Faithlife Sermons

Father Forgive Them

Love Ran Red  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Jesus died for our forgiveness, and expects us to forgive others in response.

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We are starting a new series today as we enter the Lenten season. You may know, or you may not, that Lent is a season of the church that marks a time of preparation for Easter. It’s a time to prepare us. Not start saving eggs or getting the candy for the baskets. Not that kind of preparation, but soul preparation. Normally in the church we focus on spiritual training during Lent. It’s as though we recognize that most of the time we don’t pay much attention to our spiritual health, but there is something different about Easter, it draws it out of us.
This lent is no different. Usually we use devotionals. We have asked people to write short essays as reflections on a scripture verse. This year, I’d like us to stick to the scriptures and allow God to write the devotional on us. Here is what I’d ask you to consider this year during Lent. Set an alarm on your phone where you can set aside 10 minutes a day. During that 10 minutes, you read along with the rest of us a short passage, maybe a chapter, maybe less from the gospel of Matthew. As you read, listen to what God may say to you. When you finish, reflect on three questions.
1. What does this tell me about God?
2. What does this tell me about humans?
3. What does this tell me about my relationship with God?
Close in prayer and get back to the rest of your life. We made a journal for you to keep track of daily prayers and to keep track of how God might teach you through time with him in the scriptures. If you prefer a devotional, NT Wright wrote one that I would highly recommend Lent for Everyone through Matthew. It is free if you use the youversion bible app and sign up for it. I’ll send a link out this week if you would like to use it as well. But more importantly than reading what God said to NT Wright, is what is God saying to you.
I pray you will invest yourself and your time in growing this Lent. I can tell you that for me, it was during lent in 1999 that my faith grew more than it ever had before. That year, every day during Lent I fasted my lunch. I would work until I really got hungry. Until it was distracting me, usually mid afternoon, then I would take my bible and go find a place, usually at the dock, instead of eating a sandwich, I would spend my time reading the bible and praying. I can tell you that I have never been as close to God as I was that spring. I didn’t do it perfectly, some days I wasn’t able to get out, but I put it on my calendar. I planned for it to happen. As the lady said in that movie War Room…miracles don’t happen by accident. Get close to God and he will be close to you.
I could go on all day, but I don’t have the time really. I need to get into today’s text. WE are going to be looking at the last 7 words, the last 7 statements, of Jesus from the cross. I’ve titled this series “Love Ran Red” because that’s exactly what was happening on the cross. God’s love for us was displayed on the cross.
If you ever start thinking that you aren’t worth much. People and life seem to be going against you, if it seems you can’t get a break, at every corner you find setbacks, think of the cross. On the cross, God didn’t just tell you how important you are to him, he put it on full display. His love for you ran red on the cross.
As his love for you was being poured out, Jesus said some very powerful things. Keep in mind that Jesus’s crucifixion was a travesty. He had not done anything wrong but love people, heal them, teach truth to them. His death was just wrong, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he acted and the things he said.
Listen to these first words from the cross.
Luke 23:33–34 NIV84
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
None of us have experienced anything to this level. But we can relate a bit I think.
Today’s message is for those of us who have been wronged. Is that you? Have you ever been wronged? Have you ever been unjustifiably blamed or punished? We know what this is like to some degree right? WE have all experienced this to some degree right? How did you respond? I’ve grouped the ways we might respond into two camps:

Two options when we are wronged:

first,

The ‘before Christ’ response

This is how we naturally respond. Instinctively, i respond to being wronged in predictable ways. I take things personally, I want to get even.

You OWE me and justice is MINE .

That’s not new to us, that’s the way people have been behaving since the beginning of time. That’s where the phrase an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth came from.
Matthew 5:38 NIV84
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
This has been the standard for centuries. Then Jesus came along and changed the rules. For centuries we had to be restricted to just an eye for an eye. Cause honestly if someone takes out my eye, something in me wants to take both of theirs. If i’m real honest, their nose too, sometimes their whole face. But where does that get us? Where does revenge ever get us?
Jesus knew the answer was NO WHERE. That’s why he changed the rules.

The ‘after Christ’ response

Jesus’s words from the cross were forgiveness, not revenge.

God FORGAVE me so I’ll forgive YOU .

Matthew 6:12 NIV84
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We shouldn't be surprised that Jesus would forgive his persecutors from the cross. But we are. Who does that?
Jesus would say we all can.
Before we get to understanding how forgiveness fits into tour life. Let’s make sure we are talking about the same forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT:

Forgetting what was done. It would be impossible to forget some things that have been done to you right? We don’t get to control what we forget.
It doesn’t mean Removing consequences. There are consequences for behavior that are as sure as gravity. I can’t expect to live on bourbon and not have liver problems, I can’t expect to take advantage of people and there not be fall out.
One of the biggest fall outs is a lack of trust. Forgiving is not the same as Trusting. If you’ve been hurt by someone repeatedly, you should be leery. You should put protections around you.
That’s what forgiveness is not, but what is forgiveness.

Forgiveness IS:

Refusing to seek MY revenge. Choosing not to pursue revenge.
Refusing to be consumed by MY past. When thoughts of my past come up, instead of dwelling on them and how they mistreated me, I forgive it and move on, think of something else…maybe Jesus and what he did for me.
That’s what forgiveness is, extending to others what Jesus has given to me. I didn’t deserve Jesus to die for my sins, but he did. People don’t deserve your forgiveness any more than you deserve Jesus’s.
But our not it is exactly the point of forgiveness. We don’t get what we deserve when we are wronged, we can’t always make things RIGHT when we wrong some one else. This is the point of the parable of the forgiven servant that was read earlier.

Lesson from the Forgiven Servant

We want to live in a clean world where all the columns balance. but that’s not the way the world seems to work things out. The fact of the matter is we can’t always be repaid. There is no way for some people to make you whole. Think of the people who lose loved ones in medical accidents. They take Drs to court, to fix the system. They are awarded huge settlements, but are they made whole? Sure they can punish, but there is usually no way for people to make up for the pain, the stress, the loss of confidence, that their wrongdoing caused.
Thats the way a debt works.

The debtor can’t always REPAY you.

Matthew 18:24–25a NIV84
As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
You’ve heard the phrase, you can’t get blood from a turnip? The debtor owes a debt that they cannot pay. Sometimes they would want make things right, but the reality is there is just no way for them to make us whole. The took advantage of their position, now they are powerless in effect. In a strange twist, it is the one who has been offended that has the power to forgive, they are the ones who are in a position to chose mercy.

The offended can always show MERCY .

Matthew 18:27 NIV84
The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
The debtor can’t say I don’t owe you. It’s not up to them to decide. But the creditor, the one who is owed, can cancel the debt. That’s a choice, a decision. Forgiveness is just that, a choice. It isn’t always easy, in fact, sometimes it takes time to live into forgiveness. But it starts the moment we decide to forgive. You won’t do it as perfectly as Jesus did on the cross, but you can take a step toward mercy.
Either way, whether we forgive or not, there is something next. But what comes next can be dramatically different, depending on whether we are able to forgive or not because both forgiveness and unforgiveness have consequences.

FORGIVENESS and UNFORGIVENESS have consequences

Matthew 18:32–35 NIV84
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Pursuing forgiveness leads to freedom, but remaining in unforgiveness, bondage. IT’s not metaphorical bondage. It’s real. We know this right. We have experienced the bondage of unforgiveness? You were wronged, mistreated, taken advantage of, maybe not crucified, but you know what it is to suffer because of something done to you. Maybe it was years ago, maybe it was last week. All of us do. We all know what it was like to be in bondage to the past. Forgiveness releases that debt. Forgiveness breaks the chains.
I know, I hear you. Yea but, you don’t know what happened to me. You are right. I don’t know. I’ve heard stories of people who had horrible things done to them by people they should have ben able to trust. I’ve heard of aweful things that total strangers have done to people. Things that most of us can only imagine or think happen in movies or at lest some place else. That may be you. You have heard me say, we should forgive, but how.
How are you supposed to forgive the unforgivable?
WE remember the cross.
Remembering how much we are loved. How much Love Ran Red on the cross for you.
The offense we experienced may be huge, but Jesus’s forgiveness is greater.

Jesus’ FORGIVENESS is greater than any OFFENSE .

Matthew 18:33 NIV84
Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
I’m not saying what you have experienced isn’t important, all the parable is saying is that Jesus has forgiven more. His forgiveness is greater than any wrong we have experienced. Reflect on the size of God’s love for you for just a moment. Has anyone ever died for you?
Knowing, being absolutely sure.
I know it sounds too simple to experience freedom from the bondage of being offended. But it is truth. We are set free when we decide to forgive. We may need time to heal but forgiveness starts with a decision. In choosing to live a lifestyle of forgiveness rather than getting even we will find that we find freedom.
Matthew 6:14–15 NIV84
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
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