Could Jesus have said anything more significant?
By Charles Kelley
PLEASANTON, California – Good Friday is all about the miracle of forgiveness. Here’s what the late John R. W. Stott penned in The Cross of Christ:
“Even the excruciating pain could not silence his repeated entreaties: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’
“The soldiers gambled for his clothes. Some women stood afar off. The crowd remained a while to watch. Jesus commended his mother to John’s care and John to hers. He spoke words of kingly assurance to the penitent criminal crucified at his side.
“Meanwhile, the rulers sneered at him, shouting: ‘He saved others, but he can’t save himself!’ Their words, spoken as an insult, were the literal truth. He could not save himself and others simultaneously. He chose to sacrifice himself in order to save the world.”
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, the miracle of forgiveness multiplies from life to life. He sacrificed himself so we may be forgiven. He offered forgiveness for his murderers. And He set the ultimate example of the importance of extending the miracle to others.
I recently read Thomas Moore’s The Dark Nights of the Soul: “When you forgive, you release yourself as well as the other person. You allow life to go on, to bypass your exaggerated sense of virtue and your worry about being offended. As long as you sit on your power to forgive, you suppress your joy in life. You also limit yourself: If you keep those you love within tight boundaries of behavior, you have to bind yourself as well lest you be a hypocrite.”
Good Friday represents an opportunity for each of us to respond to the infinite love of God demonstrated by his enormous sacrifice resulting in his offer of forgiveness from the penalty of our sin. It is also a prompting for each of us to forgive those in our lives who least deserve it.
Both receiving and extending forgiveness are nothing short of miraculous.
I made the above painting in 2008 for a Good Friday Exhibition/Outreach organized by Doxology in Corvallis, Oregon. It is my interpretation of a photo from the old movie “The Greatest Story Every Told”.