I am so ridiculously happy to be finished with the last ten days of looking at how damaged, depraved, and dysfunctional I am. As we move into these last ten days of meditation on forgiveness, I want to draw my attention back to Jesus, and specifically to his last week on earth as he approached Jerusalem and the cross. His death and resurrection are the pivotal event in all of history, so this is no light and airy subject. But as with everything, what Satan intends for destruction God transfigures into deliverance.
Let’s start this last quarter with discipleship, as observed through Christ’s disciples.
Disciples are simply followers, those who walk with a master and learn to emulate him or her. Jesus had twelve disciples during his time on earth, but all of us who claim Christ as our savior now are equally his disciples.
The scripture for today describes the aftermath of Jesus’s baptism, when God audibly declared Jesus his beloved Son. The text says that the disciples fell on their faces in terror. I never noted before that, apparently, no one else present—and a lot of other people witnessed the event too—did.
I wonder what that means? Did the others not hear the voice? Or did they hear some kind of sound, but didn’t recognize it as the enunciation of God? Were they too busy with their smartphones, taking selfies in front of John the Baptist, or texting political rants about Caesar and Herod and Pontius Pilate?
For whatever reason, they didn’t get it. Those of us who experience God in any deeper sense than tossing a superficial nod to his existence ought to be on our faces in awe and terror way more often than most of us (me included) actually are.
In Luke 9:53-55, the disciples asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy a group of people who rejected him. Jesus rebuked the disciples. That’s all the text relates, but in my mind’s eye I see Jesus rolling his eyes and shaking his head as he mutters, “You guys don’t get it either, do you?”
If God—or Jesus—wanted to destroy anyone, he’d do it himself. We’re not called to be disciples so we can become our master’s body guards or hit men or advisors. We are disciples so we can do what he did. We’re disciples so we can show a hurting and foolish and broken world what it looks like and feels like to be loved. We are to carry Christ’s love into the world, not lord his power over it.
On the cross Jesus absolved those who put him there, pleading, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Father, forgive me, for I know not what I do.
Therefore I will forgive others, who know not what they do. Because if they—and I—really knew, we’d all be on our faces in front of you.
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He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”
– Matthew 17:5-7
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With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Amazon.com. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.