“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’ “
-Matthew West, Forgiveness
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, why did he say, “Father, forgive them,
they are blind fools they know not what they do.”
How could they not know what they are doing? They consciously chose to be there, to make the long walk up to the Calvary hill, to drive the nails through His flesh. How could they not know?
Maybe what Jesus meant was they didn’t know He was the Son of God, and if they knew, or rather, believed that he really was the Savior, things would have ended differently.
I don’t think that’s all Jesus meant. I think it goes much deeper. He’s not just asking God to forgive the men who hung Him on the cross, He’s asking God to forgive every human and every sin and every hurt ever inflicted.
In most cases it’s not that we don’t know the difference between right and wrong, at least if we really sat down and thought about it. It’s that we are completely incapable of going through our lives without sinning, without doing wrong, without hurting people.
If we could, we’d never need a Savior to begin with.
We are all of us, fallen, sinful, broken people.
Fallen, sinful, broken people in need of Jesus.
Why is this the realization that will help you forgive anyone who ever hurt you?
I propose this because through this lens, you look at your overly critical mother, your absent father, your sibling betrayal, your thief of a friend, your teacher who embarrassed you, your boss who blamed you, that stranger who sexually assaulted you, that trusted mentor who stopped standing up for you…
And on the other side of that lens, what is left? The cross. And our desperate need for it.
Forgiving someone is not saying IT’S OKAY or IT DIDN’T MATTER. It’s saying IT DID MATTER but with the acknowledgement that humans disappoint other humans. It’s saying we cannot hold our fellow humans to the standards only Jesus can meet. It’s simply understanding that the person who hurt us needs Jesus, and He responded and died on the cross for them. He was whipped and beaten not just for our sin, but for theirs too. And once we start looking at them through Jesus’ eyes, forgiveness becomes inevitable. The anger begins to fade and a level of compassion begins to form.
We don’t forgive, because the person deserves it, we forgive, to release them to the cross. We set them free, and in turn become free ourselves.
That person who hurt you? It wasn’t okay. But God is still at work in them, He’s not done yet. And more importantly he’s not done with you yet either. Jesus is filling empty seats and holding open doors and mending broken hearts.
Who do you need to forgive? Do you think looking through the eyes of heaven rather than the eyes of the world can help you achieve this?
This song “Just Another Birthday” by Casting Crowns, is heartbreaking yet beautiful. It’s an example of pointing to the cross in the midst of brokenness and emptiness and allowing Him to fill the holes left in our hearts be fellow humans.