THIS EASTER, LET US REFLECT ON JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION – FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 KJV

The word crucifixion comes from the latin “crucifixio,” or “crucifixus,” meaning “fixed to a cross.” Crucifixion was an ancient method of execution in which the victim’s hands and feet were bound and nailed to a cross. It was one of the most horribly painful and disgraceful methods of capitol punishment. Crucifixion was not only one of the most disgraceful forms of death, it was one of the most dreaded methods of execution in the ancient world. This type of capitol punishment was primarily reserved for traitors, captive armies, slaves and the worst of criminals. The Roman form of crucifixion was not employed in the Old Testament by the Jewish people, as they saw crucifixion as one of the most horrible, cursed forms of death. The Bible says, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day;  (  for he that is hanged is accursed of God; ) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:23 KJV  In New Testament Bible times, the Romans used this tortuous method of execution as a means of exerting authority and control over the population. Before nailing the victim to the cross, a mixture of vinegar, gall, and myrrh was usually offered to reduce some of the victim’s suffering. Wooden planks were usually fastened to the vertical stake as a footrest or seat, allowing the victim to rest his weight and lift himself for a breath, thus prolonging suffering and delaying death for up to three days. Unsupported, the victim would hang entirely from nail-pierced wrists, severely restricting breathing and circulation. This excruciating ordeal would lead to exhaustion, suffocation, brain death and heart failure. At times, mercy was shown by breaking the victim’s legs, causing death to come quickly. As a deterrent to crime, crucifixions were carried out in highly public places with the criminal charges posted on the cross above the victim’s head. Jesus’ final hours on the cross lasted from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a period of about six hours. This timeline takes a detailed, hour-by-hour look at the events as recorded in Scripture, including the events just before and immediately after the crucifixion. Why did Jesus have to die? Does Christianity only make sense by God deciding that Jesus had to be crucified? Before answering these questions, it is important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. The Bible says, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31 KJV  Though God is all merciful, all-powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just. He was wrongly accused, unjustly tried, tortured, and executed, in spite of being innocent. What was His reaction to this cruelty as he hung dying on the cross? The Bible says, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 KJV  Paul, the Bible’s greatest missionary, took up Jesus’ message, preaching a gospel of love. Love and cruelty are incompatible. Paul simplified the intent of all God’s commands as it says in the Bible, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Galatians 5:14 KJV  It is not uncommon for Christians to have questions about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we’ve been injured. We don’t naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness when we’ve been wronged. I believe forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and his command to forgive. The Bible says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13 KJV How do we forgive when we don’t feel like it? We forgive by faith out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete. I believe God honors our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please him when we choose to forgive.  The Bible says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 KJV  We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us. Most times, however, forgiveness is a slow process. It says in the Bible, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 KJV  This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It’s not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may need a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart. I have found that prayer is one of the best ways to break down the wall of unforgiveness in my heart. When I begin to pray for the person who has wronged me, God gives me new eyes to see and a new heart to care for that person. We can pray for God to deal with the injustices, for God to judge the person’s life, and then we can leave that prayer at the altar. We no longer have to carry the anger. Although it is normal for us to feel anger toward sin and injustice, it is not our job to judge the other person in their sin. The Bible says. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Luke 6:37 KJV  The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from Scripture, if we don’t forgive, neither will we be forgiven as it says in the Bible, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 KJV  When we forgive out of obedience to the Lord, it is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do this forgiving, we discover the command is in place for our own good, and we receive the reward of our forgiveness, freedom. Realizing that we are sinners and placing our trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us that we can immediately know where we will spend our eternal tomorrows. So don’t wait another day ! Open up your heart to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger

 

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