While on the cross, Jesus spoke seven distinct phrases. The first word from the cross was a word of forgiveness. He said, “Father, Forgive then…” (Luke 23:34). We all understand what forgiveness is because we’ve all needed it from others and we’ve all had to offer it to others. To forgive someone is to release them from the debt they owe because of a wrong they’ve committed against us. There are three elements associated with forgiveness; first, a wrong has been committed. Second, a debt is accrued because of that wrong. Third, there is a cancelling of that debt. It acknowledges the hurt but releases one from any obligation towards the debt.

The essence of forgiveness is also threefold and is seen in the three words that Jesus spoke from the cross. First, The source of forgiveness is the Father. The source of all forgiveness is God. Human beings cannot forgive the debt of sin that we owe to God. The church cannot forgive the debt of sin we owe to God. Religious ceremonies and liturgies cannot forgive the debt of sin we owe to God. Only one person can forgive sin. Second, the means of forgiveness is Jesus. He said “forgive.” All sin must be recompensed, the debt must be satisfied. Jesus is the mediator of all sin. He came to earth for this purpose, to suffer and die and rise again so that through Him we could be forgiven by a perfectly righteous God. Finally, the benefactors of forgiveness are all of us associated with the word “them.” It’s Jesus offering Himself, on the cross, as the payment for all sin to cancel our debt and to set us free from our obligation because of our sin. We can be the benefactor of God’s forgiveness through Christ if we but acknowledge the wrong and accept Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

It costs to forgive…forgiveness takes place when the person who was offended and justly angered by the offender bears his own anger, and lets the other go free. Anger cannot be ignored, denied, or forgotten without doing treachery in hidden ways. It must be dealt with responsibly, honestly, in a decisive act of the will. This is how God dealt with His wrath on sinful man. He bore His own wrath on the Cross for us and through our faith in Christ, He sets us free.

“But with you, O Lord, there is forgiveness…” Psalm 130:4