SUNDAY MARCH 27, 2011
LENTEN MEDITATION III
The way and manner by which an innocent man like Jesus was condemned and crucified still casts doubts on the Judicial system of the time. Accusers’ testimony could not agree. Pilate had sent Jesus to his one time, enemy Herod and he sent him back. No fault was found. Yet, to please the Jews, Pilate gave in and condemned Jesus.
At the height of such betrayal, sandwiched between two notorious criminals, Jesus spoke one of his famous words on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” Lk. 23v34.
Jesus by the above, has set the tone for his believers to learn how to forgive no matter how deep or hurting the experience may be. Times without number people are rightly or wrongly hurt. Often this may lead to bottled and petty feelings. If care is not taken some may commit murder or decide to break up relationships if only it will give one a momentary happiness.
The idea of forgiveness is not all that an easy one and should not be treated with a wave of the hand by the Christian. Committed Christians must find a way to put it into practice and not merely talk about it. Israel as a nation offended God severally. But as a merciful Father He always welcomed and forgave them. God did not approve of their sins but He graciously restored them to fellowship. This act is that of forgiveness from a loving and a caring Father.
Daniel says: ‘To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him, neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws which he set before us.’ Dan. 9v9-10.
In the time of Jesus his disciples were worried on this subject matter of forgiveness. Some of them could not boldly address this issue until Peter spoke up. ‘…Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Mtt. 18v21.
I know if it is possible at this time of Lent, some people would wish to know how many times and then tighten up against their erring neighbours. But thank God Jesus’ response of seventy times seven is a better teaching for the Christian not to keep a diary of wrongs done to him or her. Rather it is good to forgive – and forgive.
Jesus in his teaching on prayer, found time to add: ‘…forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us…’ Lk. 11v(4).
Stephen also had the mind of Christ and he prayed while being stoned: ‘…Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep’ (Passed on) Acts 7v60.
How many people have really hurt you or wounded your spirit? Yes, as you think and remember you feel like fighting back: through the Radio, print media. It may not be necessary. As a child of God it is not a weakness to let go. Joseph had dreams that came to pass but when he relayed it to his family members they accepted it by selling him twenty shekels of silver. Judas sold Jesus. If he had fought back, himself and his household would have been in the dust bin of history.
In the divine economy of God, every soul is important. And those who claim to know and follow Him must exhibit characters like Him. Through Christ rebellious man was reconciled to God. He bore-share agony on the cross and paid the supreme price. If not for Christ, humanity was condemned and doomed but His blood bought us back.
As you think of the hurt. Is it not time to say I forgive? To your prodigal son, wayward husband, that woman who scattered your home by powers of the darkness, even the one who killed your family member. For Christ’s sake, I forgive you.
A mother hated her daughter so much, the reason was that the daughter’s marriage to a rich family and theirs being poor was to expose them to scorn in time to come in the hands of the rich. The hatred was so much on the day of her daughter’s wedding she stayed away. But this woman later became sick and no family member would donate blood except this most hated daughter and that saved the life of her mother. Lenten season teaches us this eternal lesson on forgiveness, those who are heaven bound imbibe and practices it.
God expects us to forgive one another as He did for us in Christ Jesus. Kneel and pray and do have a let go.
VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,