I am reading Tim Keller’s very awesome book, The Reason for God. It is very good. This morning, I was reading the chapter about the cross and why we can not remove it, as some people want to because it is so offensive. He talks about how the cross relates to forgiveness. I had to restrain myself to keep from just highlighting everything. Here’s what I did highlight.
(p. 196) “Forgiveness means refusing to let them pay for what they did.”
“Forgiveness must be granted before it can be felt, but it does come eventually. It leads to a new peace, a resurrection. It is the only way to stop the spread of the evil.”
(p.198, talking about Dietrich Bonhoeffer) “His forgiveness was costly suffering, because it actually confronted the hurt and evil before him. His forgiveness was not what he called (in The Cost of Discipleship) ‘cheap grace.’ He did not ignore or excuse sin. He resisted it head on, even though it cost him everything. His forgiveness was also costly because he refused to hate. He passed through the agonizing process required to love your enemies, so his resistance to their evildoing was measured and courageous, not venomous and cruel.”
(p.199-200) “Forgiveness means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it, so you can reach out in love to seek your enemy’s renewal and change…Should it surprise us, then, that when God determined to forgive us rather than punish us for all the ways we have wronged him and one another, that he went to the Cross in the person of Jesus Christ and died there? As Bonhoeffer says, everyone who forgives someone bears the other’s sins. On the cross we see God doing visibly and cosmically what every human being must do to forgive someone, though on an infinitely greater scale. I would argue, of course, that human forgiveness works this way because we unavoidably reflect the image of our Creator.”
(p.200) “Jesus Christ is God. God did not then, inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself…this is a God who becomes human and offers his own lifeblood in order to honor moral justice and merciful love so that someday he can destroy all evil without destroying us.”
“There was debt to be paid-God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born-God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.
“We have seen how human forgiveness and its costliness sheds light on divine forgiveness. However, it is divine forgiveness that is the ultimate ground and resource for the human. Bonhoeffer repeatedly attested to this, claiming that it was Jesus’s forgiveness of him on the Cross that gave him such security in God’s love that he could live a life of sacrificial service to others.”