Living In a World of Hatred & Offenses & Letting the Offender(s) Go Free & Forgiving All

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament book. “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come; but woe unto him, through whom they come! IT were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: IF thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:1-4).

            “And the apostle said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:5-10).

            “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger? And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:11-19).

            “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto his disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, and they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall see, to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luke 17:20-37).

            OFFENSES! TRESPASSES! REBUKES! REPENTANCE! FORGIVENESS! IF THY BROTHER TRESPASS AGAINST THEE, REBUKE HIM! IF HE REPENT, FORGIVE HIM! AND IF HE TRESPASS AGAINST THEE SVEN TIMES IN A DAY, AND SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY TURN AGAIN TO THEE, SAYING, I REPENT; THOU SHALT FORGIVE HIM! OFFENSES & TRESPASSES! FORGIVENESS!

            INCREASE OUR FAITH! IF YE HAD FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEE! YE MIGHT SAY! BE THOU PLUCKED UP BY THE ROOT, AND BE THOU PLANTED IN THE SEA! IT SHOULD OBEY YOU! DOTH HE THANK THAT SERVANT BECAUSE HE DID THE THINGS THAT WERE COMMANDED HIM? WHEN YE SHALL HAVE DONE ALL THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE COMMANDED YOU, SAY, WE ARE UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS! WE HAVE DONE THAT WHICH WAS OUR DUTY TO DO!

            HE PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF SAMARIA AND GALILEE! THERE MET HIM TEN MEN THAT WERE LEPERS, WHICH STOOD AFAR OFF! THEY LIFTED UP THEIR VOICES, AND SAID, JESUS, MASTER, HAVE MERCY ON US! WHEN HE SAW THEM, HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO SHEW YOURSELVES UNTO THE PRIESTS! AS THEY WENT, THEY WERE CLEANSED! ONE OF THEM WHEN HE SAW THAT HE WAS HEALED, TURNED BACK, AND WITH A LOUD VOICE GLORIFIED GOD! FELL DOWN ON HIS FACE AT HIS FEET, GIVING HIM THANKS! WHEN A LEPER IS ALSO A SAMARITAN! WHEN A LEPER IS ALSO A SYRIAN! WERE THERE NOT TEN CLEANSED? WHERE ARE THE NINE? THERE ARE NOT FOUND THAT RETURNED TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD, SAVE THIS STRANGER! GO THY WAY! THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE!

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find language that is incredibly similar to that which is found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. As you begin reading with and from the opening verses of the seventeenth chapter you will find Jesus speaking unto His disciples—a reality and concept which is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to think about it. Upon reading these words we must needs recognize and understand that Jesus wasn’t speaking unto the crowds, nor was He speaking unto the scribes, nor was He speaking unto the Pharisees, nor was He speaking unto the Sadducees. If you take the time to read the words found in this passage you will find Jesu speaking directly unto His disciples—those who would walk with and those who would follow Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important this is, for it calls and draws our attention to something which we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. The words which we read here must be understood as having critical and vital importance to and for us as we make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The language Jesus used here is such which is actually quite astonishing and remarkable, for if you read the four gospel narratives you will essentially find Jesus preparing His disciples for select realities which they would experience within their lifetime. There would be some realities they would experience while Jesus walked and was present among them, while there would be other realities Jesus would prepare them for upon His departure from this earth and subsequent return unto His Father who was in heaven. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important it is, for the more you read the gospel narratives the more you will be brought face to face with the truly astonishing truth that while Jesus walked among us and was present upon the earth He prepared and made His disciples ready for that which they would face, walk through, experience and endure.

            As you read the four gospel narratives you will find that Jesus took the time to prepare His disciples for His betrayal—and not only His betrayal, but His betrayal at the hands of one of His own and one who was among them. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter this particular reality, for there were several occasions when Jesus not only prepared His disciples for His betrayal, but would also reference how one from among their own numbers would be the one who would betray Him. Directly in alignment with this is Jesus going on to prepare and make ready His disciples for the suffering that would ensue as a direct result of His being betrayed—suffering which would not only take place at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people, but suffering which would also take place at the hands of sinners. While Jesus doesn’t readily offer up the Romans as those sinners whom He would face and experience suffering from, we know and understand from Scripture that it would be the Romans who would torture, ridicule, mock, scorn, flog and ultimately crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. With this being said we must needs understand that Jesus would also prepare His disciples for His subsequent death which He would experience during their life time. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact take the time to prepare and make ready His disciples for His suffering, for His death, but ultimately His burial and resurrection. IF there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading these four gospel narratives, it’s that while it was indeed true Jesus would prepare and make ready His disciples for His suffering and death, He would also prepare them for His resurrection from death to life. Jesus never spoke of His suffering, nor did He ever speak of His death without and apart from also speaking of His resurrection. This is incredibly important for us to recognize and understand, for when reading the four gospel narratives you will find the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His disciples for His betrayal, for His suffering, for His death, and ultimately for His burial and resurrection. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? OR what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:21-28).

            “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23).

            “And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19).

            “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:1-2).

            It is absolutely undeniable when reading each of these passages that while the Lord Jesus Christ walked upon the earth as the Word made flesh which dwelt among us that He prepared His disciples for the suffering He would walk through, as well as the death which would ultimately ensue and take place as a direct result of that suffering. While Jesus was present within and upon the earth He prepared His disciples for His betrayal, which would ultimately lead to the suffering which He would endure—suffering which would originally and initially begin with the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people, and would then continue with the sinners who would mock and scourge Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this incredible truth and reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible fact that while Jesus was preset within and upon the earth He took the time to prepare His disciples for His betrayal, for His suffering, and for His death—and not only for these realities, but also for His subsequent burial and resurrection from the dead. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that Jesus would not merely prepare His disciples for His suffering and death without also preparing them for His resurrection from death to life on the third day. It is absolutely and incredibly important for us to recognize and understand this, for it actually leads us to one of the second things Jesus prepared His disciples for—namely, their own suffering which they would walk through in this life after His departure. As you read the four gospel narratives which are found within the New Testament you will find that Jesus did indeed and did in fact prepare His disciples for suffering and persecution which they would experience, however, if we take the time to read the Scriptures we must needs understand that even if the disciples walked through their own suffering, and were ultimately killed and martyred for their faith and for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, they would experience a resurrection from the dead as the Father in heaven would indeed and would in fact raise them from the dead.

            If we are going to have a conversation and dialogue about the suffering of Jesus—and not only the suffering of Jesus, but also the death and burial of Jesus the Christ before His resurrection—we must also acknowledge and understand that Jesus also prepared His disciples for their own suffering which would be experienced within this life after His departure from this world and His return unto His Father who was in heaven. It would be one thing for us to think about and consider the suffering of Jesus which would ultimately lead to His death before being buried in the heart of the earth and not think, nor even consider the call within and upon our lives to walk through suffering, and to perhaps even experience persecution, affliction and opposition. It is as you read the four gospel narratives found within the New Testament that you will find Jesus taking the time to prepare and make ready His disciples for the suffering, the affliction and the persecution which they would face, experience and walk through within this life—a fact that is absolutely undeniable and unavoidable. In fact, I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the specific words and language which Jesus used when speaking unto His disciples, for we must needs understand that Jesus did indeed and did in fact take the time to speak unto His disciples and prepare and make them ready to walk through suffering, persecution, affliction and opposition within this life. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the following words which are found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the fifth chapter:

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-38).

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take not thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up gainst their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above is master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciples that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the hoes Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

            “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

            “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

            We must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to the words which are presented before and unto us in these passages of Scripture, for within them we are brought face to face with the fact that in addition to Jesus preparing the disciples for His own suffering, persecution, affliction and death, so also would He prepare His disciples for their own suffering, affliction, persecution, and the like. If and as you rea the four gospel narratives you can and will most certainly be met with the absolutely astonishing and remarkable truth that while it is indeed true the Lord Jesus prepared His disciples for His own suffering and death, so also did He prepare them for the suffering they would walk through and experience. We cannot read the four gospel narratives without and apart from understanding that while it is true that Jesus would walk through His own suffering, His own affliction, and His own persecution before being killed and crucified, so also would the disciples walk through their own suffering and persecution. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to one of the hallmarks and realities of discipleship and walking with and following Jesus the Christ—namely, persecution, suffering and affliction. There would be those among us who would like to separate discipleship and walking with and following Jesus from any and all manner of suffering, affliction and persecution, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. There is absolutely nowhere in any of the four gospels where we find Jesus excusing and exempting His disciples from walking through suffering, affliction, persecution and opposition. In fact, the contrary is true, for time and time again Jesus prepared and made ready His disciples to walk through and experience suffering and persecution. The disciples would and could not walk through this life without and apart from experiencing suffering, affliction and persecution in this life. In fact, it might almost be said that if one wishes to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ they must needs be wiling to commit and open themselves up to some form and manner of suffering, affliction, persecution and opposition in this life.

            With this being said it is worth thinking about and considering the fact that there would be those who would think that the cross was only a symbol and instrument of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet before the cross was ever mentioned as the instrument and tool which would be used in the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ it would first be an instrument of discipleship. It would be in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples instructing them to deny themselves and take up their cross. What’s more, is that Jesus would emphatically and unreservedly declare that anyone who did not deny themselves and take up their cross were not worthy of Him. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand, for it draws and calls our attention to the fact that more than simply the tool and instrument of Jesus’ death which He would not only carry, but also be crucified upon—the cross was, is and always will be an instrument of discipleship and our walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not, we cannot and ought not seek to separate the cross from discipleship and walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is a strong and powerful instrument and symbol of discipleship within our hearts and lives, for it is the cross which we have been invited to carry—and not only carry, but carry as we deny ourselves and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when speaking of the cross, for the cross is more than simply an emblem which we wear connected to a necklace we wear around our neck. The cross is and always has been a strong and powerful instrument of discipleship and one which we must needs recognize and understand has always and will always be a wonderful and powerful invitation given unto us. If we are going to speak of discipleship and our walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ as disciples we must needs recognize and understand that before Jesus would every carry the cross upon which He would ultimately die He first and foremost invited us to deny ourselves, to take up and carry our own cross, and to follow Him. What’s more, is that with this being said He would also issue and give a profound and powerful warning to those who would not deny themselves and take up their cross, for Jesus would indeed declare that whoever would not take up their cross was not worthy of Him—and not only those who refused to deny themselves and take up their cross would not be worthy of Him, but those who denied Him before men would themselves be denied by the Son before the Father who was in heaven.

            Thus far we have talked and spoken about how the Lord Jesus Christ prepared and made ready His disciples for His betrayal, for His suffering, His death and His ultimate burial and resurrection from death to life on the third day. We have also spoken about the Lord Jesus Christ preparing and making ready His disciples for their own suffering, their own affliction, their own persecution, and the opposition they would face and walk through in this life. With this being said, however, it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that in addition to Jesus preparing the disciples for the suffering and persecution they would walk through, He also prepared them for something that would be directly linked and connected to it, and yet would be altogether different from it. As you read the four gospel narratives you will find time and time again the language of loving one’s neighbour—and not only loving one’s neighbour, but loving one’s neighbour as we love ourselves. In fact, it is in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke unto His disciples and even referenced how they heard it was said how they ought to love their neighbous and hate their enemies. With this being said, however, Jesus would give them a new and living way and a new and living command—namely, that they were to love their enemies. As you read the four gospel narratives you will find that Jesus not only prepared and made ready His disciples to love their neighbours, but also to love their enemies. If and when you speak about Jesus’ command to love others within the four gospels you will find that love not being distinguished between and separated between neighbours and enemies—those whom we would view and perceive as neighbours, and those we would perceive as enemies. Within the four gospel narratives we find that with the same measure we loved our neighbours, so also were we to love our enemies. In fact, I would dare say that Jesus never drew a dividing line, nor even a distinction between the love which we display and exercise toward our neighbours and the love which we would show our enemies. What’s more, is that if and you read the four gospel narratives you will find Jesus instructing and inviting us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Not only this, but you will find Jesus instructing us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who despitefully use us.

            This must needs be recognized and understood within our own hearts and lives, for it calls and draws our attention to something which we must acknowledge as disciples and those who would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ within this life. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to recognize that we have indeed been called to love our neighbors as ourselves, for this is in fact the second commandment. The first and greatest commandment is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. What’s more, is the entire Law of Moses, as well as the prophets can be summarized in these two commands—namely, love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. There is absolutely no denying and no mistaking the fact that Jesus understood—and not only understood, but also acknowledged that we were called to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The entire Law and the prophets would and could be summarized with these two commands, for if you committed yourself to fulfilling and accomplishing these two commands you would live a life that is seeking to fulfill and meet the requirements and commands found within the Law and the prophets. Oh with this in mind it is absolutely necessary that we recognize how although Jesus prepared us to love God and to love people, He also prepared us to at the same time be hated of all men and all nations for His name’s sake. Oh pause for a moment and consider the fact that while it is indeed true the Lord Jesus prepared and made us ready to love the LORD our God and to love our neighbours and enemies as ourselves, He also prepared and made us ready to be hated. It is something worth thinking about and considering when reading the four gospel narratives and to uncover and discover that at the same time we have been called to love our neighbor and to love our enemy we are also being called, being prepared, and being made ready to be hated of all nations and all people’s for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ.

            It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found in this portion of Scripture, for within the four gospel narratives you will find Jesus time and time again instructing and inviting the disciples to love God and to love their neighbors as themselves, however, with that in mind Jesus also prepared them to be hated. I have often said that Jesus never prepared His disciples to be accepted, received, welcomed, embraced and even loved within this life. In fact, the opposite is true, for Jesus prepared and made ready His disciples to be rejected, to be despised, and ultimately to be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for when we think about discipleship and being one who walks with and follows the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and acknowledge that we have indeed and have in fact been prepared by Jesus to be hated of all men for His name’s sake. What’s more, is that while we are preparing ourselves to be hated of all men for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ, and while we are preparing ourselves to be afflicted, rejected, and despised of and by men, we are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love our enemies. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of this, for it is something we have a great need of recognizing and acknowledging within our own hearts and lives if we wish to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we seek after and desire to be those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and acknowledge that He has sent us out as sheep in the midst of wolves, has instructed us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and has indeed prepared us to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Oh stop and consider the fact that Jesus sent us into the world to love our neighbors and to love our enemies, and yet at the same time He prepared us to be hated of all men and all nation’s for His name’s sake. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following passages found in the New Testament which bring us face to face with Jesus preparing us to be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake:

            “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matthew 10:21-23).

            “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL NATIONS FOR MY NAME’S SAKE. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

            “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).

            “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:16-19).

            “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, THEREFORE THE WORLD HATETH YOU. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without ta cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:18-27).

            It is absolutely undeniable from these passages that Jesus did not prepare His disciples to be hated of all men for His name’s sake. In fact, as early as Jesus sending the twelve disciples out as apostles and ambassadors of the kingdom He prepared and made them ready to be hated of all men and all nations for His name’s sake. What’s more, is that when Jesus was speaking unto the disciples about the Last Days and the end of times we find Him once more speaking unto them about their being hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and astonishing truth that while we have indeed and while we have in fact been called to love our neighbours as ourselves, and while we have indeed been called to even love our enemies, we have also been prepared to be hated of all men and all nations for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no avoiding this, for Jesus would go on to declare unto His disciples and those who heard these words that those who endure unto the end—the same would themselves be saved. Oh how incredibly intriguing and challenging it is to read the four gospel narratives and to find Jesus instructing and inviting us to walk in love while also at the same time experiencing the hatred of all nations and all men for His name’s sake. It is something worth thinking about and considering when we think about Jesus instructing and inviting us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love our enemies, and while we are walking in that love we also know that we can and will be hated of all men and all nations for His name’s sake. Jesus would declare unto the disciples that a servant is not above their master, nor a disciple above their lord, and if they hated Him without a cause, so also would they hate them without a cause. Oh how we must needs recognize and understand that while it is indeed true that we have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and while it is indeed true that we have been called to love our enemies, we are also to prepare and make ourselves ready knowing that we can indeed and can in fact be hated of all men and all nations for the sake of the name of Jesus.

            Before I get into the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to another reality which Jesus prepared and made ready His disciples for. If you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that Jesus not only prepared His disciples for His departure and subsequent return unto His Father who was in heaven, but He also prepared them for the arrival of the person of the Holy Spirit whom He referred to as “the Comforter.” While it is indeed true the Lord Jesus prepared His disciples for His betrayal, suffering and death, and while it is true Jesus prepared His disciples for suffering and persecution in their own lives, and while He prepared them to be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake, it is also true that He prepared them for His departure and return unto His Father who was in heaven. You cannot read chapters thirteen through sixteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with this particular truth and reality, for Jesus knew when His hour had come for Him to be glorified—and not only for Him to be glorified, but also for Him to return unto His Father who was in heaven. These particular chapters which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John bring us face to face with the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ understanding that He must needs depart from this earth and return unto His Father who was in heaven. Once His hour had come and once He had fulfilled that for which He had been sent to fulfill and accomplish in the earth He would need to return unto His Father who was in heaven. What’s more, is that Jesus’ return unto the Father who was in heaven would indeed serve two distinct purposes, roles and functions. According to Scripture, Jesus’ return unto His Father who was in heaven would be necessary for the person of the Holy Spirit be manifested, sent and present within the earth. Not only this, but Jesus’ return unto His Father who was in heaven would indeed be necessary, for in the same manner in which He departed from this earth and returned unto His Father who was in heaven, so also would He return unto His own. In fact, the angels which appeared after Jesus ascended into heaven and was removed and received out of their sight would emphatically declare that in the same manner in which they saw Him depart and ascend, so also would He return. Oh with this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the final chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, as well as the words found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, and the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John:

            “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:50-53).

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time retore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).

            “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:1-5).

            “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the SON of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:31-35).

            “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (John 13:36-38).

            “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:1-4).

            ”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).

            “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15-21).

            “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence” (John 14:25-31).

            “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

            “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:1-11).

            “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HE shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:12-16).

            “Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? WE cannot ell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatosever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:17-28).

            Each of these passages calls us into and brings us into the place where we recognize and understand—not only that Jesus was going to depart from this earth and return unto His Father who was in heaven, but also to the fact that He would come to the disciples, and that He would return and come again. It is actually quite remarkable and astounding when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture, for the words presented here not only paint a wonderful and beautiful picture of Jesus departing from this earth and returning unto His Father, but they also paint a beautiful portrait of Jesus coming unto us. It is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when reading these words to indeed find and discover how Jesus would depart from this world and would go unto His Father who was in heaven, and how as a direct result of His departure from the earth He would not only come unto them, but He would also come again. There is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words, for directly linked and connected to Jesus’ departure from this earth and subsequent return unto His Father who was in heaven is the idea that He would come unto them, that He would come again, as well as the Father that both He and the Father would come unto them and would dine and sup with them. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these passages that Jesus’ departure would not be the end, but rather the beginning of His coming unto them in a new and living way. Jesus would not depart from this world and leave them orphans and even comfortless, but would come unto them through the person of the Holy Spirit. From the right hand of the Father who is in heaven the Lord Jesus Christ would send the person and promise of the Holy Spirit who would indeed be the Comforter who would lead and guide them into the truth. Jesus’ departure from this world and return unto the Father would have a tremendous impact, for by and through His departure He would indeed prepare a place for them—not only that where He goes they might also be, but also that He might return and come unto them and bring them into that place which He had prepared for them.

            Perhaps one of the single greatest realities the Lord Jesus Christ prepared His disciples for was His departure from this world and His return unto the Father who was in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ prepared His disciples for His departure from this world and His return unto the Father, and yet in His departure there would also be comfort in knowing that He would not only come unto them, but would come again. In the departure of the Lord Jesus Christ there is both the coming unto them together with the Father in the person of the Holy Spirit, and there is also the coming again in which He would return unto them. What’s more, is that in the departure from this world Jesus would indeed and would in fact send the person and presence of the Holy Spirit who would not only be Comforter for and unto them, but would guide them into all truth. While Jesus was present in the world as the Word made flesh He was confined to a physical body and the limitations that came with it—namely, being relegated to being in one place at one time. Through His departure, however, Jesus would come unto His disciples and unto His Church in and through the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be by and through the person of the Holy Spirit Jesus could indeed be present with His disciples and His Church regardless of where they were, regardless of what time of day it was, and regardless of what is going on around them. Jesus’ departure from this earth and subsequent sending of the person of the Holy Spirit is truly captivating when you take the time to think about it, for it brings us face to face with the fact that when Jesus departed from this world and returned unto His Father who was in heaven He would come unto us in and through the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be through the person and presence of the Holy Spirit Jesus would indeed be present with His Church and His people in a way He could never be while He was present within the earth as the Word made flesh.

            As you come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find Jesus preparing His disciples for something else—something that was entirely and altogether different from persecution and being hated of all men, and yet something that might seem to be closely connected to them both. If you read the words found in this portion of Scripture you will find Jesus emphatically declaring unto His disciples that it is impossible but that offenses will come. Pause for a moment and think about how incredibly challenging and provocative those words truly are, for not only did Jesus seem to declare that persecution was inevitable, and not only did Jesus seem to declare that being hated is inevitable, but now we find Jesus seemingly declaring that offenses are enabled. What makes this particular passage so incredibly intriguing is when you think about the fact that what Jesus is saying is that offenses will come—essentially that offenses can and will come. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize that what Jesus is saying is not that being offended will come, but rather that offenses themselves will come. There would be those who would read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture and automatically think and assume that what Jesus was declaring was that being offended must needs and will in fact come. The truth of the matter, however, is that this couldn’t be the furthest thing from what Jesus declared, for what Jesus was actually stating and declaring unto His disciples was that offenses can and will come. It is absolutely undeniable and unavoidable for men and women to not commit offenses, for there can and there will be men and women who will offend others. IF you are reading these words you must needs recognize and acknowledge that there will be those who have offended and who have committed offenses against you. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider that there haven’t been those who have committed offenses toward and against us. Those who would declare that others have not committed an offense toward and against them in one way or another might have an altered understanding of reality within this life, as Jesus emphatically declared that it is impossible but that offenses will come—thus declaring that offenses can and will come.

            While I am sitting here writing these words I find myself being absolutely gripped with the fact that Jesus never declared that offenses would not come, but rather that it was impossible for them not to come. It’s truly astonishing to consider the fact that Jesus prepared His disciples for three distinct realities when walking with and following Him as His disciples—persecution, being hated by men, and offenses. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for while it is true that Jesus declared that it was impossible for offenses not to come, He also stated—when speaking of the Last Days—that many will be offended. It is quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus state that it was impossible for offenses not to come, as well as declaring that in the Last Days men and women would be offended. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for while it is impossible for offenses not to come, we as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must determine within our hearts if the offense(s) are going to and will indeed lead to being offended. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that it’s possible to have an offense committed against you and yet that offense finds no lodging within your heart? Would it surprise you to think about the fact that offenses can indeed and can in fact come, and yet we don’t need to be offended by the offenses? There are those who would like to think that any and every offense committed against them automatically results and should lead to being offended, and yet the truth of the matter is that it is possible for offenses to come and yet being offended never takes place. We would like to think that whenever an offense is committed against us we automatically have the right to be offended, and yet the gospels never reveal or suggest as such.

            Upon reading the words which are found within this passage—not only will you find Jesus emphatically declaring that it is impossible for offenses not to come, but you will also find Jesus speaking of another trespassing against us. What’s more, is that not only does Jesus speak of another trespassing against us, but Jesus uses the word “brother” when speaking of those who would trespass against someone. It is truly unique and challenging when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture that not only did Jesus speak to His disciples and declare that offenses can and will come, but He also spoke about one’s own brother trespassing against Him. It would be one thing for someone other than our brother or sister to commit an offense or trespass against us, however, it’s something else entirely for our brother or sister to commit the trespass against us. Moreover, when we read this particular passage we do indeed find Jesus declaring that offenses can and will come, and our brother quite possibly trespassing against us, however, we are presented with two different responses to our brother committing a trespass against us. If you read the words presented before us here in this passage you will find Jesus instructing His disciples to rebuke their brother who has committed a trespass against them, and yet the rebuke is not for the purpose of accusation, nor judgment, nor condemnation, nor criticism, nor anything else we can think of or imagine. Rebuking that brother who has trespassed against us is not even to lay blame or guilt upon them for what they have committed, but rather for the purposes of restoration, reconciliation, and even repentance. It’s worth noting that direct in line with Jesus instructing us to rebuke our brother who has trespassed against us we find Him declaring that our brother responds to our rebuke by repenting of their offense, we are to forgive them. Stop and consider that for a moment, for it flies against everything we have been taught and everything we believe within our hearts and lives.

            We tend to think that rebuking our brother who has trespassed against us is to further confirm our offense and the bitterness and the grudge within our heart. The truth of the matter, however, is that when we approach our brother who has trespassed against us it is for the purpose of repentance, reconciliation and restoration. WE dare not and must not think that rebuking a brother or sister who has offended us or who has wronged us is the means to justify our emotions, our thoughts and our feelings. We must not think that rebuking a brother or sister who has offended us is somehow the means to justify the bitterness, the offense and the grudge that is within our own heart. What’s more, is that when we speak about offense we must needs recognize that there are quite possibly two sides to every offense. On the one hand there is the actual offense and wrong which has been committed against us, and on the other hand there is the offense we can and might hold and harbor within our hearts. It is this reality which we must needs recognize and understand, for when we speak about offenses we have a great and pressing need to acknowledge that offenses can ultimately lead to additional offenses—and not only offenses, but also being offended. It is this secondary offense that more often than not leads to something much greater and much sinister than the original offense that was committed, for this secondary offense can indeed and can in fact lead to the harboring of bitterness, resentment, hatred, anger, malice, and a grudge toward that one who committed the offense. Not only this, but this secondary act of offense imprisons both the offender and the offended, for it imprisons the offended in the prison of bitterness and resentment, and it imprisons the offender in the prison of our hearts and minds. Not only this, but allowing and giving room to this second offense also imprisons the offended in the prison of unforgiveness, for more often than not they find it incredibly difficult to let go of the offense and to forgive the offender.

            When we think and speak about the subject of offenses and being offended we must needs realize and understand that there is a great need to recognize that at the very heart of both is our willingness to forgive that one who has offended and trespassed against us. One of the most intriguing parts of “The Lord’s Prayer” is how He teaches us to pray “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Within “The Lord’s Prayer,” there is not only the acknowledgment that we ourselves have trespassed against others, but also that others have trespassed against us. If we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves and with the Holy Spirit we must needs acknowledge and admit the fact that within and throughout our lives—not only have there been those who have trespassed against us, but there have been times when even we ourselves have trespassed against others. Within this prayer given unto and taught to us by the Lord Jesus we not only acknowledge our own trespasses, but we also acknowledge those who have trespassed against us. What’s more, is that immediately after Jesus finished teaching His disciples this prayer we find Him going on to further declare that if we forgive men their trespasses our heavenly Father will also forgive us our trespasses. Furthermore, Jesus goes on to declare that if we do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will our Father in heaven forgive our trespasses. FORGIVE TO BE FORGIVEN! FORGIVE TO BE FREE! Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that when we forgive another of their trespasses—not only do we forgive to be forgiven by the Father of our own trespasses, but we also forgive to be free of unforgiveness, bitterness, offense, and resentment within our own heart. Moreover, when we choose to forgive we are also doing so to set free those who have indeed and have in fact committed an offense against us within our hearts and our minds. Thus, what we are actually doing is setting them free—and not only setting them free, but setting the offense free—from having and finding lodging within our hearts, within our minds, and within our souls. Oh we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the truly powerful and undeniable truth that forgiveness is the key that unlocks the prison door of unforgiveness, offense, bitterness and resentment, and not only lets us go free, but also releases the offender go free as well.

            LETTING THE OFFENDER GO FREE! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely worth asking and presenting to you who might be reading these words whether or not you are willing to let the offender go free. We know that offenses can and will come, and we know that trespasses can in fact be committed against us, and yet the underlying question we must be willing to ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to allow the offender to go free. One of the most difficult things for us to do is to allow that one who has wronged us, or offended us, or trespassed against us to go free—and not only go free, but go free within our hearts and our minds. What’s more, is that especially over the last year we have found it possible to become offended with those who have not necessarily wronged, offended or trespassed against us, but have done so toward others. Over the past year plus one of the single greatest struggles men and women have faced—particularly and especially within the body of Christ—is witnessing wrongs and offenses being committed against others and being faced with the decision whether or not they will themselves be offended, or whether they are willing to allow the offender(s) to go free. Please note and please understand that this is in no way suggesting that we are willing to excuse the wrongs, actions, trespasses and offenses others have committed, but rather whether or not we are willing to allow ourselves to become imprisoned with and by our own offense, our own bitterness, our own anger, our own grudge, and even our own hatred toward the individual(s) who perpetrated the offense and wrong. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth, for one of the greatest struggles we have had this past year is choosing whether or not we are willing to take and pick up offense, bitterness, anger, malice and hatred toward others because of the offenses they have committed against others. The wrongs might not have been committed against us, and yet we are still forced with whether or not we are willing to allow the offender to go free and to be free through our willingness to forgive them and choose not to offended. There is something truly astonishing within our hearts and our souls when we deliberately and intentionally choose to allow those who have wronged, offended, sinned against, and trespassed against others to go free within our hearts and our minds through forgiveness and refusing to allow ourselves to be offended with and because of them.

What makes this passage in the gospel narrative written by Luke so provocative and challenging is when you consider the fact that Jesus not only declared that if our brother repents of their trespass we are to forgive them, but Jesus also goes on to declare that if our brother sins and trespasses against us seven times in a day and seven times in a day repents we are to forgive them. Pause and think about the fact that within the gospels—not only does Jesus suggest the possibility of being sinned and trespassed against seven times in a day, but He also commands and instructs us to forgive each of those seven times. Stop and consider what it would and could be like to be trespassed against seven times in a single day, and have the offender and trespasser repent each of those seven times, and each of those seven times we forgive them. Not only this, but even when Simon Peter asked Jesus how often he was to forgive his brother and suggested up to seven times, Jesus would respond by emphatically declaring seventy times seven. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to emphatically declare that if we do not and are even unwilling to forgive our brother and/or sister from the heart our heavenly Father will not forgive us. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that when we forgive—not only do we forgive to be forgiven, but we also forgive to be free. Moreover, we forgive in order that we might indeed and might in fact allow others to go free—and not only to go free, but to go free within our hearts, within our minds and within our souls. Perhaps the greatest question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to once and for all allow those whom we have imprisoned within our hearts, within our minds, and within our souls to finally go free, and to do so through forgiving them—even if they themselves aren’t even aware they are imprisoned within our minds and might have forgotten about the offense and trespass. There is an absolutely great and tremendous need within our hearts and our lives to be those who are willing to forgive those who have trespassed against us—and not only those who have trespassed against us, but also those who have even trespassed against others. It makes no difference whether they have trespassed against us, or our spouse, or our child, or our sibling, or our parent, or a friend, or a loved one, or even someone across the country, for we are faced with the decision whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to become offended, and whether or not we are going to hold a grudge and bitterness within our heart and mind. Oh that we would be men and women who would not only live our lives free from offense and being offended, as well as with a willingness to forgive others so we ourselves can be forgiven, and so both we can be free, as well as the offender themselves be free within our hearts, within our minds, and perhaps even within their own hearts and minds.

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