We Need a Little More Cross and a Little Less Empty Tomb

Jesus was beaten, tortured, and crucified and he could still ask God to forgive those who did that to him.

I sometimes think we focus so much on the empty tomb, which is awesome, that we fail to meditate adequately on Jesus on the cross.

I was thinking about this after the McCain funeral and the reaction to it on both sides. Then there's the Kavanaugh hearing. Then there's the general crop of people who have decided they hate the other side. Then there was the Gary Kasparov tweet saying no one should ever forgive anyone who supported Trump.

Jesus of Nazareth, when nailed to the cross, summoned the strength to audibly say "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). We see something similar with the first martyr, Stephen, who cried out "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60)

Neither had any footnotes, qualifications, provisos, or parameters that they'd forgive when the offending party repented. Between God and man there must be repentance. But between two men, Jesus on the cross and Stephen the martyr, there is simply forgiveness.

The innocent man Jesus of Nazareth was beaten to within an inch of his life, tortured, had a crown of thorns placed on his head, and nailed to a cross. But even he could call upon God to forgive those who killed him. Stephen was stoned to death and cried out to God with his last breath to forgive his murderers. There was no "God forgive them, but only if they first apologize." There was forgiveness.

If you really think you cannot forgive someone, you are saying that what they did to you was worse than crucifying Jesus. And if you really believe that, you don't know what really happened that day in Jerusalem when the sky went dark.

So if you are really incapable of forgiving, ponder the cross and Jesus's words.

We, individually, get eternity because of the empty tomb. We should not undermine the empty tomb or cast aside its importance for us. But we should not forget the cross and what it means to us as brothers and sisters on this planet. The empty tomb shows our eternal relationship with God. Yes, we must repent and we must believe and we will have eternal life.

But the cross shows how we should relate to each other. Father, forgive them. If you refuse to forgive them, you are letting them control you. We should not preach and teach the empty tomb at the expense of the cross right now in this environment. The empty tomb is everything. But so is Christ upon the cross.

Forgiveness does not mean you must like the person or trust the person. But it does mean you must relinquish their power over you. It does mean you must move on.

We could all stand to use a little more grace in how we deal with others, particularly in these times of heated political discourse. I tell my kids often what I will tell you -- always be more forgiving and show more grace than you should ever expect anyone else to show you.

We are all sinners. We are all going to screw up. We are all going to hurt others and cause strife. We are sinners. None of us are innocent like Christ on the cross. He could forgive. Stephen could forgive. They could forgive without proviso, contingency, or condition.

Are we of more importance than them? No. So we should all be more full of grace than we are.

Comments
No. 1-7
prolifeRN
prolifeRN

This is why Catholics preserve the use of the crucifix, as opposed to the empty cross. The crucifix is a stark reminder of the ugliness Jesus endured for our sakes. It's more convicting. Our sins are also ugly, and it's an aspect of our fallen nature to not want to be reminded of what they cost Him. We were bought at a price. We are not in a position to withhold forgiveness. Good reflection, thanks Erick.

lee hinnant
lee hinnant

Erick....So God can require acknowledgement of wrong, remorse, repentance, and turning away from sin, as acceptance of his continuing offer of forgiveness. But men cannot. Men must simply forgive, unconditionally, without any of those things. So men must be more righteous, more merciful, more holy, than God. There is an astounding theology. I have failed to comprehend that in my reading of the Bible.

Tiredofthelies
Tiredofthelies

Can't disagree with anything you just said. Of course, forgiving someone is not the same as ignoring their life choices. Until they actually go through the steps seeking redemption, we as Christians are not to allow those lost in sin yet claiming Christ's name among us.

Still Jules
Still Jules

Erick, I hope this article means you are not still clinging to your hatred of Donald Trump because of his prior sins. I always thought that was beneath you and was saddened to see you choosing the path of blind relentless judgment of the man.

None of his supporters admired his past actions, or defended them, or engaged in any of the other alleged beliefs claimed by the Trump haters. We simply understood that people can be weak, but they can also look back on a life of sin and decide they want to be better people, and that if we have an indication that this is what Donald Trump has done our moral and civic duty is to give him the benefit of the doubt. His wife has evidently forgiven him. His children have evidently forgiven him. Who are we, who were not harmed by his sins, to continue condemning him?

I never liked the man as a person, so I can understand not liking him as a person. When I look at the person he was, I still don't like him. When I look at him now I still see things in his personality I am not crazy about. But I have found the refusal to consider that he might be forgiven for his past sins, if he has mended his ways, not only toxic to the nation but to the person withholding forgiveness. Hating someone is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.

Moving beyond that is not the same as starting to like the man, but it is a step toward stopping the contributions to domestic instability and internal conflict that hating not just the president but all who do not hate him have provided. The country has enough problems without those who truly love it adding to them because of personal animosity toward the president.

Welcome to the happier side, where we are not angry all the time. ;-)

pilot83
pilot83

Excellent article and comments