Jesus-Style Forgiveness

Do you feel like you don't know how to forgive someone?  If you know Jesus, you know how to forgive.  One of the reasons Jesus became human and came to earth was to experience all the trials of this world, and in doing so, to provide a model for us in our trials (see Hebrews 2:17-3:1 in the NIV). God's Word tells that we are to follow his example:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…. (Philippians 2:5, NIV)

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29, NIV)

During the events surrounding his crucifixion, Jesus suffered many of the things experienced in domestic violence: betrayal by an intimate, physical and verbal abuse, false accusations, injustice, agonizing court proceedings, and authorities who re-victimized him or turned their backs on his situation. He even predicted that the world would do the same to its women (Luke 23:28,31). Yet the gospels tell us that he was able to forgive his abusers, even in the midst of his sufferings. How can his actions provide a model for our struggles to forgive? Let's examine the way Jesus practiced forgiveness during the events of his crucifixion:

Jesus forgave and blessed the repentant: In Luke 23:42-43 we read that one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus sought reconciliation with him, and Jesus pardoned him. Jesus also commands us to forgive those who repent:

"So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." Luke 17:3-4 (NIV)

Jesus forgave even where there was no repentance: Jesus was concerned about forgiveness for all those who abused him. He also asks us to forgive anyone against whom we are holding unforgiveness:

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:34, NIV)

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25-26, NIV)

Jesus prayed for his abusers: As we saw in Luke 23:34 (see above), Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of his abusers. He asks us to do the same:

"…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:28 (NIV)

Jesus placed his abusers in the Father's hands: When Jesus' prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," he acknowledged that it was God the Father's responsibility to deal with his abusers. We are asked to do the same:

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:19, NIV)

Jesus was obediently submitted to the Father. Jesus was determined to stay in the Father's will, and to do things God's way:

"Father, … not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42, NIV)

"I have come to do your will, O God." (Psalm 40:8,NIV)

Jesus understood that the battle is not with flesh and blood, but with Satan: Sometimes it helps to remember that it is Satan who is the enemy.

"Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself." (John 12:31-32, NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, NIV)


Discussion Question:

  1. What are some things that may have helped you to forgive someone else?
  2. Consider this quote: "Forgiveness frees us to accept the injustices of life and then move on." How do you interpret this?

Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy