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Monday, October 6, 2014

Forgive Them

Luke 23:34: He forgave them

This past sunday, a boy around 8 raised his hand near the end of service. The pastor noticed and responded. The boy asked, "Why didn't God punish the people who killed Jesus?" The pastor said, "Because, Jesus forgave them." The little boy frowned. "How did He 'forgave' them?" The pastor then explained how Jesus asked his Father to forgive them while he was hanging on the cross. The little boy then walked up and handed the pastor a picture he'd been drawing during the sermon of Jesus on the cross and the soldiers below. He pointed and said that the soldiers were mean to Jesus, but he still cared about them. The pastor said, "yes, and he forgave them."

I shared this story on facebook yesterday, and then explained the following: 

The church learned more in those few short minutes than the rest of service combined. 
1. Children are paying attention, and they want to know who Jesus is. 
2. They see what many adults fail to recognize, that in a crazy world telling us to seek revenge when wronged, Jesus is drastically different. 
3. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. You see, many expected that the pastor would keep talking and ignore the boy's raised hand, but instead, he did exactly what Jesus had once done when he wanted the children to be around him. He acknowledged the boy, and allowed the service to be changed up. This is exactly what it means to strive toward being like Jesus, and it took less than five minutes to learn or be reminded of these things.

This child-like wonder affected me so greatly that this morning, while spending time studying God's word, I looked up the verse where Jesus said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." I've read and heard about Jesus dying on the cross so many times in my life, and yet I had never before realized the context of these words spoken by my Savior. I had assumed the words related to them hanging him on the cross to die, and that in part is true, but what I never noticed before was the rest of this verse. The verse goes on to say, "And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." I didn't add this part in the picture above, because I have a feeling you'll want to check for yourself. 
In the next five verses, we see the rulers, the soldiers, and one of the thieves mocking Jesus. He asked God to forgive them right before they began humiliating him as he was dying! He knew what they were going to do before they even began doing it, and he had already wanted them to be forgiven. If it weren't enough to forgive them for killing him, for whipping him, for placing a sharp-crowned bed of thorns on his head, and other events that lead up to him on the cross, he forgave them for what would make me want to hate them. Even as I write this, my throat is tight in aggravation of how they treated a dying man, their very own Savior nonetheless. 

Thousands of years later, child-like wonder changed the way one sermon ended, and made at least one person see this well-known story in a new light, overwhelming her with his love for ALL of mankind, including those that mock him. 

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