Power of Forgiveness

exploring the power and nature of forgiveness

Biblical Reflections

  • Forgiving Place

    “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man  has nowhere to lay his head.” –Luke 9:58  Jesus demonstrates the remarkable capacity to be “at home” everywhere.  It is a defining characteristic of his ministry.  Jesus’  practice of forgiveness is  manifested in an openness and availability to all  people and to the various contexts where he meets them. Let’s follow this dynamic in Luke Chapter 9.  As the narrative begins, Jesus is gathering the Twelve together, empowering them and sending them out to proclaim the Realm of God and to heal.  This is the first time they will travel on their own, though not without resource:  he grants each of them the authority that is his.  Simultaneously,  he instructs...

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  • The Accountability of Love

    “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”–John 21:16 “Doesn’t forgiveness let people off the hook ?, ” I am regularly asked; “What will make someone accountable for their actions if they are forgiven before they actually change?”  This leads to many fruitful discussions.  For the purpose of this post, let me cut to the chase: It is my clear assertion that nothing in the world  calls us to rise to accountability more strongly than love. By the advent of  John 21,  the resurrected Jesus has appeared to Simon Peter and his companions twice, as well as to Mary Magdalene.  Jesus has risen, in-deed!   And now it is time for Simon Peter to rise. The Galilean seashore, where the journey of discipleship began,  will...

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  • C’mon

                                                                                                                                                                                      Luke 13:29-35 We were standing in the shade of an olive tree.  Jesus was teaching the crowd of people gathered around us, announcing the coming of God’s kingdom, an event that was turning our world upside...

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  • Deepwater Horizon

    Luke 5:1-11 offers us the compelling narrative of Jesus calling his first disciples. Jesus comes into the story as the place, the person, in whom heaven and earth meet.  He perceives the same horizon running through another as he encounters Simon.    When Jesus says, “Let’s set out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch,”  he’s not just talking about the deep water of the sea, but more so the human deep.  Yes, the human deep is the place where woundedness, resentment, and anger are uncovered, but it is more so the residence of stunning beauty,  holiness, divine gift revealed in the particular, seeded inspiration.  In this story,  deep water will be explored and celebrated relationally. Simon takes a deep...

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  • Released for Fulfillment

    It is like a snapshot.  Luke offers us a portrait of Jesus at age 12, a confirmand of sorts (Luke 2:41-52).  It is the only such account of Jesus’ life between toddler-age (Matthew 2) and the advent of his public ministry, when he is around 30 years old.  Here is Jesus, to us quite young, but at the cusp of adulthood in the culture he is raised in. The family has traveled to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover, a yearly sojourn that was a big deal, requiring enormous investment and attention.  Their participation is essential to their self-understanding and the practice of their faith.  Though not explicitly said,  this would be a particular time for Jesus to be mentored in his faith obligations....

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  • Intercessor

    “Jesus answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, great is your faith!”  –Matthew 15:26-28, NRSV The story of Jesus and the “Canaanite woman” resonated deeply as I prepared for a Peace Retreat that would address themes of diversity in the church, inclusion, and interfaith dialogue.  It reminded me of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness following his baptism, a time of struggle and choice that clarified–in the flesh–what names like “Son” and “Beloved” would really mean. The Holy Spirit that led (even drove) Jesus into that wilderness seems to be moving again in Matthew 15, leading,...

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  • The Story Within the Story

    “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”  –Maya Angelou Our lives are meant to be the stories of  God-with-us.  To experience the fulfillment of these stories,these relationships, and to be able to  share them generously with others in the realm of God’s love,  is the substance of salvation.  Our stories are interwoven with the stories of all God’s children in what Dr. King called the “inescapable network of mutuality” woven into a “single garment of destiny.”  The gospel reading for July 1st, Mark 5:21-43, gives further expression to this, where there is a “story within the story!” Jesus is returning from a healing trip to the “other side (vv. 1-19),” where he has crossed rigidly defined boundaries in order to...

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  • Still Time to Rise

    “After this Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” —John 21:19 Peter and six of the other disciples have gone back home to Galilee.  They go fishing and catch nothing, a metaphor for returning to life as they have previously known it, even in the wake of resurrection.   In Jerusalem, Jesus had come to them Easter evening, penetrating their “entombed ” state (John 20:19-31) , offering them his peace and sending them as he had been sent.  He returned eight days later and spoke to Thomas, communicating that the spirit enlivening the disciples’ ministry is available through more than just his physical presence.  Yet the “rising power” has still not been realized within them. A new dawn arrives, offering at first only wrinkled brows.  Another...

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  • Father, Forgive Them

    “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).” Jesus’ intercession for his murderers, made as life flowed from his body, has long been problematic.  There is something about our Lord invoking the promise of forgiveness for his crucifiers that vividly brings home the unbounded expanse of God’s love. If you find this unbearable, your discomfort might be mitigated in several ways.  First, this verse does not appear in some of the early manuscripts of Luke’s gospel.  There has also been supposition that Jesus is praying only on behalf of the criminals on either side of him, rather than for the accusers, judges and executioners, effectively limiting the scope of his intercession.  In a forgiveness series I offered some years back,...

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  • Divine Image-ination

    “The leaders said back to Jesus, “What sign are you going to show us, since you’re doing these things?”  Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I’ll raise it back up in three days.” But Jesus was talking about the temple of his body.”  –John 2:18-19, 21 Jesus comes to the great Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Passover.  It is a scene the synoptic writers place in the narrative of Holy Week.  But John frontloads his gospel with the story, a way of saying, “This is who Jesus is, and why he comes.”  In one of the most stunning acts of his ministry, Jesus enters the place identified as “God’s house” and dramatically interrupts the whole religious operation.  He invades with the force of...

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