The key to forgiveness is Jesus. If you remember, we said that forgiveness always costs the one who does the forgiving. It is given freely, but it costs the one who offers it everything. For you and me to comprehend God’s forgiveness of us, we must truly grasp the price he paid.

Like the servant who owed an incalculable debt, we must first own our debt. We did not just mess up—we sinned. And sin demands retribution. The problem is we can’t make the payment. Jesus paid the debt we owed for the offenses we have committed.

Our dilemma is we often forget the price Jesus paid and the pain he endured to purchase our forgiveness. He was beaten unmercifully before he was crucified. He was punched in the face. His beard was pulled out. He was spit on. He was kicked with boots and punched unmercifully with the butt of a spear when he fell. He was dropped twenty feet through a hole onto the stone floor of a prison cell under the high priest’s house. He was slapped unmercifully in the face over and over. Then, Jesus was flogged with a rawhide whip tipped with shards of glass, bone, and lead that literally ripped his flesh away. By the way, you can forget that forty lash less-one stuff—he was condemned to die and that rule was suspended for those doomed to die on a cross.

Isaiah 52:14 tells us that “his appearance was marred more than any man and his form more than the sons of men…” Jesus was beaten so badly that he was unrecognizable to those who knew him the best. In fact, he was beaten so severely you couldn’t tell if he was male or female. The flogging was brutal—far, far beyond inhumane. It’s cruelty was demonically inspired.

Then Jesus was forced to carry his own cross from the Fortress Antonio up to Skull Hill (Golgotha) outside Jerusalem’s gates. There the soldiers stretched his arms and legs out and nailed him to a cross and stood it up and let it fall into a hole. And there he hung in unspeakable pain. The victim of crucifixion slowly suffocated as his lungs filled with fluid. To get a breath, he was forced to push up on the nail driven through his feet. The pain was excruciating and that position could only be held for a few seconds. Over and over for six long hours Jesus did this for you and me until he took his last breath, gave up his spirit, and died.

Why? So you and I could enjoy forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness is freely given and freely received, but it cost Jesus everything. Remember—the one who offers forgiveness assumes the loss and endures the cost, while the guilty one—the perpetrator of the offense—is released and forgiven.

This is what Jesus did for you and for me. This is the forgiveness that erased your sin debt off the books and granted you freedom from an eternity in hell. This is the level of forgiveness all of us have received because God—like the master of the servant—felt compassion for us. In his great love, he substituted his Son for us.

So here’s the deal. Let me get this straight…”and you can’t forgive another person because….what”?

The issue is not that you can’t forgive. No, it is that you refuse to give another what has been freely given to you. If you will not forgive—it means you really don’t have a clue what Jesus did on the cross for you!