Reflections on the Cross; Charles Spurgeon
Updated: Apr 6, 2021
I'd planned to write and share this blog post (my second) yesterday on Good Friday. But, I ran into some technical difficulties that ended up taking me several hours trying to figure this blog posting stuff out. I finally figured it out by 2 am! Not the normal Good Friday routine at the Irvine's, me trying to post a blog and not going to church to worship.
But nothing has really been normal since last Good Friday (2020), has it?
Praise God, for His grace, is sufficient!
My early thoughts in the day this Good Friday started with reflection after reading (Luke 23:34). Jesus, suffering and dying on the cross, said "...'Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.' and they divided his clothes and cast lots."
Pardon my posting a representation of Jesus dying on the cross taken from "The Passion of the Christ." But I believe that image is likely, from what we know, the closest representation of the suffering he endured on our behalf.
I once read on a social media post someone commented asking why Christians post pictures of Jesus on the cross, saying along the lines, "do they think he wants to be reminded of that?" That comes from a place of being uninformed of who Jesus is, and why he came to live among us, suffer, and die on the cross and rise from the dead.
I believe it's important we Christians reflect on the cross, and not just on Good Friday. Jesus took, of his own will, the punishment we deserve before we, by God's grace, became believers and followers of Christ.
And so, there is Jesus on the cross. Beaten and bloodied by the hands of men. Suffering one of the most horrific, painful executions man has ever created. The people who placed him there mocked him, he (Jesus) who was innocent and who bore no sin. And what does he ask his Father to do of the crowd? Forgive them.
Holding grudges are a serious matter to God. It is sinful. We live in a culture today that has nearly lost all of its ability to forgive. It celebrates holding grudges. It's a culture that says forgiveness is a sin, and redemption is found by canceling and destroying the lives of those it finds to be offensive and blasphemes to their worldview. And it uses it for its own power and gain.
Jesus was beaten and hung on the cross to die for similar reasons. For his claims of being the Son of God, one with the Father, who could forgive sins and he who is the only way to the Father. Over 2,000 years ago, the people who crucified Jesus found him offensive and blasphemes to their view of who they believed the Messiah was to be. People still find Jesus offensive today. And some have taken and distorted who he is and his teachings to affirm their desires and for their gain.
"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18)
Years ago I was attending a funeral where during the luncheon reception, I was in a conversation with a group in which one person (a woman of faith) was lamenting over a feud between her and her sister. I'll never forget her words, saying angrily, "I will NEVER forgive her!" I was struck by the hold this anger, this inability to forgive another held over her. She was a slave to it.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).
And it's in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray..."Father in Heaven...forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors..."
Reflecting on Luke 23:34, Charles Spurgeon wrote, "He does not utter a single word of upbraiding. He does not say, 'Why do you do this? Why pierce the hands that fed you? Why nail the feet that followed after you in mercy? Why mock the man who loved to bless you?' No, not a word even of gentle upbraiding, much less anything like a curse. You notice Jesus does not say, 'I forgive them,' but you may read that between the lines. He says that all the more because he does not say it in words. But he had laid aside his majesty and is fastened to the cross and takes the humble position of a pleading rather than the more lofty place of one who had the power to forgive. How often when men say, 'I forgive you,' is there a kind of selfishness about it. At any rate, self is asserted in the act of forgiving. Jesus takes the place of a pleader for those who are murdering him. Blessed be his name!"
Christians, we are living in unforgiving times. Don't let the power of holding grudges or wanting revenge for the wrongs done to you enslave you. Reflect on the Cross and the grace and mercy in Christ you have been freely given. Be the light and the salt in this world darkened by hate and seeking revenge.
Be forgiving freely, as forgiveness was given freely to you.
And have mercy on others, remembering, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Praise be to God!