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Debt Free

• Greg Boyd

When Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them …” he was expressing the radical love of the Father that extends forgiveness to all the world. While such an expression of forgiveness is far from typical, it contains the ability to heal, transform hearts and release people to forgive others.

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As Jesus is hanging naked and humiliated, dying on the cross, he prays for the forgiveness of all his executioners. “Father, forgive them…” It very well could be the most amazing, beautiful and important prayer in the Bible. The questions raised by Jesus’ prayer include: Can we believe that Jesus expresses the Father’s heart when he prays this prayer? Can we believe the Father answers this prayer? Can we believe the God’s forgiveness extends to all? And can we ourselves learn to forgive like this?

In the New Testament, there are kinds of “forgiveness.” The first refers to a release of debt that does not require the other party to acknowledge or receive the release. The second involves reconciliation, which cannot happen unless the offending party repents and asks for forgiveness. The first is unconditional, but the second cannot be experienced unless both parties are complicit.

Many people think all forgiveness is conditional, that God doesn’t forgive unless you repent and we shouldn’t forgive unless the offending party repents. If this is so, then Jesus’ prayer makes no sense. It would imply that every single sin you commit remains unforgiven until you repent of it.

Unforgiveness is rooted in a demonic illusion. While it feels empowering, but it’s actually dis-empowering and destructive. By refusing to release a debit, you’re surrendering the keys to your own freedom and well being over to the other person. We should extend unconditional forgiveness to all because it’s good for us, but even more fundamentally, we do so because this is how god forgives us. God’s forgiveness is unconditional and extends to all, not just to those who repent.

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Topics: Forgiveness, Love, Reconciliation, Relationships, Repentance

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 23:26-34

    As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then
    “ 'they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!"
    and to the hills, “Cover us!” '
    For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
    Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

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3 thoughts on “Debt Free

  1. kevin says:

    Matthew 6:14-16 tells another story; how does this scripture fit into the unconditional statement from the cross?

  2. Nicole says:

    This one brought tears from my soul. I had two abortions back in the mid 70’s and, although I have already been forgiven, this brought me to tears.

  3. Jim LePage says:

    Hey Kevin – Greg just recently wrote an article about this as well that may help.

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