Devon Dick | Forgiveness at the heart of Good Friday
Forgiveness is at the heart of the remembrance of the death of Jesus, the Christ, on Good Friday. Jesus died in order to break the dominance of sin in the world and in our lives through the embrace of forgiveness. Sin has marred the systems of the world, the environment, people in relation to God, others and nature.
Unfortunately, many people think that sinning a nuh nutten. Others perceive it as cute once a person can get away with it. And still others make a profession out of sinning whether it is contract killing, robbery, serial raping and the spreading of falsehood and lies. The dominant culture is that it is acceptable to 'spin' stories for one's benefit and one's affiliation without any regard for truth telling.
Jesus' death offers forgiveness for systemic sin and personal sins. He died so that sin will not rule the world; rule in our lives and our relationships. There are structural sins such as racism, sexism and ageism. Whenever the ethos, the procedures or laws give a serious unfair advantage and benefits based on race, gender and age, then it is wrong. Whenever there is sustained prejudice, it is wrong. Jesus having forgiven us offers us the power to overcome these principalities and powers. The writer to the Colossians states, 'And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross' (2:15). There is victory in Jesus.
It is this selfsame power that enables one to live a victorious life of overcoming temptations to put personal comforts above the needs of the mission of God or to engage in spiritual exhibitionism, or to worship false gods in order to prosper and gain fame. Once we truly repent by admitting wrongdoing, pledging never again and making a commitment to partner with others in transforming society, then the experience of a purpose filled, fulfilling and fruitful service is possible.
When Jesus on the Cross said 'forgive them for they know not what they do', it was not saying that the perpetrators were ignorant about the callous crime of murder, but rather it was that they did not understand the grave consequences of sinning. They did not understand also that they were representative of an evil system which was beyond their comprehension and that was motivating them to such gruesome acts. Furthermore, the actors in this drama of executing Jesus did not have the perception power to realise that it was through the death of Jesus that the power of death would be destroyed. Sinning is no fun sport. It is a dangerous activity.
For us to move forward, it is necessary to experience forgiveness of sin and to forgive others. The main thing is to truly repent. After the awful ball tampering by some Australian Test cricketers, the captain Steve Smith did not try to deny or excuse the action but rather own up to it and apologised. There was no talk of misinterpretation and taken out of context, just good, old-fashioned repentance. Once he has served his punishment he should be embraced. It should not be that at every Test match the ball tampering is mentioned. It would be good that such attitude be adopted among leaders in church, politics, commerce, finance, agriculture, security, medicine, nursing, etc.
An unforgiving spirit breeds resentment, bitterness and hatred. It cripples thinking and positive actions. It makes that person live the past rather than embrace the moment for good.
Let us, as we commemorate the death of Jesus this Good Friday, recognise that forgiveness is at the heart of this remembrance.