Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'll Never Forgive

Have you been so hurt that you said you would never forgive someone? Maybe a loved one was murdered, raped, or molested. Maybe it was you. Maybe someone stole your identity and cost you a lot of time, trouble, and money to get it all straightened out. Maybe someone promised you something and didn't deliver. Maybe you paid a lot of money for a job or investment and they took your money and never delivered what was promised. Maybe a family member said something that cut very deep. Maybe, like many others, you had a parent who never made you feel loved, wanted, or appreciated.

Jesus knows how you feel. He chose twelve men to follow Him. These were men He bonded with, spent every day with, shared meals with, and to whom he bore His heart. He taught them. He fished with them. He raised Peter's mother-in-law from what could have been her deathbed. John was the disciple that loved Jesus so much, He thought of Him as a brother. Peter vowed to follow Christ to the very end and never leave Him. These twelve men traveled with Jesus everywhere He went, except for those times when He went alone to pray or when He sent them to buy food. They were together every day for three and a half years.

The night before He was to be crucified, Jesus took all twelve of those men to a room, prepared a basin of water and a towel, stooped before them, one by one, removed the sandals from their dirt caked feet, and washed them. He already knew that Peter would deny he even knew Jesus as He stood before Pilate. Jesus already knew that, later, when they would eat their last meal together, that Judas would leave with the money pouch and go tell the chief of the Sanhedrin where to find Him. Jesus knew that Caiaphas would notify the Roman soldiers and have Him arrested. He knew Judas would lead the soldiers to Him in the garden, and betray Him with a kiss (on each cheek, as is the custom in Europe and Middle Eastern countries). Jesus knew that as He stood trial for crimes, which He had never committed, every one of those disciples would leave Him. Only John returned as He hung on the cross. There Jesus gave John the charge to care for His widowed mother.

Jesus had already forgiven these men, as shown by His actions as He washed their feet. He was giving them two examples: first, that they should not be too proud to serve in any capacity; secondly, that they should always be quick to forgive. The disciples would understand these two principles what Jesus was gone from them.

If Jesus could forgive His tormenters, having never done anything wrong—if He could forgive you for everything you have ever done, how can you deny forgiveness to someone who has wronged you? Jesus never did anything wrong in His entire 33 1/2 years of life; yet all of us have done things wrong and we've never been treated as badly as Jesus was. Yes, the person who wronged you deserves your scorn, but you also deserve Jesus's scorn; and you have been given mercy. Let us then be merciful to others, even as we have been shown mercy.

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