The Cross and Forgiveness
“I’ll never forgive him for what he did!” The person’s words shocked me. But you’ve probably heard similar words at some time. Some people have a hard time forgiving those who do them wrong.
|Photo: Mario A. Trejo
The Bible says, “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34, CEV).
When Jesus spoke these words, there was nothing romantic or sentimental about a cross. A cross, or stake, sunk into the ground in an upright position, was a Roman instrument of execution. It was probably introduced into Palestine around 150 years before the time of Christ. But execution on a cross wasn’t for just anyone. It was reserved for certain special people—those considered the worst criminals. This was in order to show utter contempt for the offender.
Jesus was put to death on a Roman cross in 31 A.D. He was forced to carry the cross to the place of execution. But in the Bible, Jesus never refers to the cross as being His own. It always belongs to Christ’s followers. It is always yours and mine. The cross belongs to the human race. We’ve earned it, and we deserve it. Why? Because “everyone has sinned” (Romans 5:12, CEV), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NLT). But Jesus paid the wages of sin for us, in order to give us another chance at life. Now, Jesus says to us, “And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me” (Luke 14:27, NLT).
Jesus Shows Us How
If you want to know what it means to carry your cross, just look at Jesus. Jesus carried the cross for you and me. But it is still ours. Jesus carried the cross for us to show us how to carry it. Then He hands the cross to us, and says, Now, you try it.
One of the things Jesus did while carrying the cross was to forgive others. As Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He was constantly praying for His executioners. He kept repeating, “Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, CEV).
Do you really want to be a follower of Jesus? One of the requirements of carrying the cross as a Christian is to be forgiving toward others. In fact, our own forgiveness from God is conditional upon our forgiveness of others who do us wrong. Luke 6:37 says, “Forgive others, and God will forgive you” (CEV).
But forgiveness isn’t something you can do on your own. It just isn’t human nature to be forgiving. Rather, forgiveness belongs to God, as a part of His nature (See Daniel 9:9). Ask God to give it to you. When you receive God’s forgiveness, only then will you be able to forgive others. “ ... forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT).