Jesus’ Journey to the Cross – Part Five: Grace Needed, Granted, Extended
Grace Needed: Disciples, Guards, Courts, Crowds
“Peter’s weakness, the guard’s bullying, the court’s perversion of justice; all this and much more put Jesus on the cross. It wasn’t just a theological transaction; it was real sin, real human folly and rebellion, the dehumanized humanity that has lost its way and spat in God’s face. ‘They did many other insulting things to him.’; yes, and we’ve all done so. As Luke leads our eyes to the foot of the cross he means us to feel no just sorrow and pity, but shame.” – N.T. Wright
Grace Granted: Barabbas, and Me…and You
“All sinners, all rebels, all the human race are invited to see themselves in the figure of Barabbas; and, as we do so, we discover in this story that Jesus comes to take our place, under condemnation for sins and wickednesses great and small….God’s mercy reaches out where human mercy could not, not only sharing, but in this case substituting for, the sinners fate.” – N.T. Wright
Why does Jesus die on the cross? Jesus pays our ransom that releases us from slavery to sin and death. God’s mercy is demonstrated in Jesus’ substituting his perfect life and record for our imperfect one.
“We’re supposed to see God’s willingness to mend, to forgive, to absorb and remove guilt, as oceanic; a sea of love without limit, beating ceaselessly on the shores of our tiny island of caution and justice, always inviting us to look beyond, to begin again, to dare a larger and wilder and freer life. But it is possible to shrink it instead.”
– Francis Spufford
Grace Extended: Giving What We Are Given
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
Like Barabbas, set free from the sentence we deserve, we then offer over that same scandalous grace to others.
“Forgiveness does not mean that I do not continue to feel the hurt from someone’s sin. No, forgiveness means that I forfeit my right to show my hurt at someone’s painful actions. It is the forgiver who must ultimately bear the price for the transgression when he or she would prefer retaliation or recompense, hard as that is to do; that is the divine model that we are to follow.” – Michael F. Bird
- Living in God’s grace empowers our grace toward others (see 1 Peter 2:21-25)
- Forgiveness is granted in our hearts, and then is enacted in reconciling work that includes confronting the wrong that was done for what it is.
“By telling them off, it’s actually a way of getting revenge. They made us feel bad and now we are going to make them feel bad, too. But this is absolutely deadly. You are not really telling the truth for their sake; you are telling it for your sake, and the fruit of that will be grief, bitterness, despair. Jesus gives us the solution. He says that Christians, knowing that they live only by the forgiving grace of God, must do the work of forgiving wrongdoers in their hearts and then go confront them.” – Tim Keller
Life Group Discussion Questions:
- In Luke 22:54-62 we see the way that Peter denied Jesus three times. He had previously been so confident in his own ability to be loyal to Jesus (see 22:33-34). But Jesus knows his own ability and the propensity of his heart – and he knows ours too. Have there been times when you could relate to Peter? How does this text – and the rest of the story, where Peter is restored and even given leadership in the church – encourage you?
- Read Luke 23:23-25. In his message, Pastor Dave suggested that we are meant to see ourselves in the Barabbas story. That this transaction – where Jesus takes the place of Barabbas – functions as a picture of the saving work Jesus does for all of us. Have you thought of this ‘trading places’ image before? How does it encourage your heart, or challenge your thinking about yourself and what Jesus did for you on the cross?
- Read 1Peter 2:21-25. Here the writer consciously draws on the response of Jesus during his trial, and connects the Jesus-Story to the prophecy of Isaiah 53 to teach that Jesus example of non-retaliation is our example to follow.
a. Why do you find it difficult to follow Jesus’ example?
b. Can you think of examples of when you lived out this non-retaliation ethic (or didn’t)? What happened as a result?
c. Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. How might refusing to play the retaliation game, and granting forgiveness “as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you” (Col 3:13 in the Message) be a demonstration in your work place or school that would beg questions of “what is different about you?”
Pray as a group for any needs you have and give thanks for the ways that God has been meeting your needs. Ask God to equip each of you to follow Jesus.