Forgiveness: Part 2 NO easy way out
Let's look at Mat 27 to see what really was happening during the time that Jesus was paying for our sins on that cross:
We read in the Bible tat Jesus was crucified just outside of the city gates of Jerusalem:
Joh 19:20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin...
Heb 13:12 Therefore Jesus also suffered and died outside the [city's] gate in order that He might purify and consecrate the people through [the shedding of] His own blood and set them apart as holy [for God].
Mat 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Mat 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
If we read of the same event in the Gospel of John, we find the following verse:
Joh 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mat 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Mat 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Mat 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Let's carefully study at a few of these passages in order to find out what had to transpire in order for God to be able to forgive us of our trespasses:
We know that Jesus himself was THE LIGHT, but in verse 45 we read that the light departed from the earth for a period of time. And why do we read in verse 46 that God would forsake His own son?
The answers to these questions are found in Isaiah's prophecy regarding the crucifixion of Christ, 700 hundred years before it happened:
In Isa 53 he asks: "Who would believe our report?"; what report is he referring to? Verses 2 to 12 tells the story of a God that is to be hurt, wounded, afflicted and indeed, killed. Who on earth would believe this report?
In chapter 61 verses 1 and 2 Isaiah stated:
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Isa 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
This is part of a message of hope for the nation.
The first sermon that Jesus ever gave, started with this same passage, his message of hope for all, but He omits the last part, the part of the "day of vengeance of our God".
But in chapter 63, Isaiah is given a vision of exactly what is to happen during the terrible day of wrath of the Almighty God - :
Isa 63:1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
Isa 63:2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine vat?
Isa 63:3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
Isa 63:4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
Isa 63:5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
Isa 63:6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
To recap, in the gospels of Matthew and John we read that during the crucifixion, it became dark, Jesus was alone, and when He completed His divine mission, He exclaimed: "It is finished" before dying on that cross.
In Isaiah we read that during the crucifixion, Jesus will be wounded, afflicted and killed on that cross, but we also read that during the terrible "Day of the Lord" - crucifixion day, Jesus would trample the winepress of God's wrath and anger.
Let us now turn to the book of Revelation, in order to put all of these pieces of scripture together. [...for the full story on what happened on the cross, please refer to my blog entitled "The mysteries of the cross"...] I will highlight every reference with boldface to tie these scriptures together.
Rev 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Rev 14:16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Rev 14:17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
Rev 14:19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God . [Isa 63]
Rev 14:20 And the winepress was trodden without the city [Outside of the city gates: Joh 19:20, Heb 13:12], and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Rev 16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done [ Mat 27:50, Joh 19:30].
Rev 16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. [Mat 27:51-54]
This is what I've learnt from God regarding forgiveness:
There is no easy way out. in order to get forgiveness, blood must flow, in other words, there must be conflict. Jesus trod the winepress of God's wrath and indignation, it wasn't easy, and it was the worst kind of torture ever undergone. He did that because the wrath of God was so great.
It became dark for those terrible three hours because Jesus had to undergo a metamorphosis on that cross. He was the light of the world, and he had to transform into the utter darkness of sin. He did not merely sin himself, nor did He not merely take our sins on Himself, He actually became the sins that we had committed:
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
It was not Jesus the man who was nailed to that cross, it was not even Jesus the God who was nailed to that cross, it was SIN that was nailed to the cross. That is why God had to leave Him, why He was alone; God could not be where all of mankind's sin was concentrated - so darkness reigned for those three hours.
But where were the perpetrators of all the sins, they weren't even there, most of the sinners living at the time were elsewhere, even committing more sins, while Jesus was hanging on the cross! They were not even participating in the forgiveness of their sins!!!
That is the template, the example for us to true forgiveness. We cannot simply shrug our shoulders and utter the words "I forgive you", and expect that it is done, not even Almighty God forgave in that way.
What is clear from this example is that the person requiring forgiveness, the guilty party merely needs to (honestly) ask for forgiveness. But the forgiving party has to do all of the work; the forgiving party has to endure the conflict, the pain. Fortunally for us, we do not have to become sin for all men like Jesus did, thus God the father will not leave us in our time of pain. Like Jesus, we will have to suffer the injustice, the humiliation, the pain, the shame, but unlike Jesus, not to physical death - merely unto death of self. Jesus had to conquer physical death; the forgiver has to conquer his or her own pride, the feelings of offence and hurt.
Once the forgiver has overcome this last obstacle, he or she can truly cry out of the temple (don't you know, don't you know, YOU'RE the temple?) "IT IS DONE!", "IT IS FINISHED!", "IT IS ACCOMPLISHED!" It is then that Jesus, who physically died fort those trespasses that you have just forgiven, takes it upon Him, and truly frees you of the burden. Satan might try and tempt you over and over again by reminding you of what this person has done to you, but if you have truly achieved forgiveness, you will see these trespasses nailed to Jesus' cross, not yours. At the precise moment that you start praising Him for taking this burden unto Himself, your mind will be cleared of the memories sent to trip you over, and you will actually find yourself able to interact with the person that offended against you in a kind and loving way.
I have heard the testimony of a mother in the Cape flats whose only son was murdered by a gangster, who went to visit the murderer in the prison where the he was being held. In the process of forgiving him, she actually adopted him as her son, and got a room ready to take him in the moment he gets out of prison. This is true forgiveness, and it is given to us all, so we should give to all that offend against us.