REFLECT – Day 22:
Yesterday we continued our exploration of “The Beatitudes” and began to look at forgiveness and mercy.
Why? Primarily because Jesus speaks these words: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’
But to talk about forgiveness and the forgiveness that Christ offers is a life long exploration, a journey in which we should continually dig deeper, discovering more while knowing that there is always more depth to be found.
Today we look at how Extreme Jesus forgiveness is by searching out our passage: Luke 23:32-43.
Jesus’ words from the cross look back across the whole of the story of his passion (Jesus journey of suffering culminating with his death on the cross). Jesus has been betrayed, arrested, tried, mocked, beaten and crucified.
As Jesus is lifted up and in agony, he is still able to forgive and to let go: ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ Such is the mercy of God. Jesus is still able to reach out to one of those being crucified beside him: ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ That’s pretty extreme, being publicly shamed and put through immense pain, alongside the worst of all people…and still being able to offer forgiveness. Would those words have brought you great hope and comfort if you were the one hanging beside him on a cross?
At the last supper, Jesus gave a unique meaning to his death on the cross. He takes the cup and gives thanks. He gives it to the disciples saying: ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ That’s extreme too… an invitation to his disciples and to us today to see his giving of himself as our ultimate sin offering. Furthermore, a calling for all of us to recognise through this everlasting symbol our need to drink deeply of the cup of Christ’s forgiveness.
Forgiveness and mercy are more than strong themes in the life and teaching of Jesus. They are the reason he offered his life.
Turn the words of the thief into your prayer today:
‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Add a third column to your list: specific areas where you feel you need God’s forgiveness and mercy.