It’s Easter weekend, and although I love all the Easter Reese’s candy and Cadbury eggs that are around during this time (seriously, I look forward to it ever year), there is a theme that is lulling around in by brain as I reflect on what this weekend means. Even though most of the focus of this weekend is directed toward Sunday, the part where Jesus raises from the dead and defeats the grave, I have been reflecting on what exactly went down in history on Good Friday. And the theme that is resonating the most in my heart this year on Easter weekend is FORGIVENESS.
Most of us are familiar with the gruesome, cruel, and harsh process of a crucifixion. If you aren’t, I encourage you research it. It’s tough to read and think about exactly what was being done to our Jesus, the Jesus who was blameless and Holy. The Jesus that performed miracles, healed the blind, and raised the dead. He was forced to wear a crown of thorns. He was brutally whipped. He was mocked. He was nailed to a tree. His side was pierced. And he was left there to die a gruesome death, not deserving any of it. But as I reflect this year on his crucifixion, what hits me the hardest is the line that came from his mouth as he hung there, moments away from his death. These words are found in Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Wow. As Jesus hung there on the cross, having been betrayed, mocked, beaten, crucified, and left to die, he asks God to forgive those crucifying him. Wait whattttt? This shows the character of Jesus and how much he really loves his people. And he does this for us again and again, every single day. We betray him, we put other things/people before him, we live in sin, and he constantly forgives us every day. His mercies are new every morning.
Reflecting on this one line so deeply this year has caused me to reflect on my inability to forgive. There are a few situations that have caused a hardening of my heart towards some and a bitterness that has made forgiving very difficult. I have pushed it off and pushed it off, not finding the place in my heart to forgive. Because they don’t deserve it! But wait, if Jesus can hang on a cross and in THAT VERY MOMENT forgive the ones BRUTALLY KILLING HIM, how can I not forgive anyone and everyone, no matter what harm they have caused me? No matter what pain they have caused me? How can I expect the Lord to forgive me and wipe my slate clean every day when I can’t do the same for those around me?
I challenge you today to dig deeper into your heart. Ask yourself who needs your forgiveness. Ask yourself who the person is that deserves it the least, and find it in your heart to forgive them. To release them from that place of bitterness. Think about who Jesus forgave, and maybe that will give you a better perspective. I’ve had to do that recently, and it was the most freeing thing I have done in a while. Forgiveness, even when they don’t deserve it, is the beginning of walking in freedom. Ephesians 4:31-32 says:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, I encourage you to do some reflecting on what exactly Jesus went through, who he forgave for it, and what his resurrection means for your life. He is risen – spread the good news! And Happy Easter!