By Brooke Holt
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34
These powerful words were some of the last words of Jesus on the cross: “Forgive them.” In complete agony, Jesus uttered this prayer to his Father, asking him to forgive the very people who nailed him to the cross. Take a moment to reflect on the last hours of Jesus’s earthly life: he was betrayed by a disciple, handed over to sinful men, beaten by soldiers, stripped of his clothing, humiliated in nakedness, handed over to be crucified, and denied by his friend three times. After severe flogging, he carried his cross, where he was nailed and suffered a shameful and excruciating death. Yet, despite all these wrongs, Jesus prayed for those who put him there.
Forgiveness is costly and painful. It requires humility and dying to self—dying to anger, revenge, and even to earthly justice. As the season of Lent begins, you are invited to a seven-week study of the last seven words of Jesus on the cross. The Crucified Life beckons you to join Jesus on the road to Calvary. This walk is not a legalistic to-do list of rules and expectations; it is a spiritual journey of fellowship and grace offered through the cross of Christ. You are invited to spiritual renewal, healing, and restoration as you walk with Jesus on this road.
This journey begins with forgiveness. In the introduction to The Crucified Life, Rev. Charlie Holt wrote, “Our greatest barrier to intimacy with God is our lack of forgiveness towards others.” Does your life lack the intimacy with God that you desire? What about hope, freedom, joy, love, grace, and forgiveness?
Think back to Jesus and his words of forgiveness. Then put yourself there, right at the foot of the cross. Do you recognize that your sin held him there? It wasn’t just the Romans or the religious leaders that rejected Jesus. It was you; it was me. As we chant in the Good Friday service, the people cried out, “Crucify, crucify him” (Luke 23:21). You are not better than those who betrayed Jesus, flogged him, beat him, stripped him, or nailed him to the cross. Like them, you are desperately in need of grace and forgiveness.
Just as Jesus forgave his persecutors on the cross that day, so he forgives all who turn to him and trust in his salvific work. He forgives you of every sin, failure, and shortcoming. He forgives your horrible thoughts, your angry temper, and your shameful secrets. He sees. He knows. And he forgives you. Jesus laid down his life so that you could be healed, set free, and forgiven. Jesus died so that you can enjoy an intimate relationship with the Father.
Are you living the Lord’s abundant grace and forgiveness? Are you extending that grace and forgiveness to others, even people who have wounded you? Each Sunday in church, we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, forgive us as we forgive others.” You are forgiven as you forgive. You are not forgiven because you forgive; however, when you receive the depths of God’s grace and forgiveness, how can you not then forgive others?
Are you ready for this crucified life? Throughout this first week of Lent, consider what it means to accept God’s grace and forgiveness and extend that grace and forgiveness to others. Consider how you can die to bitterness so that you may live again in Christ and through Christ. As Lewis Smedes wrote, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” Most of all, consider Jesus, who was faithful to forgive, faithful to die, and faithful to rise again that we might share the joy of walking with him (Hebrews 1–2, 14).
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
Comments will be approved before showing up.