the Jews. He was scourged by the Romans and the Romans didn’t have such a law to govern them.

In fact, when Jesus was sentenced by Pilate in John Chapter 19 verse one for the Romans to take Him out of the room and soldiers take Him out in the scourge Him, the people that carried out that duty were really professional executioners and torturers. And that was their job in the Rome, and they had become experts on torturing someone to the point of an inch of their life and then relenting. Well, I say that, but reality is history tells us that about half of those that were scourged die just from the scourging.

You can imagine when Jesus was being scourged that by the time he walked away from this moment or someone drug him away from this moment, that his back, shoulders, sides were just shredded. In fact, beyond that, the Gospels just record what happened with Jesus. It says in John 19, Pilate Jesus, had him scourged, in verse two the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put that on his head. In Mark 14 verse 65 some begin to spit at him and to blindfold him and to beat him with their fists and to say to him prophecy. And the officer’s received him with slaps in the face. Isaiah 52 verse 14 describes this, what Jesus looked like prophetically, before this event happened, but it says this, “His appearance was marred more than any man. He was unrecognizable.” And this was before the cross.

Let me ask, if you were in those, in this similar position, how would you respond in this situation? Now, I know the Roman soldiers likely had some sort of expectation for the type of response that they would receive from people. Cursing, threats, screaming. If you were about to lay me down and nail me to a cross, I don’t think I would be like, “Oh, here you go, right?” I’ll turn into a vicious animal. If you put your arm near me, I will bite it off, man. There’s nothing calm about this moment. So the soldiers had an expectation as to what they would receive from individuals in which they would torture or execute. But Jesus didn’t react in that way.

Instead of screaming, threatening, or cursing, Jesus did the unimaginable. His reaction might leave one to think that he was intentionally going to the cross. When Jesus goes to the cross, he provides for us seven statements in the Gospels. Short statements, but I would say world statements. Jesus, in this moment, knowing it’s the greatest battle fought in history for your soul, “The world will remember this day.” And what he says is important.

Words carry power. Like James tells us that, the tongue has power. And there are particular times within our lives when we recognize that the words that we say carry even more weight. Like a child’s first words. I can think with our three kids, the first two, I was all about getting them to say, “Dad” first, and then they did, right? And then we have a third one, and I’m like, “Okay, I got to throw my wife a bone here.” So with the third kid every chance I get, I’m like, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.” And lo and behold, his first word comes out and he says, “Dad.” And it’s like, “Oh man, I have horrible.” The first words you remember from your kid or even last words.

You’ll set up a bedside vigil next to a loved one just to hear those dying words that they express from their heart. And here in the Gospels, the Gospel writers record Jesus’s last words, not lengthy, but important. Last words as if to invite you to lean in, to understand exactly what’s on Jesus’s heart as he gives his life on the cross. And to the shock of the soldiers, to the shock of the world, rather than curse, rather than fight, Jesus embraces the cross. What does he say in Luke chapter 23? His final statements, his last words as Jesus, this is the first statement that he makes on the cross out of the seven statements. But his first statement of his last statements, it’s a prayer. And here’s what he says. “Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'” In this moment, being tortured, unjustly, being perfect and having people come against him and the thought on Jesus’s mind is a prayer of forgiveness. Now when Jesus utters this prayer, I want us to know in this particular context, Jesus is giving this statement, I think to specific people around him.

But when it comes to these words, I want us to know these words that we should never stop in the struggle of making these words personal to us, and living these words out. For many of us we’re probably familiar with this statement, right? And Jesus in the immediate context he is expressing this to people around him, but in a larger context, it carries so much more weight than just the immediate crowd around him. And for you as a believer and reading these words, I mean, it’s in the text of scripture for more than just the particular context. And struggling with what this phrase means and making this personal and living it out, it becomes the challenge of really demonstrating our lives. If we understand what Easter is about, and I’ll explain all that, unpack all that in just a minute, but in this is immediate context, Jesus is making this directly to the people around him. He is praying this on behalf of the people around him and the reason I know that is because the next verse, it says this, “And the people stood by looking on.” Not really doing anything about it.

I’ll say he’s referring to the crowd here. In this crowd, most of the people are against him, right? I mean, this is the crowd that in Jesus’s Triumphal entry a week ago said, “Hosanna blesses he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and then just a few hours ago are chanting, “Crucify him.” But within this crowd, there are a few people that love Jesus. There’s John the Apostle is there. Jesus’s mother is there, right? But for the most part the the crowd is against Jesus and even the rulers that says were sneering at him saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself. If this is the Christ of God, His chosen one,” the soldiers also mocked him, coming up to him, offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” It goes on just a couple of verses later and says, even the criminals crucified on either side of Jesus are mocking Jesus.

And so Jesus is giving this prayer. He’s doing it on behalf of those who are crucifying him. I even think Jesus is likely praying this prayer for those who should have been there that had abandoned him, his disciples, right? But when you read this passage, I think the context is much bigger than the general audience that’s around Jesus. In fact, scripture that takes it further in that forest. In fact, Peter and reflecting on this moment said this in chapter two verse 24, “He himself bore our sins,” talking about all of us, “in his body, on the cross that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.”

So Peter’s recognizing this, that we belong to the kingdom of darkness, the Kingdom of sin, but he bore our sins that we could live for the kingdom of light, the kingdom of righteousness, and because of his wounds and accepting our punishment on this cross, by his wounds, you have been healed.

In fact, Peter wanting us to see the significance of this moment is quoting all the way from Isaiah chapter 53 to help us recognize that God didn’t just plan this off the cuff, that this has been God’s intentions from the beginning for your soul, this battle taking place. Isaiah 53, “Surely he took upon our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted, but he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our inequities. The punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we have been healed.”

As if to say this. If God can forgive those that put him on the cross, surely he can forgive you. I mean simply put, this moment on the cross, I think, demonstrates to us two powerful thoughts. One is the great expense of our sin. I mean, look what our sin led to. It’s the crucifixion of God himself. God becomes flesh and dies for you and for me the greatness of our sin.

In fact, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians chapter two verse 21, “And those that fail to recognize the significance of this moment for their soul.” He says, “If righteousness could be achieved through the law, then Christ died needlessly.” Meaning, don’t undermine this moment. Don’t make light of this moment. Don’t think you can go out of this world and live religiously and satisfy God. It’s not possible. If it were possible, Jesus would’ve never died, but because Jesus came and Jesus died, Jesus is demonstrating to us the significance of what this moment represents for your life. If there were another way, Paul is making the argument at the very last verse in Galatians two, then God would have led us to that other way.

But there was no other way, because if righteousness could be achieved through the law, then Christ would have died needlessly. When we call Jesus the Savior, we’re not going to recognize the significance of that word savior or salvation until we see the desperation that rests for our soul. We need him. Not like you lack the basic essentials of life, even deeper than that. Your soul, you’re created as a being with a soul designed for God. You need him. One of the incredible verses I think in scripture that helped me see this, the Apostle Paul in First Timothy chapter one verse 15, I used to read this verse and I want to be honest and just say, I used to read it wrong. I’ll read you this verse and it says this: “It’s a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came in the world to save sinners among whom I am foremost of all.”

I used to read the verse in the, yeah, Paul was a bad sinner. Good thing God saved him. He ended up becoming the most incredible Christian ever. He was a bad sinner, right? But here’s the thing: It never says Paul was a sinner. What Paul says, it says, “I am a sinner.” Paul sees his present condition apart from God as sinful. And when I think about Paul, I used to read this and think, “Paul was, he was a bad sinner. He persecuted the church. I mean, he’s responsible for killing Christians, putting Christians in jail. He was a bad sinner.” In fact, in Galatians chapter one verse 23 it says about Paul that the people knew that the one who used to persecute the faith is now become a follower of Christ and that’s encouraging people to follow Jesus.

Paul was a bad sinner, but when Paul talks about his life here, he doesn’t just say that he was a bad sinner, he says, “I am the chief of sinners.” If Paul calls himself a sinner, what does that make me? I would say it like this: If the biggest sinner you know isn’t you, then you don’t know yourself very well. When Jesus tried to get us to identify this when he preached the sermon on the Mountain, Matthew five to Matthew seven because people in this day believed they could live religious law and live it righteously, and Jesus shows up and he’s like, “Look, the law’s not given to you to understand that you can live righteously.” In fact, while it’s giving you, condemn you, and here’s how Jesus explains it. He says this, he says, “Unless you live a life more righteous than the Pharisees, you can’t attain eternal life.” And at that time, people were thought themselves, “Who in the world could live more holy than Pharisees?” Because they were the religious leaders at the time.

And Jesus goes on, he says this, “You’ve heard it said, do not kill. But if you’ve had anger in your heart that makes you a murderer. You’ve heard it said, to not commit adultery, but if you’ve had lust in your heart, you’ve committed adultery. The problem isn’t your behavior.” The problem is your heart. And you and I know when you’re by yourself, the thoughts that you consider, the things that you think. What if in the quietness of your own heart, your personal thoughts and intentions weren’t able to be hidden anymore? What if it were exposed to the world?

God sees that. God sees that heart. And that’s what Paul is wrestling with in this verse, that he is a sinner. Now he’s saved by Christ, but he is a sinner. Now you can look at the thought of being a sinner and say, “Okay, thanks Nathaniel. I thought you wanted me to get rid of guilt and shame. Remember, well, this is what Easter’s about and we’re getting rid of guilt and shame and so far off to the start. Here we are, and now all we’re talking about is my guilt and shame, right?”

Now, just hold on for a second because I want us to recognize this because if we don’t talk about guilt and shame and sin in these moments, we’re never going to see the significance of what Jesus does in our own lives. But seeing the significance of what Jesus has done over your life and the battle he fought for you, placed tremendously in how you demonstrate a life of pursuing Jesus in this world. And so the guilt and shame becomes an important part to recognizing what God then desires to do in it through the cross. So at the cross we see the great expense of our sin, but even better than that, we see the even greater love of our God.

What drove him there? Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. In the midst of your sin, Jesus loves you. In fact, the Apostle John was the only disciple we know that was at the cross, right? In First John chapter four he starts to reflect on this morning, in fact, in verse eight he says, “God is love.” And then in verse nine he then takes that thought into the cross as he describes them all. He says this, “But this, the love of God was manifested.” So if you want to know how God is love, this is how we know God is love. It was made known to us that God has sent his only begotten son into the world so that we might live through him.

So in the death of our sin, we now have life in Jesus. In this is love. Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. Look, he’s saying like this, “In your sin, your demonstration of sin means you reject the kingdom of God. You don’t love God, but in that lack of love on your behalf, Jesus still loves you.”

So while you look at the cross and see the greatness of your sin, you can also look at the cross and see the even greater love of your God. No sin you’ve ever done could outdo the love and grace of God over your life. That’s the power of this cross. That’s why this becomes the anthem of the church. This is why this battle is so important, that no matter how dark you may feel, you have been in your life, or are in your life, Jesus’s love is greater still.

And when you experience love like that, the welling up within your soul is to love in response. So let me tell you like this, when Jesus goes to the cross, he goes to the cross to put your sins behind you that you can experience his love in this moment.

So that he becomes the propitiation for our sins, the expense of our sin, and the love of our God met in one word: forgiveness. This is what Jesus said on the cross, right? “Father, forgive them.” And to be forgiven, someone must bear the costs. The forgiver bears the cost in order to forgive. And that’s what this word propitiation demonstrates. It’s satisfying the wrath of God. He’s bearing the consequences of the cost of your sin so that you can be free in him and free to experience his love. Forgiveness allows us to walk in the newness and experience the purpose for which we were created. Forgiveness is a hallmark of our faith. That’s what they say in First Corinthians five right? “You become a new creation. Behold, all things are passed away. All things have become new.”

So while Paul describes himself as a sinner, yes, yes, but he’s also new in Jesus because God’s love on the cross has covered his sin. When the Lord looks at you, God sees the goodness of Christ over you. So it tells us in First Corinthians five 21, “He became sin who knew no sin that you might become the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus takes on your sin so that when God looks at you, He sees the perfection of Jesus. At the cross, we see the greatness of our sin, but we see an even greater love in our God.

Most of us are familiar with this story. So let me ask you this then. In the application of it, how do you know if you grasp God’s forgiveness in your life? How do you really know that you can make this application? Huh? I think when Luke was recording this for us because he’s recording this as more than just words to think or to intellectually know, but rather he’s recording this as a life in which we now emulate and live because if Jesus is our savior and king and we pursue him, then we live this type of life. How? How do we know that we really grasped God’s forgiveness in our life? Ready for it? And how will you forgive others? You grasped the forgiveness of God in your own life and you demonstrate how well you forgive others.

Let me show you because in First John Chapter four verse 11 John goes on from here to make the application of God’s love. How then should we respond? Verse 11 he starts to tell you, it says it’s beloved meaning he’s now identifying you as the love because God has loved you. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”. No one has seen God at any time. Okay, that’s important. No one has seen God. First Timothy chapter six verse 16, John chapter one [inaudible 00:25:18], chapter two verse nine, no one has seen God, right? But then he goes on and says this, “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us.” No one has seen God at any time. But look at this. You’re made in the image of God.

And when you gather together to worship God and in worship God, you choose to love one another, you’re emulating the goodness of this God to each other. God’s love becomes tangible to us because we’re made in his image and in his image we desire to love or we should love because God is love. If God is love, his people love, right? If you love, as God calls you to love, you love the things that God loves, and what God loves is people. And so when we talk about modeling this in our lives, we love. This is the way we reflect it.

Now, let me tell you this, in case you caught it, you may have already identified this. This says nothing about forgiveness. Why in the world am I telling you that the way that you recognize in your life, if you grasp God’s forgiveness in your life is by how you forgive others? When First John in replying to the cross isn’t even talking about forgiveness? How in the world can I make that leap?

That’s a good question. I’m glad you asked. Let me explain. You’re never going to love the way God calls you to love when you walk in unforgiveness. It’s impossible. The reason is because forgiveness is about the past and love is about the present, and when you don’t forgive, you become trapped in the past unable to live in the present. When you think about your relationship with God, Jesus goes to the cross, died for your sins. Why? To put your sins in the past. For what reason? So you can live and love and the relationship with him in the present.

Forgiveness becomes the basis for you to experience the love that He desires to demonstrate in your life. God is love and God can never be any different than love. God is love, but in your life, you never connect to that love the way you were designed to until you walk in the newness of forgiveness in Jesus. And in the newness of that forgiveness, then you receive that love for which he wants to demonstrate and lavish in your life in a very personal way, all of eternity. And so when John is saying in First John chapter nine and he calls us to then live this way, when we are to love one another, we can never love the way God calls us to love if we live in unforgiveness, because unforgiveness traps us in the past. It never allows us to live the way God calls us to live in the present.

God’s call on our life is to love. Unforgiveness makes you a prisoner of the past. But forgiveness let’s me walk in His love in the present and to enjoy that love with each other as we forgive. So how do you know you grasp the forgiveness of God in your life? As it’s modeled in this first, by the way, that you forgive one another because in that forgiveness opens the door to begin to experience the love for what you were created. Listen guys, I don’t want to pretend like the things you’ve gone through in your life haven’t been hard. I know things are. But I do want to tell you that what Jesus has done for you is far more important than to allow unforgiveness to trap you in the past.

What God calls you to in Him is far greater than anything that you can conjure up in your own vengeance by holding on to unforgiveness. Forgiveness I should say, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to just sweep things under the rug. In fact, I think that can be unhealthy. I mean talking and talking about issues that create division become important, but at the end of the day, you got to forgive in order to experience love which you were created to in Christ. And it doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, nor does it mean you have to forget. I think in my own family’s life, we had a few family members that struggle with addiction and I remember as a young person in the high school, they would come live with us for a little bit and then move away. And that happened a few times, where were they stole some things, right?

Now we forgive them. And I remember we invited them back into our home and they stayed with us again. But we didn’t forget because we’re not stupid. So because we love them, what did we do the next time they came in her home? We hit our valuables. We forgave them, but we got rid of the things that were attempting them, because we love them.

So forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, but for forgiveness for us gives us the opportunity to walk in the newness for which we are created in Jesus. New Creation. Old things pass away. Behold all things become new. Love is about living in the moment for what God has called you to do. If you hold onto this past, you can never step into where Jesus wants to lead your life. And I know it was hard or it can be hard. In fact, just to highlight that point I want to point you to another Apostle or a disciple of Jesus, Peter.

First Peter chapter two, Peter is reflected on the cross as well and what this means for believers, but when he’s reflecting on it, he’s reflecting on it in the life of Christians that are being persecuted. In fact, if you go read just a couple of verses before this, you see Christians go in during a hardship and then Peter has to respond to this moment. Okay, now how do we live in our lives because of the Cross of Christ? He says this: “For you have been called for this purpose since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps.”

What’s that example? He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth. And while being reviled, he did not revile in return while suffering. He uttered no threats, but he kept entrusting himself to the one who judges righteously and he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness for by his wounds you have been healed. What he’s saying in verse 22 is, “Look guys, anyone that had been a justified to bring down wrath at any moment, it was Jesus. He’s perfect. We’re not, right? If Jesus wanted to call down legions of angels to rescue him from the cross and just destroy and obliterate this earth, Jesus could have done it.” But even in his perfection, what did he do? Being reviled, he didn’t revile in return. In fact, what he did do is he entrusted himself to him who judges righteously.

When we walk in forgiveness, what we’re confessing without maybe saying it, is “What I want to do is greater than what Jesus has already done, right? I want to hold him vengeance. I wish ill will on somebody.” How do you know you’ve really forgiven somebody? I would say it’s like this. When your first thoughts of them aren’t to look for their demise, but rather God’s will to be made known. If you’re hoping just for their downfall and that’s all you just look for and you’re just stuck in that, you haven’t let go of it.

There are consequences to sin and no, not saying if things had been wrong to you. I mean we have police and things like that for a reason, right? But what God wants to do is greater than anything you can do holding onto it yourself. In fact, it keeps you from where God’s called you and so he says with Jesus he entrusts himself to one who judges rightly is. It becomes a faith test for us. Forgiveness guys, isn’t an emotion. It’s a step of faith. I know when it comes to forgiving, sometimes it’s hard. Someone’s it wraps, conjures up all these feelings for us, but there’s also a step of faith to saying, “Look, God. I’m going to trust that you love me and what you’ve got is better, and where are you calling me to be right now is not stuck in this. But with you and far greater things that you can do in my life by living in the love which you’ve called me to then for me to stay in my own personal vengeance here in the past.”

God takes care of the past so that we can walk with him in the future. Here’s the irony: So many times in our lives, we often look for grace for ourselves, but we demand justice for others. And how hypocritical of me it is to seek forgiveness but demand justice on others.

Peter wants us to see this rescue mission of Jesus, and not only this rescue mission of Jesus, but our calling to join him on this rescue mission. If we can’t forgive, how could we ever participate? And you think about Jesus and his ability to forgive that allowed him to come on this rescue mission for your soul. Because of his desire to forgive, he was able to pursue your soul while you you were yet a sinner. And now in emulating that, he calls you on the same rescue mission in this world that opposes this kingdom of light. If you don’t fight for the people in this world, who will?

In praying for his enemies, father forgive them, they know what they do, not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong us, but he also taught us never to regard any as beyond the reach of His grace.

The truth is we all struggle to forgive. So a passage like First John four and First Peter two exists, but the cross at the same time shows us that love and forgiveness, it involves sacrifice for the forgiver, right? In First Peter 2:24 beginning of the verse, “He bore our sins on the cross, but it also provides the power to bring newness of life.” First Peter chapter two verse 20 at the end, “By his wounds, we are healed.”

Forgiveness always costs the forgiver. But forgiveness is the very source that brings newness of life and allows us to walk in love both, both for the forgiver and the forgiven. As forgiver, it lets you release being trapped and controlling the past. As forgiven, it let’s you walk away from the identity of the past and the newness of life. For us to live this out, it’s a struggle.

One of the artists that I enjoy in life is a man by the name of Rembrandt. One of the reasons I enjoy him is because he’s about the only Protestant painter that you can find in church history. But Rembrandt was alive in the 17th century. And I think we should all in a way, model life like Rembrandt and what I don’t mean as buy a beret and look like that, but what I do mean is what his heart pursued in his paintings. Rembrandt in the 17th century started to paint biblical pictures in a unique way. Up until this time of Rembrandt, people would take pictures of Jesus, pictures of Mary, and sort of put these like halo things around any biblical event. And Rembrandt started to just painting things more realistic. But the unique thing about Rembrandt is that he also made it personal.

The cross is the greatest battle in history. And you demonstrate your faith in the cross by how you forgive and you become a forgiving soul when this cross becomes personal to your own life, right? And I think Rembrandt knew that, which is why when Rembrandt painted what’s called the Raising of the Cross, Rembrandt at the bottom of Jesus’s feet included himself in the painting. Rembrandt in these moments, saw the depth of his sin, but at the same time he also saw the greater love of his God. Father forgive. Rembrandt sees Jesus taking care of his past so that he can walk with Jesus and his love in the present. When we see the depth of what God has done for our soul, who are we not to join him on that rescue mission? Who are we to live trapped in the past? What God calls you to in this moment in history is far greater than to let the past have control of you. His love has the power to change. Starting with your heart.

If what? We simply trust. You’re ready for God to move when your heart is forgiven and your heart is forgiving. How well do you know if you understand this phrase, Jesus utters, Father, forgive them?” It’s seen in how well you forgive others. Not just saying it, but demonstrating it. Does your forgiveness have action? Does it desire your vengeance or God’s hand of grace?