The crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ – Forgiveness & Redemption. The whole of Christianity hinges on those two events, and what they made possible. Yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week, so what better time to talk about how those two words – Forgiveness & Redemption – have impacted our little family in this past year?
Romans 5:8-11 – But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV) – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.
Last week I told you about our decision to tell our children about their father’s affairs. I promised to expound on that this week by telling you how we rebuilt our family in the days and weeks that followed that awful conversation on that nightmarish day.
Two words, you guys: Forgiveness & Redemption. Each one only possible through the work of Jesus Christ. We’re going to spend the next two weeks talking about those two words. Two words that bring hope, healing, and wholeness to brokenness. That changed and continue to change the course of humanity forever and ever! Two words that are EVERYTHING!!!
Forgiveness & Redemption.
Matthew 26:28 – This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.
The impact of the crucifixion is this: We were all born helplessly lost in sin – Separated from God with no hope of getting back to Him on our own. We needed a sacrifice. A perfect sacrifice. The blood of one who was sinless, and spotless is the only thing that could cover our sin. Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless human life. He willingly gave that life for us, shedding his perfect blood so that we could be forgiven. The crucifixion is what made forgiveness possible.
Hebrews 2:17 – Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.
So this Friday, when we commemorate that day more than 2000 years ago when Jesus hung on that cross – beaten and bloodied, struggling for breath as He slowly suffocated, may we whisper a prayer of solemn praise. We did not deserve it. He did it out of His great love for us, and we are forever made right because of it. May we praise Him forever for the crucifixion – the forgiveness of sins! (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 4:10, Romans 3:23-25)
Colossians 1:13-14 – For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His Dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Acts 13:38 – Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness of sins.Jesus hung on that cross, beaten and bloodied, and we did not deserve it. Still, He did it out of His great love for us, and we are forever made right because of it. Click To Tweet
It is absolutely imperative to a victorious, abundant life that each of us come face to face with the absolute wretchedness of our own hearts. Sisters, we are utterly sinful! I had to face that fact many years ago. I had to stop believing that I was “good” and recognize that on my own there was not a single “good” thing I could do. Even those things that looked righteous to those around me were motivated by sin if I was being honest.
I had to have that moment, we all do, in which I realized that it is only because I have been forgiven that I have been declared righteous. There isn’t anything I need to do or can do for that matter. It is finished!
Romans 8:1 – So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Hebrews 10:17 – Then He says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.
Matthew 18:21-35 – Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold – along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned – to pay the debt.
But the man fell down before his master and begged him, “Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.” Then the master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. “Be patient with me, and I will pay it” he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Our Forgiveness Story
This is the tough part. It’s easy to accept forgiveness for ourselves. It’s even easy to be overwhelmed with thanksgiving for that forgiveness. BUT, to humble ourselves to the point that we realize we are no better than anyone else, and that just as we have been forgiven, we must also forgive? Well… that’s not so easy. Is it?
It wasn’t easy for me, and it wasn’t easy for our children. When we all had to come face to face with the fact that the man who was supposed to love us, and protect us, and lead us had betrayed us so deeply – well… it shook us real hard.
There were a lot of tears. There were a lot of nights spent holed up in our rooms. Wrestling with God. There were four of us who had to forgive. There were four very different ways of getting to that forgiveness.
In the interest of protecting my babies, I don’t want to tell you much about who struggled with what. I’m going to keep it vague:
For one of our kids, it was a devastation as if the mightiest of warriors had fallen in battle. A hero had died. This child had to reconcile how the person he/she most looked up to in the whole world could possibly be the same person who had betrayed us all so deeply. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t line up. Who was this child going to look up to now?
For another, it was about security. The safety of our home had been shaken to its core, and this child reeled in the aftermath – trying to right a world that had been turned upside down. What was real, what wasn’t? Who could be trusted, who couldn’t? How could he/she ever feel safe again?
The third child might have seemed the least impacted, but through the silence, I wondered what wasn’t being dealt with deep down. To be frank, I still worry a little about what might turn up one day, and earnestly pray that what appeared to be a bit of naivete and a quick forgiveness was exactly that.
As for me, I think what drove me to want to deal with the situation in the most God-honoring way possible… was them! I was acutely aware that how I reacted was being watched. I knew they were looking to me to lead them. Honestly, I didn’t love that position. It didn’t feel fair. But in hindsight, it was a great mercy! That responsibility drove me into the Word, and onto my knees – no doubt greatly expediting the process of forgiveness. Knowing little hearts dearer to me than anything in this world would be impacted forever by my response forced me to very quickly recognize the vastness of the debt I had been forgiven, compared to the debt I was being asked to forgive. How could I withhold what I had so freely been given?
Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Friends, what all five of us have realized since then is this: Forgiveness here on earth does much more for the giver than the receiver. Though it often feels unfair when God asks us to release another human being from the great debt we are owed, putting justice in God’s hands frees us! Holding on to bitterness, and rage, and anger, and harsh words, and all the rest – it only tightens the noose around our own souls. Living in that place, well, it just sucks! It’s miserable!Forgiveness here on earth does much more for the giver than the receiver. Though it often feels unfair when God asks us to release another human being from the great debt we are owed, putting justice in God's hands frees us! Click To Tweet
One child in particular had a really hard time with this. That child held on to the anger longer than any of the rest of us. He/she got so knotted up inside that the world seemed to continue to crumble all around day by day. Only growing more and more unstable. More and more impossible to manage. Anxiety and Depression took hold. It affected everything. School, friends, everything! It was all such a mess because he/she was such a mess! I worried this child was going to completely fall apart. We spent hours talking it out, but the poor thing just couldn’t let go.
Praise the Lord, that child also sought comfort in the Word of God. It does not return void, my friends! In time, as its life-giving words sunk deep into that knotted up heart, we finally saw a glimmer of hope spark in the darkness. Each day brought another cautious step towards releasing the burden of unforgiveness. It was… is a slow process, and I can’t say there was one single moment of knowing it was done. It may be years before it’s fully done. For all of us! But it is BEING DONE.
Praise God that child, along with all the rest of us chose obedience. What a blessing it has been! I get the privilege of living in freedom and seeing my most treasured ones doing the same. Gone is the constant dark gloom we lived in for several months. There is a joy in our home again. Don’t misunderstand, we still have difficult days, or even weeks. We still get sad sometimes. But it is not constant, it is not all-consuming, and it is accompanied by peace even on the dark days. Friends, God does not ask us to forgive to be unfair. He does it for our own sake. Won’t you choose obedience too?
Luke 17: 3-4 – If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.
Mark 11:24-25 – I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.
Matthew 11:28-30 – Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
*How about you? Have you ever struggled with unforgiveness? What does the crucifixion and the forgiveness you’ve been offered through His shed blood mean to you?