페이지 정보작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:48 조회978회 댓글0건
* In preparing for these series sermons, I just like to acknowledge that I was very much indebted to Erwin W. Lutzer's Cries from the Cross(Chicago: Moody Press, 2002).
Lent is the time to think about the cross. It is a time to love the cross. It is a time to bear the cross and to follow in the steps of our Lord. The cross is not an ornament for display; it is a tool that God used to save mankind.
During the time of Christ, the Roman Empire executed around 30,000 convicts per year by crucifixion. Those who were sentenced to death by crucifixion usually were political dissidents who conspired against the government and other prisoners who committed brutal crimes. On this disgraceful and inhumane device of death called cross, the Son of God was hung to die. Little lamb Jesus, who had not even a bit of flaw, was crucified. Why?
It was to have God save us from sin and death. Because man could not cleanse himself of his own sins, God levied all his sins onto His own Son. God had His own Son burden all the responsibilities and punishment for the sins that man has committed.
Isaiah 53: 4-5 tells us, “Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
It is true. Because Jesus suffered, bled, and died on the cross, we are alive today. The cross and the crucifixion is a watershed event that made the only Son of God, Jesus, the sacrificial lamb for all of the world’s sins (John 1: 29). Therefore, without the cross, we cannot know about God’s love. We cannot measure the depth of God’s love without the cross.
Jesus left seven words as He was dying on the cross. These seven words are called ‘the Seven Words from the Cross.’ We cannot be sure whether Jesus spoke additional words, but the Gospels only record the seven words. These seven words are not ordinary dying wish or testament. They are blood-soaked cries from Jesus as He breathed His last breath on the torturous cross.
During the six weeks of Lent and Good Friday, I plan to talk about each of the seven words from the cross. I hope that through the messages conveyed by these seven words, all of us can experience the suffering that human Jesus went through on the cross. I hope that each of us can understand the great love of Jesus and His desire to save us all.
Today, we will first concentrate on cries of Jesus as recorded in Luke 23: 34. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’” Jesus is praying for His enemies, who are crucifying Him on the cross.
It is in human nature to like those who like us and hate those who hate us. Our natural human emotions lead us to abhor and despise those who try to harm or kill us. If someone was trying to crucify us on the cross when we did nothing wrong, we would surely curse that person. Our innards will burn with a desire for retribution.
But Jesus is praying for the forgiveness of those that are cursing and trying to kill Him. Such love and mercy transformed one of the convicts who were being crucified alongside Jesus. “Praying for the forgiveness of those who are trying to kill Him! No One but a Son of God could be so loving and merciful!” One word of mercy from Jesus completely overturned a previously decrepit heart of a brutal armed robber.
The cries from Jesus, begging for the forgiveness of those who are killing Him, raises four questions for us to think about.
First, what is forgiveness?
According to Luke 23, three types, or groups of people were objects of forgiveness. The first group was ordinary masses, to include Jewish leaders. The second group was Roman soldiers, who carried out the act of torturing and crucifying Christ. The third was the one convict, who was also crucified on a cross next to Jesus, who ridicules Jesus to the end.
When Jesus asks God to forgive all of these people, what kind of forgiveness is Jesus asking for?
Jesus teaches us the following in Matthew 5: 23-24. “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” What does He mean by this? While offering worship service to God, should you do something that angers your brothers, then reconcile with them first. Only after reconciliation will your worship and prayers be heard in heaven.
The concept of forgiveness in the Bible is reconciliation righting the relation that has gone sour. The most common Hebrew word that translates into forgiveness is ‘aphiami.’ ‘Aphiami’ means ‘wipe away,’ ‘remove’ or ‘release.’ In a legal sense, it means releasing, or absolving, the debtor from his obligation to pay the debt. In a sense, the reconciliation between the lender and the borrower is construed as forgiveness.
Then holy forgiveness is not forgetting the pain. Forgiving does not equate to forgetting the pain and suffering that you have received from someone else. Forgiveness is giving up, or not carrying out the retribution against the people who made us suffer. The people who cause us great pain and suffering surely deserve retribution in kind; but forgiveness is not carrying out this retribution.
What did Stephen, the first martyr of Christian church, do when he was stoned to death? Take a look at Acts 7: 59-60. “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
The people who stoned Stephan to death surely deserve similar fate. But Steward Stephan prays to not have this sin charged to those who stoned him. This is a model example of Biblical forgiveness.
When Jesus prays for those who have crucified Him to be forgiven, He is asking God to not charge them with the punishment that they deserve. It is a true spirit of love, willing to forgive those people who are killing Him. This is true forgiveness.
Second, should those who do not deserve forgiveness also be forgiven?
Should we forgive the culprit of the Taegu subway tragedy, Daehan Kim? Should we forgive Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist who is responsible for the death of thousands of people? Should we forgive people like Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in Oklahoma City?
Put your hand over your hearts and ask yourselves a question. Can you forgive those people who have driven nails of pain and suffering through your hearts? You tremble at the thought of the pain and loss they caused you; can you forgive them despite this strong feeling? Can you forgive them, when they are even lower than wild animals? In your eyes, they do not deserve even an ounce of sympathy or mercy yet, can you forgive them, nonetheless?
Think of Jesus. Do those people, on whose behalf Jesus is asking forgiveness, deserve such mercy? Absolutely not. Those people do not deserve an ounce of mercy the ruthless animals that crucified and killed the Son of God. They are deserving of God’s most harsh judgment and punishment.
But Jesus is asking for their forgiveness. If the people who crucified the Son of God on a cross can be forgiven, then every person in this world can be forgiven, regardless of their acts. When we, as humans, cannot forgive, God can forgive. The cries of Jesus on the cross are a testament to this fact.
Do not be quick to pass judgment and claim whether a person deserves forgiveness or not. Only God can determine whether one is worthy of forgiveness. Believe in the fact that most decrepit and vile murderer in the world can be forgiven by God. Remember that we must always forgive.
Third, should those who do not seek forgiveness be forgiven?
Those who transgressed against us do not seek forgiveness. They have no remorse for their wrong doings. Instead, they shamelessly look down upon us and deride us. They humiliate us. They seek opportunities to hurt us even more. Should we forgive them?
Jesus teaches us that we need to forgive these kinds of people. Do those people, who Jesus sought forgiveness on their behalf, seek forgiveness themselves? Not at all. They were brazenly crazed with the act of crucifying Christ, and nothing else. Despite all this, Jesus still sought their forgiveness.
Jesus said in Matthew 5: 44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
When we do so, we find peace and freedom in our hearts. There is tranquillity. When we forgive, the responsibility of retribution falls into the hand of God. Roman 12: 19 tells us, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Therefore, we must forgive those who do not seek forgiveness. That is the only way to show God that we trust in His fairness and justness.
Fourth, when we seek forgiveness for the undeserving, will they still be forgiven?
What happened to those people whom Jesus sought forgiveness on their behalf? Did they ultimately receive God’s forgiveness? Let’s pretend that we sought forgiveness, like Jesus did, for those who we think don’t deserve forgiveness. Will they be forgiven? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’
Those who Jesus sought forgiveness for were eventually forgiven. According to chapters 2 through 4 of Acts, several thousand Jews returned to Jesus after listening to the Disciples’ sermons. Among them were those who conspired to crucify Jesus.
That is not all. The Roman soldiers who carried out the task of crucifixion acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God. Take a look at Matthew 27: 54. “Now when the centurion and those whit him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” Even the executors believed in Jesus.
All this shows that Jesus’ prayers have been answered. Of course, many people, without seeing the light, died in the midst of their sins. But many other people learned, repented, and returned to Jesus. They were eventually forgiven.
That person may seem like a person not worth praying for that is, he or she may seem like one who will never be forgiven. But the Bible tells us that even this type of person can be forgiven. All is possible with God. Atrocious murders like Hitler can be forgiven if he repents and returns to God.
There is no sin that God cannot forgive. Leave everything up to God and forgive others. Then our Lord will take care of the rest.
The first cries of Jesus, when He was crucified teach us to forgive. We cannot be saved without forgiveness. We cannot go in front of God without forgiving somebody.
Did you hate someone today? Then forgive them. Are you pained because you want to exact revenge on someone else? Then forgive. Then true freedom will find your heart. A strange peace will descend upon your heart.
A grandfather and a grandson were talking about the 9-11 terror attack. The grandson spoke. “Grandpa, it seems like two wolves are fighting within my heart. One is full of anger, seeking only revenge. The other wants to love and forgive. Who will win?” The grandfather answered quietly, “The one you feed.”
When hate and love, revenge and forgiveness fight in your heart, which will you feed? Learn from Jesus. “Father, forgive us.” Amen.
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