Words modeling growth on the cross

Posted Apr 16, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Luke 23:33-34, 47

33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.


47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.”

Reflection Questions

Luke recorded Jesus' amazing prayer, asking God to forgive the soldiers who were nailing him to the cross. As far as we can tell, the soldiers, more used to curses and screams of pain, just went about their grim business. Still, Jesus' prayer (exemplifying his conduct during his hours on the cross) registered. The centurion in charge of the crucifixion, who had likely seen many other convicts die, clearly saw Jesus' inner purity.

  • Pastor Hamilton wrote, “More than any other world religion, Christianity teaches, preaches, veritably shouts forgiveness. Yes, some of our preachers dwell too long on guilt…. a Christianity obsessed with guilt is no Christianity. Christianity is a faith whose central focus is not guilt, but grace, redemption, healing, forgiveness, and mercy.”* How did Jesus' nurture his ability to forgive? In what ways have you grown in making forgiveness a transforming, freeing practice?
  • Jesus had taught the kind of behavior he showed (cf. Luke 6:27-28). But we all know what a gap can sometimes exist between words and actions. In later reflection, the letter to the Hebrews suggested that even Jesus had to learn and grow (cf. Hebrews 5:7-8). If Jesus in his humanity needed to grow, clearly all of us do, too. What steps toward growth has this Lenten season inspired you to take?


Transform. Each day you have committed to reading Scripture and reflecting on its impact in your life. How has that practice shaped you? In your journal, write a passage that has been transformative for you.


Dear Jesus, you gave your all to forgive, accept and love me as your child. Help me grow my capacity to give my all every day as I gratefully live out what you’ve done for me. Amen.

* Hamilton, Adam. Forgiveness (p. 17). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

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Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise serves as the Early Childhood Coordinating Assistant at Church of the Resurrection.

From the cross Jesus asked God, “Forgive them, Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Even as He was being nailed to the cross, Jesus asked forgiveness for the people who were crucifying Him. In doing so Jesus displayed His true character.

As a Christian, I know that no matter what I do Jesus will forgive me if I ask. I don’t doubt that I am forgiven, even when I am asking for forgiveness for the same thing that Jesus and I have talked through a few (or many) times before. My confidence in that mercy keeps me from becoming completely overwhelmed by my own badness. 

In addition to asking for forgiveness from Jesus again and again, I have often found myself asking for that same compassion from people in my life. More often than not, these are small infractions that haven’t caused great damage, but nevertheless in some way I have wronged another person and seek their forgiveness.

On occasion, I find myself on the other side of the conversation--I am being asked to forgive someone for something they have done to me. I can’t think of a single time when I have had someone apologize that I haven’t assured them that I accept their apology and all is well. But is it really? Do I truly forgive them? Or do I hold on, just a little, to a grudge for what was done? I will let you in on a little secret--sometimes I hold on. Really tight. And, rest assured, I’m not proud of it. 

In much the same way as we are able to see the true character of Jesus in His desire to forgive from the cross, our own character can be revealed in how we forgive others. Offering a genuine, sincere, no holds barred “you are forgiven” commits us to wiping the slate clean, spotlessly sparkling shiny clean.

Truly forgiving provides a fresh start, with no shadow of past wrongdoing laying like a cloud over future encounters. In genuinely forgiving others, we show a small glimpse of Jesus in our actions. We help those we care for not become overwhelmed by their badness. Equally importantly, truly forgiving another person requires us to completely honor our words. If I have promised you mercy, I must grant it. No take backs, no digging it up if the same conversation has to happen again, no "here we go again"... Jesus doesn’t take away the mercies He grants us, regardless of how often we have revisited the same issue, and we can’t either. After all, in truly forgiving others, we too display our true character.

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