Today is Good Friday and as Easter arrives this Sunday, I cannot go without saying how thankful I am that Jesus came to die for me and then be resurrected on the 3rd day so that one day I will be able to spend eternity with Him. The great thing is that I don’t have to wait until I leave this world to be able to spend time with Jesus, I can do that now. He is always near and always will be and I am reminded of this when Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 31:6 which says, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Are you glad that you are able to have someone that will always be by your side in the light and through the darkness of your life? Jesus knew that he would be the one that would conquer death for all sin and he knew that in order to do that he had to die with pain and agony as the only perfect sacrifice available to do it.
Let me start with a man named Judas, chosen by Jesus to be a disciple. Judas was able to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach the gospel, yet, he would be the one to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This is another great example of how the love of money can destroy your focus on what really matters in life. Judas was able to learn from the best teacher in the history of the world, yet he allowed the world to direct his desires. See, we are a lot like Judas, because even though we know God can do amazing things for us and give us a lot of abilities and talents to use, we tend to turn our backs and run with the world instead of allowing Him to guide us. It is often said that someone had to betray Jesus in order for the sacrifice to take place, Judas was predestined to do this according to Jesus and scripture that we read in Zechariah 11:12-13 where the bargain for 30 pieces of silver was predicted and then later on in Matthew chapter 26 when it was fulfilled. So, it seems that Judas did not have the choice in the matter to betray Jesus but after he sold Jesus to die, he had the free will to ask for forgiveness at that point and Jesus would have welcomed him into the kingdom, yet sadly, he chose not to and he ended up taking his own life. Jesus will use each one of us for His purpose, when we make a mistake its our responsibility to seek forgiveness from Him.
Judas isn’t the only disciple to betray Jesus. Peter betrayed him too but he also returned to Jesus, repented and was forgiven and unlike Judas, he is in Heaven because of it. See repent and forgiveness is often overlooked when someone says that they are followers of Christ, yet think they can do whatever they want and not come back to him and ask to be forgiven. Knowing Jesus exists isn’t good enough for me, but telling others about Him and forgiving others as he forgives me is what keeps me going daily. My earthly father left when I was 4 years old, yet I forgive him because Jesus says to. Sometimes we get caught up in holding grudges that we lose sight of what a follower of Christ looks like. Love your enemies, forgive others, love your neighbor. Does any of this ring a bell? How can you say that you Love Jesus yet can’t forgive your own family or help a stranger in need? Forgive and forget is so much needed as a follower of Jesus because if we are to be Christ-like we are to do the same but when you forgive, don’t forget because in everything pray. Pray for the person that wronged you. Without prayer, how do you find strength to forgive and help the person in need?
Now let me get to Jesus on the cross. Scripture says he was unrecognizable as a human. Even though the movie Passion of the Christ does a great job at the representation of Jesus on the cross with great graphics etc. Nothing compares to what scripture actually says on what really happened that day. A man that was unrecognizable hanging on the cross with blood, sweat, and tears falling had time to forgive not once but twice with his last breaths. First, Jesus forgave the thief, hanging on a cross next to Him when he asked Jesus to forgive him for what he had done and then Jesus at that moment also promised him paradise. The other time Jesus was able to forgive on the cross was when he spoke to the father, saying “Forgive them for they not know what they are doing.” This was again one of the last breaths Jesus would take on this earth as a human and yet he continued to think of others first while in pain.
Do you forgive others daily with the breath that God has given you? Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive you for the things that you have done? If not why not? Why wouldn’t you want to follow someone that sacrificed everything for you to have the free will to accept him and to be able to have paradise for eternity with Him? What is holding you back? Do not be the one to betray Jesus today because all he wants to do is be your everything and your guide in this crazy world of sin. Accept him and show others the amazing power to forgive as he does for you. Remember Death wasn’t the end, He is very much alive today, just call on his name.
In everything that we do may we honor Jesus always, Amen.