As Jesus was dying an agonizing death on a cross, the Bible records seven statements He made before He died. One of these statements is found in Luke 23:34, where Jesus prayed for the people who had just nailed Him to the cross. "Father forgive them," He prayed, "for they don't know what they are doing." At a time when no one would have blamed Jesus for showing anger or wanting retaliation against His executioners, Jesus asked God the Father to forgive them instead. In our study today, we are going to talk about the fact that Jesus exemplified forgiveness, and we will be challenged to extend forgiveness to others because of the forgiveness we have been shown.
What circumstances make forgiveness particularly difficult? What circumstances make forgiveness easier?
1. Describe a time someone forgave you and the impact their forgiveness made on your life.
2. Read Romans 6:20-23. According to this verse, what is the consequence of sin?
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. Why is it important to take sin seriously?
4. Read Luke 23:34. What is the significance of Jesus' statement in this verse?
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
5. Do you have a hard time accepting God's forgiveness? What about offering forgiveness to others? Why or why not?
6. Read Luke 7:41-47. Why do forgiven people have an easier time showing love?
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
7. Who is someone you need to ask forgiveness from or need to forgive?
Has God's forgiveness had a strong impact on your life? Just like we have been forgiven, Scripture calls us to be people who are quick to extend forgiveness to others. Hopefully, you have taken time to think through a person in your life who you need to forgive. What action steps will you take this week to offer forgiveness to that person? Tell your group who you need to offer forgiveness to this week (if you have not already), and then tell them the steps you will take this week in order to extend that forgiveness.
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.