Romans 5:6-8 says You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Isn’t that a beautiful image. We see God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice and our salvation as a demonstration of God’s love, but what put Jesus on the cross? God’s love? Of course but we also see Jesus died for the ungodly.
Jesus died for sinners. He died for you and me because we are sinners and sin separates us from God. God’s love for us put Jesus on the cross, but our sin was the reason He needed to go there. Our sin put Him on the cross just as surely as if we had held the hammer and drove the nails through His hands and feet. That’s the reality. We killed our savior and every time we choose sin it’s as if we drove the nails again. I know this might feel like a beating but I have to establish this first.
Too many Christians forget this point and when we forget it, we get proud and we forget about the grace we’ve received and when we forget we’ve received it, it makes it very difficult for us to give it.
When we forget grace, we either cheapen it or we withhold it. Let’s look at withholding it. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught his disciples to pray. We call it the Lord’s prayer, but really it should probably be called the disciples prayer, a prayer all Christ followers should take to heart. Now I could do a whole sermon on this prayer but for today I want us to lock in on verse 12. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Do you see what Jesus is doing here? It’s a little strange, but it’s as if Jesus is teaching us to pray to God, giving Him a loophole on forgiveness. Work with me on this for a second. This statement is conditional. He doesn’t just say “God forgive me.” He says “God forgive me the way I forgive others.” How are you doing with that? See this is where it gets tough. What condition would your soul be in if you were forgiven based on your forgiveness of others? Anyone else a little scared? check verses 14 and 15. 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. All this forgiveness is really hard. I can almost hear people thinking “but Dave you don’t know what He or she did to me…” or “you don’t know what he put me through…” And before we go any further, I want to remind you, I struggle with this too and this is hard for me too, but I have to ask you this question and I ask it of myself too.
Does any of the things they did to you compare to driving nails through your hands and feet? Did any of them hang you on a cross and leave you for dead? Because that’s what you and I did to Jesus. I mean as He hung on that cross I believe He knew you and I and the things we would do that put Him there and He cried out “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” That’s the grace we have received and it’s the grace we are called to give. Just like in this painting. We see two bloody hands one holds the bloody nail, the other the bloody hammer. Both are guilty in the death of the Savior, and this is what it’s like when we forget grace and withhold grace and point fingers. We ignore our guilt and focus on another’s sin and that helps neither of us. When we accept God’s grace and we forgive and extend grace, we acknowledge our own guilt and we point the way to grace for others. Isn’t that what we’re called to do? You’ve received grace freely isn’t it time to give grace freely?