“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM” were the words spoken by Jesus as He was hanging and dying on the cross. The Romans who crucified Him, and the religious leaders who encouraged Pilot to pronounce His death sentence, were present at the crucifixion site. Jesus enemies heard Him pray to God to FORGIVE THEM. Jesus words seem to sum up what a Christian's attitude is supposed to be!
Luke 23:34 NKJV
"Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do. And they divided His garments and cast lots."
Russell Bradley Jones, author of the book GOLD FROM GOLGOTHA states, “this prayer is not a request for a blanket pardon or cancellation of the penalty of all sins of all those who were at the cross.”
No, instead it is a statement showing the grace of God because of the love of God that Jesus had even for his enemies that tortured Him and were killing him at that very moment. This is the love we are supposed to extend to others because of grace.
“Also, such a request would have been inconsistent both with divine justice and human free agency.”
“Jesus never granted pardon except to individuals on a petition of faith,” just as He did to the thief on the cross who repented to Christ. Jesus told him, “today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus has never granted a mass pardon to a crowd of non repented sinners, regardless of their ignorance or guilt, but neither does He hate them or want vengeance on them. Jesus loves them and wants them to repent before they die so they can avoid eternal judgment, which is part of the justice of God that hates sin. After death there is no more, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They have had a lifetime to respond to the grace of God and repent. The Bible tells us in Romans chapter one and other places, that all men have an opportunity to know Him and follow Him.
Jesus is basically saying, "Father give them a chance to repent. Do not allow your angels to destroy them right now to save your son." Jesus was requesting, “that condemnation of their sin be held in abeyance until they might know the true meaning of what they are doing. It was not a request for the cancellation of the consequences of guilt, but a request for the postponement of the consequences.”
The people present were amazed by Jesus prayer as they knew far too little about forgiveness of injuries. As Jones writes, “The Romans worshipped ‘Revenge’ as a god. “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, blood for blood” was a part of Hebrew ethics.” Even though grace, mercy and forgiveness are throughout the Old Testament, those purely religious people who were not really following God in their heart used only portions of the scriptures to live by. They used these cherry picked scriptures such as "an eye for eye" to penalize their enemies. This is not the attitude of a true follower of God. Instead as Moses pleaded to God, do not destroy them.
God showed David mercy in the Old Testament when he should’ve been killed for adultery and premeditated murder. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lied. Cain was the first murderer yet he wasn't killed for his crime. Rahab was a prostitute and later the wife of Salmon. She was the great great grandmother of King David, and an ancestor of JESUS Christ. Sampson committed fornication. The list goes on and on. There were cities of refuge in the Old Testament. Once again grace, mercy and forgiveness are all through the Old Testament and we could give pages and pages of examples of this.
My definition of GRACE is "TIME GIVEN WHEN THE SPIRIT IS IN THE BODY TO JUDGE YOURSELF ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPURES. WHEN THE SPIRIT LEAVES THE BODY, GRACE IS OVER AND NOW GOD/JESUS JUDGES YOU ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD."
Acts 20:32 NKJV
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified."
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
Our Compassionate High Priest
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Peter 4:8 NKJV
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Galatians 5:22-24 NKJV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
MERCY, GRACE AND LOVE IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE PERSONALITY, THE ATTITUDE AND CHARACTERISTIC OF FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST. LET US TRULY REPRESENT OUR LORD SO JESUS CAN BE SEEN THROUGH US ON EARTH AND SALVATION AND RESTORATION CAN BE A PART OF OUR DAILY LIVES.
May God richly bless you,
Dr. Jonathan Hansen
GRACE, MERCY AND FORGIVENESS
The dictionary defines grace as unmerited divine assistance, given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification; virtue coming from God, approval, favor, or privilege.
Grace therefore is the disposition to act or instance of kindness.
On the other hand, mercy comes from the Latin word merced or merces, which means "Price Paid". It has the connotation of forgiveness, benevolence and kindness. It is by God's mercy we do not receive the punishment we deserve because God's mercy extends his forgiveness when we repent of our sins. He is merciful and forgives us.
The Mercy of God
Sometimes we may pray "God have leniency on my soul'', or sometimes we proclaim "God have mercy on me!" Through all the ages God's mercy is not only given to the children of Israel, but to all those who come to God and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God extended his mercy to Saul, who was later called Paul. He was the persecutor of the Church. He hated Christians because he thought they were wrong, but on the Damascus Road, God struck him with blindness. Despite being blinded, Saul continued to Damascus. He later repented of his sins and God restored his sight. God had mercy on him. God can have mercy on us when we come back to him.
In the Bible there are many exhortations of mercy. One example is found in Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". Also in Luke 6:36-37, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful, and in verse 37 we read "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven".
Mercy extends farther to acts of compassion in which we lend a hand to the needy around us.
Allow me to mention this saying from (name withheld) "Rivers do not drink their own water; the sun does not shine on itself; trees do not eat their own fruit; flowers do not spread their own fragrance for themselves. Nature is an example of living for others. We are all born to help each other, no matter how difficult it is. Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you"
God extended his act of mercy to us, therefore, let us also love, forgive, and care.
Dear brethren, we deserve nothing good from God. God does not owe us anything. The good we experience from God is a result of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5) Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors us. He shows us approval and kindness, in blessing us with good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Common grace refers to the blessings God bestows on all mankind regardless of their spiritual standing before him, while saving grace is that special blessing whereby God sovereignly bestows unmerited divine assistance upon his elect for their regeneration and sanctification.
The Forgiveness of God
We are to forgive like Christ has forgiven us.
As I bring this discussion to a close I want to remind us about God's love. The 'KEY' to a healthy relationship with God is to love other people. It is not easy to love other people. Yet Jesus said that this is one of the two most important commandments. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind; This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself" Matthew 22:37-40. When we love, it does not mean we will not be disappointed by people. Yes, we may be disappointed, but we have to bear with other people. That means putting up with other people's faults, differences, and quirks. It means showing compassion, love, tolerance, gentleness, and patience. It also means not commenting every time someone does something wrong.
As I conclude, may I draw your attention to a portion of the love chapter? 1 Corinthians 13:3, "And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not love, it profits me nothing." All that we do by the grace of and through the mercy ministry, we must do all because of the love God has bestowed upon us in that while we were yet sinners, God sent his Son to die for us.
May we live to please the EL SHADDAI, by his grace, mercy and forgiveness and crown it all with love.
Pastor Tobias Nyamwaya