Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
I read a blog post the other day about forgiveness that I cannot seem to get out of my mind. The post was about a window made by Whistler that showed Judas being pulled into Heaven by the rope around his neck. The window was rejected by the church that it was designed for, and it now sits in a museum in Dorset. As I read the post I was reminded of another incident where forgiveness became controversial. After the Columbine shootings there was a carpenter who felt led to build crosses for the victims of the shootings and erect them in Clement Park as a memorial. The controversy arose when crosses for the shooters were erected as well. Ultimately, all the crosses were removed by the carpenter after family members of the victims removed the two crosses for the shooters.
I reflect on this because it shows just how gut-wrenching forgiveness can be sometimes, and it leads to that age-old question, are there some things which are simply unforgivable? Jesus’ journey to the original cross loudly proclaims “NO, there is nothing that cannot be forgiven.” The execution of Jesus was humanity at its worst; it was a splatter shot of all of our sins combined and directed at the incarnate God. There is nothing we could possibly do to surpass that…ever…and yet, as he hung there on the cross dying, he forgave us and let us know that we are more valuable to him than our very worst of actions. Without that assurance, everything falls apart for us – we are all doomed; because we are all sinners, and all sins lead to the same place – death. But Jesus overcame death; he forgave us our sins, and he taught us to pray forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
It is hard to forgive a person who has hurt or killed someone you love. Sometimes it is impossible. But into this world that is filled with the casualties of all of its wars and hatreds; into the cities where innocent victims are gunned down every day; into the power struggles, and into the everyday heartbreak of our own lives, Jesus comes to show us that we have always been free of the hatreds and fears that enslave us; and that we are free right now, today, this moment, to walk away from it all. We are a week away from the cross. On Sunday Jesus will ride into Jerusalem and we will join the crowds in shouting “save us” as we lay down our palms and our coats. Can we lay down our anger and our resentments too? Can we leave it all behind as we follow Jesus into the city?