"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
In this short prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ prayed from the cross, we can learn a great deal about forgiveness.
First, we can have confidence that our sins can be completely forgiven. There are people who say, "I don't feel forgiven. I have confessed and repented but I just don't feel forgiven." Feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness has everything to do with the promise of God, who said that when you come to Him and confess, He'll forgive you, and that settles it!
Second, this prayer of forgiveness assures us that the vicious cycle of hatred and sin ends on the cross. When Jesus was suspended between heaven and earth, He bore our sin - all hatred, viciousness, and anger. If we want to know where our anger, hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness end, we should look at the cross.
The third thing about this prayer from the cross is that our Lord practiced what He preached. Jesus did not ask God for vengeance on the people who sentenced Him to death; instead He prayed on their behalf. After teaching forgiveness, had the Lord Jesus Christ cursed those who crucified Him, all of what He taught would have been swept away into the dustbin of history.
Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Your feelings and your emotions inevitably will follow, but you have to make a willful decision to forgive. When you do, the power of the cross will set you free.
What Jesus did on the cross was the beginning of what He has been doing for two thousand years, for He has continuously forgiven everyone who would come to Him and ask for forgiveness. If Jesus could forgive those who hurt Him, He can forgive us of our sins - and give us the strength to forgive others.
Prayer: God, thank You for teaching us so much about forgiveness through Your example on the cross. Thank You for forgiving me. Help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).
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