Sunday, August 31, 2014

Woman, behold your son IX

A significant part of our perception of a person’s greatness is our sense of their approachability. I am not alone in believing Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest man in western civilization. Yet all with whom he interacted were impressed with how common he was. He had the speech patterns of someone born deep within the frontier—which he was. His laugh was unrestrained. And his looks—“more like a gorilla than a man.

He loved being with the simple people, for that’s what he was. The important people who surrounded him during his presidency were hugely annoyed that Lincoln insisted on listening and talking to anyone who came to see him. When he tipped his hat to a newly freed slave, this was seen as an unacceptable political gaffe.

The disciples, as common as they were, did not understand why their Lord gave His valuable time to a Samaritan woman, to children, and to every beggar who hollered His name.

In Lincoln’s time, it was the poor and the needy who recognized his greatness. We read that those who met with him spoke of their encounter until the day they died.  “He was just like the rest of us,” they would say with great pride.

Imagine being Mary. Imagine her joy and her pride in Him after His death and resurrection and ascension as she came to understand exactly who it was that she had raised. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Woman, behold your son VIII

My wife is not impressed with how impressed I am with important people. Obviously I’m not alone. Most everyone likes to be near a great sports star, or statesman, or a famous preacher. Dogs don’t care. They don’t care if the person they are with is the president of the United States or a bum on skid row. Only people care about importance.

I wonder if the Lord’s mother could quite understand how important her Son was? She knew Him intimately as a tiny baby, then as a toddler, then as a young child…I wonder if she could see Him as anyone but her son, so very human and, at one time, so very dependent upon herself?

The Westminster Creed tells us “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” As God incarnate, the Lord Jesus was all glorious; and a person with understanding would recognize this and worship Him for who He was.

Perhaps Jesus was reproachful to His mother because He was helping her see Him for all that He was—the One to be worshipped and thus, enjoyed forever.

All good moms eventually lose their sons.  Sons have to be their own persons, apart from their mothers. Mary may have lost that special relationship with her Son that only a mother can have with her child, but, so much better, she could have her Son forever, just as all who come to Him can have Him forever. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mother, behold your son. VII

Religious ferver, in fact any type of ferver, can make people morally imbalanced. As people living in this world, we have certain obligations to others.

As a son, our Lord had obligations to His mother which He did not disregard. Interestingly, His very first miracle was done at the prompting of His mother despite the fact that His "hour had not yet come."

We know itinerant preachers who, "for the sake of the gospel," neglected their families. We know the bitterness this has caused their children.

From my earliest years, I have known fervent Christians who in their zeal have left miles of flatsom in their wake. 

If you are not a kind person, guess what? You are nothing for the Lord. I Cor 13:3

Our Lord gave up everything when He went to the cross. But He did not give up His obligations to His mother. Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." And from that hour on, the disciple took her to his own home.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Woman, behold your son VI

In a good situation, a mother has no needs, wants, hopes, obligations, or anything at all that she might possibly claim a right to that does not become secondary to the nurturing of her child.

Of course the same was true for the mother of our Savior.

What an incredible privilege it was for Mary to be chosen to be this mother. No mother ever had such a child to put her life into.

Nonetheless, every instance that we read of in the Gospels where the Lord Jesus was interacting with His mother, we see Him distancing Himself from her. Three times He reproves her: “Did you not know…?”  “Woman what does this have to do with me?” “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

While on the cross He does not call her mother, He calls her woman.

Did Jesus not love His mother? Was she not unique and special in His life? Did He not like every son ever brought up by a good mother have certain obligations of affection for her?

We can only surmise what feelings our Lord had for His mother. But we know for certain that He was her kind and gracious Savior, just as He is the kind and gracious Savior of all who come to Him.

We also know that in the midst of His suffering on the cross, He was concerned to make provision for her, both materially and maternally for He said to her, “Woman, behold your son.” And to the disciple whom He loved, “Behold your mother.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Woman, behold your son V

It seems to me that John was way over the top when he kept referring to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Obviously, Jesus loves everybody, right? The first song children all over the world learn to sing is, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Well, maybe the Bible tells me so.

We do know that God so loved the world--the world, of course, includes all of us. And Jesus is God incarnate. But when Scripture speaks of those who Jesus specifically loves, it only mentions the rich young ruler; Mary, Martha and Lazarus; the one disciple whom we assume is John; and "His own who are in the world."

Who are "His own?" 

A loved one is always someone who can be counted upon. One of the first things that happened when I was falling in love with the woman who was to become my wife was we started counting upon each other. If she said she would meet me some place, she would never stand me up. If she made a request of me, I was overjoyed to comply.

When Jesus let John know that He wanted him to take care of His mama, we read, "from that very hour the disciple took her to his home."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Woman, behold your son IV

John seemed to characterize himself as a “favorite” of Jesus. He regularly describes himself in his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He speaks of himself as resting on Christ's bosom during the last supper. In these words of Christ, he is even elevated to the position of replacing Jesus in the family.

I wonder how the other disciples responded to John's view of himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” Did they balk at this description? Were they upset when John insisted on taking in Mary?

In John 21:21, Peter asks Christ about John. To this Jesus answers, “what is that to you?” Peter has been charged with his own task of “feeding the sheep,” he need not worry about John.

I try to view myself as a favorite of Jesus, too. This does not mean to me that He loves others any less. But it does mean that I see myself as especially responsible to Him. I think the title “the disciple that Jesus loved” is one we all might wish to bare.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Woman, behold your son III

The angel Gabriel proclaimed Mary, the mother of our Lord, to be the favored one and the Scriptures tell us, "She was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be."

That seems like an odd reaction. One would understand her being frightened at seeing an angel. But what is one to make of her being frightened of being called favored?

Was her fear because Mary understood from the Scriptures that all whom God favored were also those who went through great trials and through great sorrow?

Who was more favored than King David? Yet read his piteous laments in the Psalms. And Joseph, the glorious, honored and weeping son of Jacob; And Moses, friend of God, burdened with the wandering multitude of malcontents.

"Woman, behold your son," said the Lord Jesus. Mary beheld her son: beaten, scorned, spat upon and high and lifted up as the Almighty Conqueror of Sin and Death.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Woman, behold your son II

Our Lord Jesus was on a heavenly mission when He went to the cross. What He did on the cross had eternal value far beyond measure.

Because of the cross His mother lost a son. That might be very sad, but because she lost this Son, she gained eternal life, just as every person who comes to Him gains salvation because of what He did on the cross.

But beyond all this, our Lord had compassion on the temporal needs (and heartbreak) of His mother.

He directed the disciple "whom He loved"
to take His mother as his own mother; which he did, taking her home with him from that very hour.

How comforting it is to know that our Lord is concerned and compassionate about our very temporary earthly needs.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Woman, behold your son I

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother."

We know the beloved disciple is trusting in the Savior. But isn't it a marvelous thought that Savior is trusting in John?

How wonderful to marvel at this sacred trust. Now as the Sovereign One, Jesus could easily provide for His earthly mother by employing heavenly hosts. However, He elects a human follower. He entrusts His mother into the care of a beloved and trusted disciple. What a privilege to be trusted with this earthly responsibility.

As a sovereign, Jesus could easily evangelize the world by employing heavenly hosts. However He elects human followers. He entrusts the evangelization of the gospel into the care of beloved and trusted disciples. What a privilege to be trusted with this earthly responsibility. I know most of us are trusting in the Savior. I wonder if the Savior is trusting in us?

Mitch Triestman

Friday, August 22, 2014

Today you will be with me XV

When I was a kid I watched my uncle twice scam my father. Against his better judgment, twice my father invested in pyramid schemes. It wasn’t that my uncle was deliberately scamming my dad. My uncle was a great believer. He was utterly sure that this latest scheme would be his (and my father’s) pathway to riches.

We humans are great believers. I’m not sure why. Is it because of peer pressure? Others believe it, so we don’t want to be left out?

I went to a church one time that showed a series films by an end-times preacher. The last film was a detailed description of how Armageddon would be set in motion by Saddam Hussein. But when the film was shown, Saddam was already in his spider hole. After the film everyone in our church expressed enthusiasm for the insightfulness of this preacher.

I went to a Pentecostal revival meeting where the preacher proclaimed half the congregation healed, but they weren’t. So the next night, they all came back to be healed again.

Our Lord Jesus deals only in the truth. He proclaimed Himself the Truth. Real Believers believe real things.

We have an obligation to be Believers in the Truth. If we believe everything that comes along, we are not truly Believers.

The thief on the cross believed the Truth. Because he believed the truth, that very day he was in Paradise with his Savior. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today you will be with me XIV

The word translated truly (or verily) is the Hebrew, and then Greek word, amen. For the last three millennium amen has been used in a liturgical fashion by Jewish people in response to a blessing. It means “we agree with this, we receive this as God’s truth for us.”

Amen is a required conclusion of any Christian prayer. If someone publicly prays and we don’t hear an “amen” we wonder it the prayer still has more to say.  (Though for some curious reason, I have a son-in-law who refuses to conclude his prayers with either an, “In Jesus name” or an “amen.”)

When my son who was sixteen was wondering about the truth of his parents’ faith, I asked an atheist friend to talk with my son and tell him exactly why he came to the conclusion that Christianity was not true. He looked at me like I was some sort of an abusive father. “I would never do that,” he said. "Can you even begin to understand the suffering and the rejection I’ve experienced since I left the faith?” I expressed sympathy for his suffering but I said, “The truth is the truth. If the belief system in which we raised our son is not valid, I want him to have the opportunity to find that out. “

 “I would never do that to your son,” he told me.

Our Judeo-Christian heritage puts an emphasis on truth unique among religious systems. The truth may hurt, excruciatingly at times. But even the harshest truths can work out for the good, for God is good.

To that second thief on the cross Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.”

I’m guessing that second thief was Jewish. So did he then respond to what Jesus said to him with an amen?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today you will be with me XIII

“Do you not fear God?” asked the one thief to the other.

I’ve heard that people of every place and every culture have an awareness and a fear of God.

I’m not sure that’s true.

In the news this morning I read of the beheading of another American journalist by the Islamists. Supposedly these are particularly God aware people, who are willing to do absolutely anything to gain His favor. I don’t believe it. I believe these people are willing to do absolutely anything, but I think this willingness is because they do not have any awareness of God. They are only aware of each other. They will do anything because they have worked themselves into a state of group frenzy.

I wonder if a better question the one thief could have asked the other would have been, “Do you not fear what others might think of you even at this very moment while you are hanging on this cross receiving the worst that others can do to you?”

"Fear of man is a snare," wrote Solomon. It's a snare because it so often overwelms any fear we might have of God.

The one thief actually did fear God for he was aware of His very Presence at that very moment. This awareness, this fear, this faith, was what elicited the response from God Himself in the Person of His Son, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today you will be with me XII

I marvel that the second thief was aware of his own culpability, showing that his human conscience had not yet been seared. Not only did He know of his guilt, he readily confesses it.

It seems with most people, the more they are convinced they are wrong, the more vehemently they argue they are right. 

Also I wonder about the second thief's testimony in regards to the character of Jesus. Was he privy to the events of this itinerant teacher? Had he heard of the miracles? Or perhaps he had been present to observe a healing or feeding first hand. He could have been in the crowd that heard a sermon, or observed a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees.

I have observed frequently how the presence of the Holy Spirit in a Believer is recognized by unbelievers. Obedience to the Supernatural is provoking to the natural man. And since the power and persona of God can be convicting to others through our lives, how much much much more would the Son of the Highest exude the Eminence. 

And if this malefactor could discern the uniqueness that belongs to Jesus, how condemning is this to the others?

Those who did observe the miracles of those fed and those healed—surely some of them were in this mocking and spitting crowd.

Mitch Triestman 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Today you will be with me XI

The thief said to Jesus “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” What did the thief really know about salvation? From the text, we have no reason to assume that he knew much of anything.

The profession of faith made by the thief on the cross is fairly weak. If someone offered this “prayer” at a gospel meeting we would try to clarify the gospel for them to make sure they understood. If the testimony of saying “remember me” was all we had to go on, we would likely doubt the legitimacy of his salvation. If an evangelist asked him the question “how do you know you are saved? there is no way he would get a pass by  answering “I asked Jesus to remember me when He comes into His kingdom.” What about sin, sacrifice, atonement, faith, grace, etc? And yet this thief is one of the few people in Scripture that the Bible insists is in “paradise.”

Although the thief seemed to have only a remedial understanding of the gospel, he does have one of the greatest testimonies of repentance ever. He is the only person I know of who may have never sinned after being saved.

Some people question their salvation and will look back to their moment of profession for confirmation. They will review the doctrines just to make sure that they really get it. Maybe instead they should just stop living like a sinner.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Today you will be with me X

I like how our Lord Jesus so often prefaces what He says with “truly.” Or, as in John’s gospel, “truly, truly.”

When talking with friends, I often say before I start a story, “Now this is the truth.” My wife tells me I say this because there have been times when she thinks I have embellished my stories, and now finally I am planning to tell the truth. I explain to her that I say, “this is the truth,” because the story that will follow is especially interesting and thought provoking.

Of course all that our Lord said was interesting and thought provoking, but, generally, whatever followed His “truly” was something only Someone who was Deity, could legitimately say: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Truly I say to you, as you did not do to the least of these, you did not do it to me.” “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today you will be with me IX

Of course, the paradise the Lord Jesus promised the one thief meant heaven: a distinct place beyond our cosmos filled with the presence of the Lord and all His holy angels. And though with our earthly brains and experiences, heaven is incomprehensible, that certainly does not lessen its reality.

At the same time, eternal Life (seemingly used in Scripture interchangeably with the idea of heaven) begins at the moment  of salvation. The one thief passed from death unto eternal Life while on he was on the cross. And His Life continued through his physical death on the cross.

For me this reinforces the Believer’s understanding of the truth of eternal security.

If, as been suggested earlier, when the Lord Jesus said “today you will be with me in paradise,” and today could be interpreted as meaning, “at this very moment;” when our Lord gives eternal Life to a needy soul, it is unthinkable that He would, at some later moment, take back this gift of eternal Life which has already been part of his present reality. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Today you will be with me VIII

The earthly circumstances of the one thief on the cross did not change even the tiniest bit when the Lord Jesus spoke to him. He was still in horrible circumstances. It was like God did nothing at all for him. But, of course, he was actually in a better than wonderful situation. He realized he was right next to the very Lord Jesus who told him he would be in Paradise with Him today.

In yesterday's devotional blog, Mitch suggested that "today" actually meant at that very moment. I think Mitch is correct. I think it makes what Jesus said make the most sense.

Earthly circumstances change so very quickly. And, regardless of our circumstances, they may or may not give us peace or joy. It all depends--on something quite other than our circumstances.

For this thief to know that he was accepted and loved by God as He was so beautifully manifested in His Son, was paradise.

Guaranteed, despite the excruciating pain, he felt joy and peace, and triumph!

Perhaps he cried out, years before the Apostle Paul, "Oh death, where is your sting?"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Today you will be with me VII

How are we to understand this?

The day ended at sundown and whatever you believe Paradise to be, wherever you think Paradise might be, it would be difficult to construct a scenario that would explain how this thief could possibly arrive there with the Lord before the sun set. The Syriac version of the Greek Scriptures renders the phrase with “from this moment you will be with me in Paradise.”

Is there a stronger evidence of the fact that we are not saved by works?

There was no baptism, no holy communion, no sacraments, no Sabbath keeping, no kosher keeping, no tithing, or church or synagogue attendance or commitment. If there was repentance, it wasn't of works or deeds.

Now you might question my assessment of the thief's salvation. But I am not the one who declared him to be on his way to Paradise.

That declaration wasn't made by a local clergyman. It wasn't a church official. It wasn't a elder or deacon or bishop or cardinal. The man who declared this thief to be saved has the highest spiritual credentials. And if this malefactor was indeed instantly and supernaturally saved on the basis of his confession and testimony, then we can all be saved without works, without waiting, without worthiness and without worry. 

Mitch Triestman

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Today you will be with me VI

We have been considering the words spoken by Christ while He is on the cross. In Luke 23 we get an account, as well, of several words spoken to Christ while He is on the cross: "He saved others, let Him save Himself." "If you are the King of the Jews save yourself." "Are You not the Christ, save Yourself and us." "Jesus remember me." Jesus was subject to mockery from the rulers, the soldiers and at least one criminal, yet He said nothing to any of them. It was the repentant sinner alone that received a response from Christ. 

I have had people say mean things to me before. I am sure at the time there were people who disagreed with them. Likely, someone supported me and took my side. But I don't remember that part. I was fixated on the insult and abuse. 

I am impressed by the grace that flowed from the lips of Jesus. But I am also amazed by the grace of His ears as well.  


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Today you will be with me V

I’m  a bit of a loner. I can only be around people for so long. Then I have to get away by myself. 

But I’m quick to feel lonely.

That’s a dilemma. I’m a loner who doesn’t like to be alone.

As the years have gone by in our marriage, more and more my wife and I find contentment in being alone—together. To give a different take on Billy Joel’s song, being with my wife is “better than being alone.” (Or did his song say, "drinking alone?" Regardless, being with my wife is better.)

A distinction of the gospel of Luke is all the single connections our Lord made with people—including the one thief. He promise him, “You will be with me in paradise.”

To be alone with the Lord Jesus for all eternity--it sounds like paradise to me!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Today you will be with me IV

The one thief was saved while he was on the cross.

Everyone who gets saved is saved in the same way, but there are as many ways of coming to salvation as there are people who have been born.

The one thief saw himself as deserving condemnation. He also desired to be pardoned. And, of course, he desired to be other than he was. He believed that God was full of loving kindness, and I think he may have even understood what the Lord Jesus was doing (at that very moment!) would justly satisfy this loving but absolutely righteous God. And finally he knew he needed to ask for this salvation, which he did.

Just like the rest of us who have received salvation.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today you will be with me III

There are certain people that I really like to be with. And there are some people who I don't mind being with. Some people I have to work very very hard to be with.

Of course, that works in both directions. There are a few people who are always delighted to have me around--but not very many. And there are a few people who I know to stay away from for I don't want to ruin their day.

The one thief on the cross asked the Lord Jesus just to remember him when He came into his kingdom--like Joseph asked Pharaoh's cupbearer to remember him when he returned to his place in the palace. The cupbearer did remember Joseph, though it took him a couple of years

Jesus promised the thief much better than he asked, "Today (this very day!) you will be with me in paradise.

Sometimes I'm a little bit embarrassed to be me. That's part of the reason I sometimes don't want to be around certain people. But I would really like to be with Jesus. I won't be causing Him any unpleasant surprises as He gets to know me for He already knows me, perfectly. Same with the one thief. The Lord Jesus knew him. He knew Him perfectly and He wanted him to be with Him in paradise which is forever.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Today you will be with me II

I have a friend who is a judge who told me, "I really believe people are basically pretty good."
I have a tendency to agree with him, but I know it's not true. Typically most of us are only half-heartedly good. And some of us who go all out to be good, sometimes end up being very bad.

The one thief on the cross knew what he did and he knew what he deserved. "We are receiving the due reward for our deeds," he said.

But though he knew his non-goodnesss, for some reason he understood that with God there was hope. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

From a bad man, who knew he was a bad man, this was an audacious request. But our Lord Jesus granted it to him.

My friend the judge who represents the law, is obligated to give jail sentences to those who break the law, regardless of how well he thinks of them.

The Lord Jesus, as the Son of God who bore the law upon Himself, had the authority not only to grant the criminal pardon, but paradise!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Today you will be with me I

The one thief on the cross was shockingly perceptive. While the crowds around the crosses were ignorant, while his partner on the cross on the other side of Jesus was humorous, the one thief thoughtfully considered the situation and understood. To this man next to him, suffering horribly and beaten beyond recognition, just like himself, he said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom."

How could he have possibly figured out at that time, at that place, that Jesus was the Conquering King coming into His Kingdom?

The Lord Jesus highly honored this man's very honest intelligence, "Truly, I say to you, today you will you be with me in paradise!"

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not XIII

My life is a series of episodes of profound ignorance. Ironically, I know this. Yesterday I climbed on a Ferris-wheel at a county fair with two kids and three tickets, not realizing that the ride required four tickets apiece. I seemed to be the only person who made this mistake. How can everyone else just naturally know these things?

As was discussed, a great measure of ignorance is required to kill the Son of God. This may be, perhaps, the most profound act of ignorance in the history of the world. Yet Israel did not think they were ignorant. Israel seemed to think they knew exactly what they were doing. They even went so far as to request that they be held responsible for the death of Jesus (Matt.27:25).

It was mentioned that we do not have a lot of examples of people asking for forgiveness in Scripture. Maybe they don't ask for forgiveness because they don't realize what they did. Ignorant people are not only ignorant, but they are often ignorant of their ignorance.

As sinners, we are all ignorant. None of us realize the significance of our sin. We may like to think of ourselves as the blind given sight, but we still live in ignorance, missing the mark without knowing it. A characteristic of being forgiven is not that we have risen above being ignorant, but rather we have learned just how ignorant we might be.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not XII

The first time we see the word forgive in the Scriptures is at the end of the days of the Patriarchs. Joseph is reminded that the father (Jacob) had commanded before he died that Joseph is to forgive his brethren. The brethren (Israel) had rejected the favored son and delivered him over to the Gentiles.

The next occasion is when Pharaoh, after the horror of the locust plague, calls for Moses and Aaron and confesses to them, "I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you." He then begs them to entreat the “LORD your God” to stop the plague. The LORD is Israel's God, not the God of Pharaoh.

We read about Solomon praying for the nation to be forgiven in the future. We hear both Moses and Daniel plead for forgiveness for the nation. And Jesus cries out for their forgiveness as well.

We are commanded to forgive and we are instructed to pray for forgiveness. God promises to forgive the nation. Upon confession, He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.

Only once in all the Scriptures do we discover a man in prayer saying the words "forgive me.” Those words were written by David in the 25th Psalm

It’s easy to ask the Lord to forgive others. I don’t even find it that difficult to forgive those who have trespassed against me. But for me to ask for forgiveness!--that would be to acknowledge my guilt and to admit that I’m the one who is in the wrong.

Mitch Triestman

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not XI

I have never had someone come up to me spontaneously and tell me he forgave me. When I was in college I had  friend who was so forgiven. He was forgiven for his arrogance and for his bad manners and, it seems, for his very existence. 

Like Daniel, he was not impressed. 

I liked this kid. I let him know I liked him. He was odd. He had no social skills. But those are qualities that don't require forgiveness.

Curiously, it is often things that are not our fault which cause us the most guilt--or cause others to see us as guilty: things like not catching a baseball, or having a sick child, or missing a church meeting because of helping someone in need, or not being joyful in times of tragedy.

How thankful I am to be forgiven by the One who knows what my true needs are for forgiveness, and who is faithful and just to forgive my sin and to cleanse me of all my unrighteousness.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not X

Generally speaking, I am not looking for forgiveness. More often than not, when someone tells me that they have “forgiven me” my natural disposition falls somewhere between annoyance and bemused indifference. “Oh, well that's very gracious of you to have become unnecessarily offended with me, held on to that grudge for years, then benevolently pronounced me 'forgiven.' How very big of you.” Bestowing forgiveness is something we often use to level the playing field. Someone does something I don't like. Then I get to hold it against them until I deem them worthy of my forgiveness.

Jesus asked the Father to forgive Israel for crucifying Him. It is interesting to consider, however, that Jesus does not tell Israel that He, personally, forgives them. Why not? It is not that Jesus did not forgive them Himself, but rather He did not seem to view forgiveness with the same sense of self-aggrandizing empowerment as the rest of us might have. Even though He is the One being killed, He seems to see it no more His place to offer forgiveness than it is to have taken offense.

I understand that God, in His justice, has grounds to be “offended” by mankind. And I understand that through the mercy of the Father and the humility of the Son, these offenses are not always held against us.

But regarding ourselves: rather than graciously offering forgiveness to each other, perhaps we should be humble enough to not take offense in the first place.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not IX

It’s been taking me a long time to learn, but I’ve figured out that I can figure myself out.  I know when I’m about to do something that will later require me to seek forgiveness.

The Lord Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But those who crucified Him should have known what they were doing. They did not need to get caught up with the whim of the mob. They did not need to forget about the miraculous evidence that Jesus gave which demonstrated His deity. And as human beings, they could have had compassion.

God was so gracious. All those who were demanding that the Lord Jesus be crucified, but who at Pentecost realized their guilt, God forgave.

The Apostle Paul himself claimed ignorance as a reason for his pre-conversion behavior. (I Tim 1:13)

As Believers, let us do everything we can to not behave ignorantly. As Paul writes in Romans 6:1 & 2 “Shall we continue to sin that grace (forgiveness) may abound? God forbid!” 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not VIII

I was a lousy father to my oldest son. The fact that I was, I believe, a very good father to my other three children does not lessen my guilt. If anything, it compounds it.

Not surprisingly, my son became wayward. Though there were other factors involved in his waywardness, my poor fathering caused my son to be bitter and skeptical of authority. He could not tolerate the slightest whiff of hypocrisy.

But one day my son was thinking about how contemptuous several of his friends were of their fathers. And he decided this was not how he was going to be, and he forgave me.

What that meant was that he took the initiative to form a relationship with me. Like an odd twist of the prodigal son, he came back to me with a respect and an appreciation far beyond what I deserve.

I don't know what my problem was as a dad. More than anything, I did want to be a good father to my son. Regardless, nowadays, every time I think of my son, I am so very thankful. Always when we talk, I feel so happy. Here is the son I had lost who now is found.

Some people say, "I'll forgive, but I can never forget." But if you ever talk to my son, I guarantee he will tell you he holds nothing against me. I think he may even tell you what a great dad he has.

Even better than my son is our Heavenly Father, who forgives, and removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west. And then shows us "the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness to us through Christ Jesus."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Father, forgive them for they know not VII

Forgive Them
Israel's national sin is unforgiveable
They rejected the Kingdom
 (Mat 12:32)
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, or in the world to come.
 and crucified the King
(Mat 27:25)
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
This sin is not to be forgiven in the world (this world) ( age, or dimension ) within which the crime was committed
nor in the age or dimension to come
but God's unending mercy endures through all dimensions
(Psa 100:5)
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
and in reply to the Son's plea and as predicted in prophecy there is an age when Israel will stand pardoned for the unpardonable
(Lev 26:40)If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; ..................
(Lev 26:42)Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
This confessed sin is expressed as a singular crime although it was twofold in both rejecting King and Kingdom.
We read of the singular committed and confessed and forgiven crime again in Isaiah 40:2
(Isa 40:2)Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
And again in Jeremiah
(Jer 3:13)Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
And again in Hosea
(Hos 5:15)
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
In Hosea their confession is prompted by great tribulation and results in the return of the Lord.
Israel commits an unspeakable and unpardonable crime and only after suffering tribulation becomes willing to admit to the transgression, and the merciful rejected King forgives and receives them
How much tribulation must one endure before the old sin nature gives up and confesses unpardonable crimes?
And will the pardoned criminal find the forgiving face of mercy at his confession?

Mitch Triestman