This week in the book of Mark, we will read a host of questions the disciples asked Jesus, trying to grasp the depth of truth He taught. Sometimes they were simply slow to understand, but at other times Jesus indicated they were just being stubborn: “Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?” (Mark 8:17, NKJV).
The disciples weren’t the only ones who have struggled with the depth of truth Jesus taught. We love the aspects of Jesus the Savior reconciling the world to God, of settling our debts and removing our condemnation, of bringing us into His life and giving us the word of reconciliation. But sometimes we’re not as excited about His payment for sin when we’re talking about other people’s sins against us. What about the aspect of Jesus being the reconciler—the satisfactory reconciliation—of our debtors?
Years ago, one of my best friends and co-laborers went off the deep end. It got so bad that he threatened a lawsuit against the church we had worked on together. We received legal advice and decided to pay him; it was cheaper than winning. Reluctantly, we paid. I could hardly believe I was awake during this nightmare.
Then, someone stepped in and reimbursed us. The person actually added a little more to round out the numbers. And I was faced with a soul-gouging question: “What am I going to do about forgiveness now?”
The offense had been paid in full, and then some. I couldn’t be mad about the money. It had been replenished. I couldn’t even be mad about our relationship, because now that I wasn’t distracted with the small stuff, I could see the bigger picture: the pain of my friend, the self-inflicted suffering he was enduring and the triumph of our “true enemy,” who erroneously thought he had beaten both of us.
Two thousand years ago, there was that one sacrifice on the cross, and God counted it satisfactory for all time.
So, what about us? Will we respond like God? Will Jesus’ one payment be enough? Or will we still struggle to withhold what was perfectly done? If we see forgiveness as a work completely accomplished—sin settled and a little more—then we will grant it, immediately, with or without other people’s apologies, and be free to see things as they are.
To this day, I have never been asked by my friend for forgiveness. However, I smile when I see him in church and working alongside us again in full restoration, because I profited from my experience with him, in so many ways.
Jesus is the reconciler of all our trespasses and all the trespasses done against us. So the next time you’re pushed and shoved—and there will always be a next time, because people always will be people—forgive freely and quickly. You can be sure there’s profit in it for you!
By: Cere Muscarella, senior pastor at Life Church in Angleton, Texas
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