Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, April 14, 2024
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,

“Father, Forgive Them”
by Jerry Miller

“…for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7b)

In just over a week, we will begin our observance of Passover this year. What a special time this is, as we recall Israel’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. Amid numerous important themes of our celebration, we recall the central theme of the sacrificed Passover lamb, whose blood purchased the redemption and freedom of the Hebrew slaves. Of course, the New Covenant Scriptures teach us clearly how the Passover redemption points to the ultimate redemption provided by Messiah Yeshua and His death on our behalf. Paul even refers to Yeshua as “Messiah, our Passover Lamb.”

Every year as Passover draws near, I spend some time reflecting on Yeshua’s sacrifice, and particularly, I think about all He went through on His way to the cross. He was rejected by His own people, brutally beaten and mercilessly mocked as He made His way to the place where He was nailed to an execution stake. Recently, when reflecting on these things, I felt the Lord highlighting the fact of how amazing it was that Yeshua went through it all without a single moment of sin. He had no harsh thoughts or words of retaliation. He did not rebuke or criticize his mockers and tormentors. He did not protest the unfairness of what was happening to Him or plead His case in self-defense. In fact, what He ultimately did say was something almost unimaginable. He spoke the words, “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34).

I believe these words were more than simply noble and touching words. They were words of great power and importance, and I suspect that the wonderful deliverance now available to us who believe—that deliverance would not be as complete as it truly is, if Yeshua had not spoken those words. Yes, it was His shed blood that ultimately paid the price for our redemption. His blood was the basis for God the Father forgiving sinful man. But Yeshua, speaking those words of forgiveness, was Yeshua the man, forgiving the very ones who had sent Him to His death. It was Yeshua releasing humanity (all who would believe) from the guilt our sin deserved. It was Yeshua releasing grace to an undeserving world.

Remember that Yeshua as a man, had the capacity to either forgive or not forgive. But He made the choice to forgive. I think we can say that Yeshua, as the victim of humanity’s hatred and sin, was not overcome by hatred. And the proof of His victory is that He spoke those words of forgiveness, even as He was nailed to a cross. Yeshua’s response to the most unfair act of human history, was to speak words that were the greatest expression of mercy and love ever spoken. Again, this was different from the Father forgiving us based on Yeshua’s shed blood. It was Yeshua the man, demonstrating the greatest act of mercy ever seen.

Think about times when you have been falsely accused, or simply misunderstood. We can so easily be tempted with anger, rage, bitterness—any number of feelings as we focus on the injustice we feel we have experienced. Yeshua must have been tempted with such thoughts, though we know He never gave into them. Yeshua experienced every temptation as fully as we experience temptation. He had the capacity to hold back forgiveness, but He chose not to. He totally overcame sin. He defeated it completely. If Yeshua had uttered a single word of retaliation or self-defense, He would have disqualified Himself from fulfilling the role of the

suffering servant described in Isaiah 53. His words of mercy were truly words of great victory and power.

I believe Yeshua’s words of forgiveness were a proclamation to the powers of darkness, that even when He was weak and abused and in agony, He would not allow satan to have any place in Him through resentment, bitterness or even self-pity. Yeshua’s words of forgiveness closed the door completely to any last possibility of sin having a place in His heart or attitudes. In fact, I believe that without those words spoken, we would not truly know if our redemption was complete. You see, Yeshua laying down His life could only have an eternal impact on humanity, if He laid it down lovingly, in the spirit of forgiveness. If not done in love, Yeshua’s sacrifice would not have been a perfect sacrifice. But His amazing words of forgiveness tell us that, even in His weakest moments, He refused to give the enemy any place in His heart. He was victorious!

So, what should this say to each of us? Yeshua’s words of mercy show us that the worst of humanity’s evil, was ultimately conquered and overpowered, by love and mercy. In forgiving, Yeshua was saying, in essence, that the evil done to Him could not defeat the love that consumed Him. Love is stronger, and it utterly overpowers evil.

Considering Yeshua and this awe-inspiring truth that He lived out, there is much for us to learn and incorporate as His followers. I believe His speaking those words of grace and forgiveness paved the way for us to walk in the same grace and forgiveness He modeled. This certainly does not come naturally to us, but by the power of His Spirit we can live in the reality of His victory—the reality of His love. Anything Yeshua did becomes something we can have the grace to do ourselves, if we will look to Him in the midst of times when we are tempted with bitterness or offense, rage or retaliation. Looking to Him in times of mistreatment or injustice, we can allow His grace and mercy to fill and enlarge our own hearts, and He brings a freshness of His incredible grace to our lives. There is no formula for walking this out. It cannot be done apart from relationship with Him—getting to know Him and His love more deeply every day. But if we will keep our eyes on Yeshua, looking to Him in those times when bitterness and unforgiveness are knocking at the door of our hearts, God can bring us into the grace of His own victory.

As we recall in this season the greatness of our redemption—the greatness of our salvation, let’s be asking the Lord for a deeper revelation and experience of Yeshua’s own heart, bringing us into a whole new level of victory and freedom.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
6 Nissan Sunday 14-Apr-24
Leviticus 14:1-12 Isaiah 33 Proverbs 15 Matthew 4 James 4