At the weekend I was reading the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15. It really is one of the great stories of the bible in terms of demonstrating not only the forgiveness of God, but the radical nature of that forgiveness. The son whom caused the greatest of offence to his father and family is not only allowed back, but is renistated, and given the context of the placing of the family ring back on his hand I don't think it would be unfair to assume that his inheritance rights are restored to what they had been before he had taken his share, sold it all, and spent the proceeds on wild and loose living. When read in light of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 the forgiveness of the father is even more powerful, given that the actions of the son were, according to Deuteronomy, stonable offences.
But this is one of the amazing things that we must surely reflect on as we move through this Holy Week - the radical and sacrificial nature of the forgiveness which God offers to all people in and through Jesus. You see, Deuteronomy makes it clear that there is a cost for being so offensive to ones parents: death by stoning. And yet in Jesus' parable of the lost son rather than it being the rebellious child who pays the price, it is actually the loving father as he casts aside all dignity and self respect in hitching up his robes, runnning to meet his wayward son, and restoring him to the place he had willfully and intentionally neglected.
This week, as we prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection, we (like the son of Luke 15) must surely spend some time reflecting on the cost of forgiveness that we see as we look at the cross, but also the willingness of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - to take that cost upon Himself. Because the forgiveness that Jesus makes possible was no small thing easily achieved; it cost God the Son His very life.
And so as Jesus calls us to follow Him and become more like Him, I can't help but think that the question we all need to be asking (and I certainly include myself in this) is: "Am I prepared to offer a radical and costly forgiveness to those who have offended me?" Because, reflecting on His example, surely the only answer we should give to this question is a resounding, "Yes."