Father, Forgive Them

1 John 19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 23:32–34 (ESV)

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; John 19:18

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was crucified as a criminal though he was innocent of any crime. An innocent man hung on a cross between two men who were truly criminals. But this was the plan and purpose of God. Jesus knew this. He knew he had to die as a sacrifice for our sins. So, when he looked out from the cross at those who were responsible for his suffering, he did not seek vengeance. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus sought forgiveness for the guilty, which was his mission from the very beginning.

Today, Jesus seeks the same for you and me. We too have sinned against God and are guilty. We deserve the wrath of God. However, Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins to pay the penalty that we cannot. When we repent of our sins and turn to him in faith, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” And the Father does. What a wonderful and merciful Savior!

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Denying Jesus

The Sorrow of Saint Peter

The Sorrow of Saint Peter – Public Domain

 

Reading the Word

Luke 22:54–62 (ESV)

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed along at a distance to keep an eye on what was happening. This is the same Peter who, just a few hours earlier, had promised to never abandon Jesus, even if it meant he would die at Jesus’ side. When others recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ disciples and began questioning him about it, Peter denied that he knew Jesus. He did this not only once, but three times. After the third denial, Peter heard a rooster crow and realized he had done exactly what the Lord had said he would do. He had denied Christ.

Before we come down too hard on Peter, we need to ask ourselves if we have ever done anything similar. I believe, if we are honest, that most of us are guilty. We have been in conversations where we failed to speak up when Jesus was being discussed. We have had opportunities to share the gospel with others, but instead remained quiet. We have tried to remain in the shadows rather than be identified with Jesus because we believed that if we spoke up, we would face mocking, ridicule, or persecution. We have failed Jesus just as Peter did.

It is wonderful to know that Jesus went to Peter later, after the resurrection, and restored him. Jesus let Peter know that he was forgiven and that there were many things for Peter still to do in the plans and purposes of God. Peter would testify to the world about Jesus. Jesus also stands ready to forgive us and use us for his glory in this world. We are also called to continue to testify to the wonder and truth of the gospel. Let us take the message of Christ to a world that is desperately in need of Jesus, forgetting our failures and focusing on the grace and love of our Savior.

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True Peace

John 1427 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:27–31 (ESV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ words here were meant to comfort and encourage his followers before his time with them came to an end. He told them that he was leaving peace with them and it was a peace that the world could not give. Jesus’ peace must be understood in light of the cross. His sacrificial death brought peace to all who believe through the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. Those who belong to Jesus no longer have to fear the wrath of God because of sin, but have the hope of eternal life in a new creation without sin. The world can never offer peace because it is steeped in sin and evil that only bring pain and suffering and heartache.

Peace with God. What a wonderful thing! Consider the words of the old hymn, A Mind at Perfect Peace with God:

A mind at perfect peace with God;
O what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood;
This, this indeed is peace.

By nature and by practice far,
How very far from God;
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.

So nigh, so very nigh to God,
I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.

Why should I ever anxious be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me “Mine is thine.”

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The Return of the Prodigal Son

Prodigal Son The Return

Prodigal Son, the Return (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 15:11–24 (ESV)

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The third and final parable of Luke 15 is one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament. It is the parable often referred to as The Parable of the Prodigal Son. The word “prodigal” is not one that we often use today, but it speaks of a person who is wasteful and spends money in a reckless manner. It is easy to see how this parable earned its popular title.

The amazing part of the parable is that when the prodigal son returns home after wasting all he had, his father is happy to have him back. Not only does he welcome him, but he restores him to complete standing and throws a party to celebrate. Jesus told this parable to teach the Pharisees and scribes about God, who is represented by the father in the parable. God celebrates when a sinner returns home. It is a grand and joyous occasion! No matter where the person has roamed or what he has done while away, when a sinner repents and goes to the Father, the Father welcomes him with open arms and celebrates.

Know that God’s love for you is the same. He stands ready to welcome you home no matter how far you have gone or what you have done. Turn from your sins and go to him now. He is waiting for you.

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Repent or Perish

The Tower of Siloam

The Tower of Siloam (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 13:1–5 (ESV)

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus addressed the mindset that some had, and some continue to have, that when bad things happen it is the direct result of something the victim did. Evidently, there were some who thought the Galileans who were victims of Herod’s attacks were proven to be great sinners because of the evil that fell on them. Likewise, when a tower fell and killed eighteen people, some believed it was because those who died were greater sinners than others. Do we think like this today? Have you ever heard someone ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” How often do people today say “what goes around comes around” or “karma will get you?” These are not biblical truths.

The Bible teaches that we all live in a fallen world that is greatly impacted by sin. As a result, tragedy, disease, sickness, and death fall on us all. We cannot assume that someone who suffers great harm is any worse of a sinner than a person who lives a long, prosperous, and healthy life. The truth is, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and we all stand condemned by our sin (Romans 6:23). There is no place for thinking that we are good and others are bad. We are all in the same boat and it is sinking!

When we understand that we stand condemned by our sin, we are in a place where we can do something about it. We can repent (i.e. turn away from it) and call out on Jesus to forgive us as we trust in his sacrificial death as the payment for our sins. When we do that, our sins are forgiven and, instead of condemnation, we receive eternal life. Will you repent and turn to Christ today?

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Settle Your Debt Today

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 12:57–59 (ESV)

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Getting entangled in a legal battle can be a costly affair. This is why it is best to settle matters before they go to court. It is of great benefit to work things out between the parties rather than allow a judge to make the decision, who may even sentence an offender to prison.

In the same way, it is better to settle matters with God before standing before him as Judge. Jesus’ message was that sinners can be reconciled to God through repentance and faith in Jesus and his teachings. Those who repent and believe are pardoned of their sins. Those who do not believe will stand before God and be judged. The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God in a place called hell.

So, we are given two options: We can settle our sin problem now by trusting in Christ. Or, we can stand before God later and be judged for our sin. It is much better to repent and turn to Christ now.

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A Divisive Message

Luke 1251 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:49–53 (ESV)

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many have the mistaken idea that Jesus and his message were so kind and gentle that there was no way to have any other response than to love him. However, that is simply not true! Jesus rubbed many people the wrong way. That is exactly why they crucified him on a cross!

In our passage for today, Jesus told his disciples that his message would be divisive. It would even divide families. Jesus came proclaiming that all people are sinners and must repent of their sins. All people must believe and trust in Jesus for salvation. There is no other way. So, you are either with Jesus or you are against him. There is no middle ground.

As Jesus’ disciples in the world today, we are called to proclaim the same gospel message that he preached. We must call people to repent and turn to Christ for salvation and warn them that there is no other way to be reconciled to God. Just as in Jesus’ day, many are offended by such a message and wish to silence it. The gospel, while offering forgiveness and life for all who believe, is also a message that causes division. If you desire to live for Christ and proclaim the message of salvation, it will not be long before you face opposition. Do not be surprised and do not be discouraged. The same thing happened to Jesus.

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Forgiving as We Have Been Forgiven

col3-13

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Matthew 18:23–35 (ESV)

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Forgiving Over and Over Again

i-forgive-you-image

Reading the Word

Matthew 18:21–22 (ESV)

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Luke 17:3–4 (ESV)

3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

How many times should we forgive someone? Once? Twice? How about seven times? This was Peter’s question for Jesus and Jesus’ response reminds us that our forgiveness of others should look like the forgiveness that God shows towards us.

Jesus told Peter that we should not limit our forgiveness towards others to seven times, but seventy-seven times! Now, Jesus was not actually giving us a specific number to keep track of in some way, but using hyperbole to make the point that our forgiveness should be unending. Just as God forgives us, we should forgive others. Thankfully, though we sin against the Lord every day, he continues to forgive. That is the kind of love we are to show towards others. We are to show the same love that God has shown to us.

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Working on Forgiveness

True Forgiveness

Reading the Word

Matthew 18:15–18 (ESV)

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage serves as a basic template of how to handle sin and forgiveness between two believers. The first step is to speak directly to the other person. If that does not work, then getting one or two other believers involved to help is step two. The final step is to bring the matter to the entire body of Christ, the church. If that fails, the person who refuses to repent and who continues to allow sin to cause division is to be removed from the fellowship of believers.

It is important to understand that the removal of a person is a last step. The person should be given every opportunity to turn from his sin and the offended party must stand ready to forgive. Unrepentant sin that causes division between Christians is a serious matter and can have a damaging impact on a church and its ability to be a witness to the world of the redemption found in Christ. This is why such sin must be dealt with and not ignored. Have you ever been part of a church suffering from great division? Chances are the church has let unrepentant sin go unchecked.

Is there a division between you and a fellow believer? Has someone offended you or have you offended someone? Have you gone to the other person to try to work things out? If not, go to the other person. Do not let sin continue to drive a wedge between the people of God. We must be an example of love and forgiveness so we can preach the message of the gospel to the world.

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