Between Palm Sunday, March 28, and Easter, April 4, is Holy Week. This is the last week in Lent. Many churches have services on Holy Thursday, April 1 and Good Friday, April 2. On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Last Supper and on Good Friday we commemorate the crucifixion. It is a very solemn time of the year.
It always feels wrong somehow to call it Good Friday – it was really a very bad day when Jesus was hung upon a cross and painfully killed like a common criminal. The goodness of the day is because Jesus died for our sins, but what a terrible price he paid.
In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) the tragedy is that the older brother did not forgive the younger brother. On the cross, Jesus asked God to “forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Luke 11:4)
Receiving the forgiveness of God only comes when we first forgive those who sin against us. Carlo Carretto writes: “We are not happy because we are unforgiving, and we are unforgiving because we feel superior to others.”
He also wrote, “Those who do not love feel superior to everyone else. Those who love feel equal to everyone else. Those who love much gladly take the lower place.”
He goes on, “… the three degrees of the spiritual life here on earth: Death for those who do not love. Life for those who love. Holiness for those who love much.”
Jesus gladly took the lower place to teach us how to do the same. This is so hard to do! Even the worst of us tend to have a kind of pride and arrogance that makes it hard for us to forgive others who have treated us wrongly. Sometimes Christians even feel superior because they know Jesus died for them! Jesus would bring us all forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. We cannot earn that, but we cannot receive it until we are willing to forgive others. May our hearts be cleansed of unforgiveness so that we may receive the love of God and enjoy a truly blessed Easter!
The Lexington Ministerial Alliance is coordinating these Minister’s Messages. Any pastor in the Alliance may submit an article. Please email your article to Rev. Linda
O’Neal, the Alliance secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org