One of the great principles of the Christian life is forgiveness. Jesus modeled this principle for us when he hung on the Cross and prayed for the very people who had put him there (see Luke 23:34). His words were so powerful and unexpected that they brought about the conversion of one of the thieves hanging on a cross next to Him. With this, Jesus gave us a key to understanding grace and forgiveness (Ephesians 2:8) when he said to the good thief; “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 24:43) Scripture teaches us that we are saved by grace and not by works and this is a perfect example of that (Romans 6:23). There was no time left for the thief to do anything in the way of making up for his sins by doing good deeds, baptism or even turning his life around. Yet Jesus told him TODAY he would be with him in paradise. It was the thief’s humble heart condition of repentance and trust that gave him instant access to eternity in heaven.
As we look at a powerful analogy of the three crosses. Jesus is in the middle, at the very center of God’s plan for redemption. So who is He? “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6)
But what is speaking out from either side of Him? On one side is Faith; the other side is Unbelief. On one side is Humility; on the other is Arrogance. Profanity speaks out of one side and reverence speaks out of the other side. These two voices continue to speak from either side of the cross even today. The World has always been divided, and always will be divided, with Christ at the center. Maybe God placed a man on each side of Jesus for this reason: one is the voice of the kingdom of this World and the other is the voice of the kingdom of God.
Because Jesus completely forgave us the day we repented and put our trust in Him, he wants us to follow his example by forgiving others. As Scripture says: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children” (Ephesians 4:32-5:1). The Bible gives us several important characteristics of the forgiveness we should have for others as believers in the Body of Christ.
- Forgiveness first comes from God. Our forgiveness of others should flow from God’s forgiveness of us (see Mark 11:25).
- Forgiveness knows no Limits. For a Christian, no wrong is too great or too small to forgive (see Matthew 18:21-35).
- Forgiveness is not Selective. You can’t choose to forgive some people and not forgive others (see Matthew 5:43-48).
- Forgiveness breaks down Walls. When you choose to forgive, you experience true freedom (see Colossians 3:12-15).