Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. The Romans always beat their prisoners in a very cruel way. The law of the Jews allowed them to beat men no more than 39 times. The Roman law had no limit. When their prisoners fell down, the Romans picked them up. Then they began to beat them again. Sometimes they killed their prisoners like this. The prisoners’ backs became like a field that a farmer has ploughed. Pieces of skin hung from their backs. The Romans had decided that Jesus must die. Now they beat him, by Roman law. Jesus was publicly scourged, or beaten, with a leather-tonged whip before his crucifixion. Tiny pieces of iron and bone chips were tied to the ends of each leather thong, causing deep cuts and painful bruises. He was mocked, struck in the head with a staff and spit on. A prickly crown of thorns was placed on his head and he was stripped naked. Stake-like nails were driven through his wrists and ankles, fastening him to the cross where he was crucified between two convicted criminals.
What must Jesus have looked like by this time? They had beaten him with hands and whips. They had pulled his beard. They had forced the sharp crown on his head. People have painted pictures of Jesus on the cross. None of them can really show us what Jesus was like by that time. Isaiah writes a simple vivid description of Jesus appearance.
Isaiah 52:1414 Just as there were many who were appalled at him-his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness
Are you formulating a mental picture in your mind yet?
What was Jesus response to such cruel treatment? This is the situation in which our Savior cried out to His father, “Father Forgive them” Luke 23:34. Jesus, as only our Savior could so perfectly do; prayed to His Father (our Father) to provide the forgiveness His death grants us. He chose to forgive. Holy. Completely.
Have you been hurt? Do you struggle with memories of a painful childhood? What trials and tribulations have you faced? What grudges do you harbor? Do you struggle with unforgiveness?
There are probably moments in our own lives that give us glimpses into what Christ was feeling. Betrayal.Abandonment. Unfair treatment. Unfair Judgement. I would venture a guess that our trials pale in comparison to what Christ went through and yet Jesus chose to forgive.
How Can We Do Any Less?
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” God tells us flat-out, forgive as the Lord forgave you. God commands us to forgive. Forgiveness is not an option that we can choose to opt out of. Whether the sin is big or the sin is small according to our earthly measurement system, sin all looks the same to God. Sin is sin is sin. We are all sinners before God. If God forgives you for your sin and Jesus forgave the Romans, Peter, and all of the rest involved in His cruel crucifixion, how then can you withhold forgiveness? I would be so bold as to say that when you withhold forgiveness that you are in effect saying you are better than God.
There is a common misconception about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not say what the person did was ok. Forgiveness does not mean that what has happened to you is ok, because it is not ok. (Do not confuse forgiveness with permission to remain in an unsafe environment. If you are in an unsafe situation please remove yourself and go to a safe place.) But other than you have been wronged, forgiveness has nothing to do with what happened to you or who did it. Forgiveness is not about them. Forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is about finding freedom in letting go. I have heard some say that unforgiveness is like walking around drinking poison hoping the other person would die.
Are you drinking bitter poison?
Here is the thing…. walking around spewing hatred to anyone and everyone who will listen hurts no one but yourself and it makes you look like a fool. Why are you spending your energy and precious time focusing on your betrayal? abandonment, unfair judgement? It is time to take back your life. It is time to begin living again.
It is Time to Forgive
How do I that? Especially if my heart is not in it? It starts with a simple act of obedience of God’s command. Being willing to think about forgiving is a start. Pray, asking God to give you the heart forgiveness.
Here is my challenge:
- I challenge you to practice forgiving out loud in private. (Ex: Jane I forgive you)
- Be specific in what you are forgiving. (Ex: Jane, I forgive you for making me feel like I did not have any worth when you made fun of me at lunch)
- Remember Jesus example on the cross. He could have forgave in His head but He chose to speak forgiveness out loud.
- Forgive yourself
- Whatever your trespass God has forgiven you. And if God has forgiven you what right do you have to withhold forgiveness from yourself?
- Breath in deeply God’s forgiveness for you.
- Don’t be stubborn let God heal you.
- Forgive the memories of the past that threaten to over-take your present. Choose life and forgive.
You will be given many opportunities to practice forgiveness. One-time forgiveness is not enough. Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time thing. There is no limit to the number of time you are to forgive just as there is no limit as to how many time Jesus will forgive you.
Forgiveness will shed pounds off your life. Forgiveness gives you permission to put down the heavy burden of bitterness and start living again. People will see it in your face you will notice it in your spirit. “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. Ephesians 4:31-32
Forgive… Walk in Freedom…. Forgive