Easter means chocolate eggs, Easter egg hunts, and spring break to some people. But for many others, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of Christ" gave us a realistic-maybe too realistic- depiction of what Jesus went through prior to and during the crucifixion.
We've seen versions of the crucifixion many times in a variety of movies. The unjustified brutality can elicit anger and hate for the Roman soldiers and religious leaders who inflicted pain and suffering on a man who only expressed love and kindness. The people chose the criminal Barabbas for freedom and the sinless Jesus for crucifixion. Evil abhors good.
One thing that has always stood out to me is something I find very difficult to comprehend. It's the fact that even on the cross, while in excruciating pain and agony, Jesus looked down from the cross at the Roman soldiers who were gambling for His clothes and said something shocking. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." He forgave them.
Could you forgive those who had whipped and tortured you and had just pounded huge nails through your wrists and feet? I couldn't, but Christ did.
We live in a time when Christians are persecuted, tortured, and killed world-wide. The persecution and hatred of Christians is increasing in America. I have a visceral reaction to those anti-Christian zealots, particularly Islamists who behead children in the name of a Muslim god. The last thing I want to do is forgive them, but that is what Jesus taught and demonstrated in the most horrific and least likely situation one would expect to find forgiveness.
I suppose I could forgive the Islamic savages after I killed them. I don't think forgiveness means acceptance and I doubt that Christians are obliged to stand by passively while evil primitives slaughter Christians and Jews, including innocent children. So there is a conflict, but Jesus said that if we want to be forgiven, we must forgive others. Talk about a dilemma . . .
We always think of forgiveness as forgiving others, but how about forgiving ourselves? I think that is some cases it's easier to forgive someone who did something to cause us pain than to forgive ourselves for things that haunt our memories and cause a sense of guilt and regret.
This whole forgiveness thing is something I don't completely understand. It seems to go against human nature. There have been many times when I have been reminded of this obligation and have tried to forgive with some degree of success. But it's difficult to wrap my mind around the astounding fact that Jesus forgave while dying in agony on the cross.
That is only one of many things that impact me personally when I consider an event that happened over two thousand years ago; an event so powerful that it divided history into BC and AD. That brief statement by Christ from the cross is sometimes overlooked, but it is immensely significant.