What makes the forgiveness that Jesus brought to earth unique, different and why is it so important?

Forgiveness is a fundamental building block of Christianity and every major religion in the world places a lot of value, esteem, and honor on forgiveness. This is well known and could seem like we have all heard this before except if we look a little deeper.

Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu Dharma, and Jainism all address human to human forgiveness. It is one area where the teachings of Jesus differ from all other religions. It provides a path whereby humans can obtain forgiveness from God.

To understand forgiveness, we need to know what we are talking about. The definition below is the most accurate I could source in terms of both the act and attitude of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, forswears recompense from or punishment of the offender, however legally or morally justified it might be, and with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), pardoning (granted for an acknowledged offense by a representative of society, such as a judge), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship). Wikipedia®

The history of forgiveness in western civilization is acknowledged as starting within the Torah (Old Testament) Genesis 37-45 where Joseph offered his brothers unconditional forgiveness before they ever repented. The concept was so foreign that the brothers had to move through the stages of repentance (admission of guilt, confession, and behavioral change) on their own before they are able to acknowledge and accept Joseph’s forgiveness.

Predating this occurrence shame-and-honor cultures ruled the western world from the Greeks to the Romans and all of the other pagan societies that existed. A society can only harbor repentance where they acknowledge that meaningful and permanent social change can occur. When that society now evaluates its environment, it can distinguish between things are right and wrong, because it now possesses a mechanism to repair the “flaw”. Individuals can now willingly act morally and responsibly, accountable for their actions, based on values and choice.

To be honest, Joseph did not arrive at this moment unaccompanied, unguided or uninstructed. God carefully crafted Joseph’s life to lead him to this as the only viable option for the circumstances. The method by which the brothers attained repentance (for their own accord – not Joseph’s) was also constructed in such a way that they cemented the method by which we as humans attain and accept forgiveness from the “victim” or injured party, and for ourselves, was done right at humanity’s first attempt. Coincidence – I think not.

There is a lot written about this and most is worth the read, but we need to focus on what this blog is about – Jesus.

It is immensely difficult to think of God as a victim or as an injured party. We are talking about God Almighty, creator of all things, and we are required to look at Him as being injured, hurt and harmed. As the Creator, He has experienced hurt and betrayal before.

Ezekiel 28:17 (NIV) – Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

This refers to the betrayal of Satan (Lucifer) and his removal from heaven and placement on earth. Here Satan will corrupt God’s pride and joy, humans. Upon betrayal within Eden God removed Adam and Eve from Eden (similar reaction from God). However, God knew that human-kind possess the capacity to repent (could not find an explanation of why Satan is incapable of repenting – his sin was a choice as well).

It is not that God is incapable of forgiveness, He created it – there is another issue.

Isaiah 59:2 (NIV) – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

God is perfect, and our sin causes our separation from Him, His presence, His direct involvement in our lives. And yet:

Isaiah 63:9 (NIV) – In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

He loves us – if you are a parent you may understand this – especially if your child has hurt you. The love for that child does not change, your longing for their welfare does not change, your wish for good for them does not change. If we experience these feelings as humans, the anguish this causes God is unimaginable.

So yes God is a victim, injured party, harmed by an action from us (with some help from Satan in some cases). Yet He chooses willingly to set in motion our route to reconciliation with Him.

He sets a plan in motion that demonstrates His commitment to humans by granting us both Grace and Mercy. (Grace is where God grants us something we do not deserve – Mercy is where God does not give us what we deserve.) These are free gifts from God to human-kind. There is no counter-performance required (or possible) from human-kind to deserve these gifts in any way.

(The only other religion on earth that approaches this level of forgiveness is in Hindu Dharma, where Lakshmi grants feminine forgiveness without repentance. It is seen as higher as and nobler than the masculine forgiveness granted Vishnu after there is repentance.)

The bearer of this gift was Jesus.

Luke 24:46-47 (NIV) – He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations…

John 14:6-7 (NIV) – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

To underpin the importance of this to God and Jesus:

John 14:15-17 (NIV) – “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

We will be able to mend our relationship with God Almighty through Jesus Christ (our Redeemer) where we as believers turn away from sin, with our own efforts and the assistance of the Holy Spirit. This was a consequence of an action by God (Grace and Mercy), not man.

Acts 3:19 (NIV) – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV) – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Wow – Hallelujah (/ˌhælɪˈluːjə/ HAL-i-LOO-yə)


How great is our God…

How-Great-Is-Our-GodThis is the element that separates Christianity from all other religions. This makes Christianity unique.

But wait there is more…

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) – For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Christian forgiveness extends outwards from us – as we receive forgiveness, we can also grant it – not necessarily in that order but by the same mechanism. (For more on how to practice forgiveness)

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The combination of these two (God forgive us, and us forgiving others) we can now function as healthy fulfilled and complete beings – just as God intended us to be.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I have no words left….

Hebrews 10:15-17 (NIV) – The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. “Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

I pray that this will reach your heart with the same intensity as I experienced writing it.

May the love of the Father, the tenderness of the Son, and the presence of the Spirit, gladden your heart and bring peace to your soul, this day and all days, Amen.

Originally posted on - https://discoveringgod491609808.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/forgiveness-jes...

Author's Bio: 

Anton van den Berg is a normal person. I have no specialized theological training but I have led a life of hard and tough lessons. Like silver, I had to be taken to the furnace to get rid of a lot of impurities. In that process, I have learned to let certain things go, and to attach to other values. These posts represent some of the pivotal growth-moments in that journey. I hope that it would assist you on your journey in some way. May God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit be with you.