Message Of Goodwill
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
27 March 2016
“I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” – Jesus Christ
The celebration of Easter is regarded by Christians as the holiest day in our calendar. While we joyfully remember the birth of Christ on Christmas day, and solemnly mark his crucifixion on Good Friday, it is the dawn of Easter morning that we look forward to above all. For on this morning we remind each other of the words spoken first by Mary Magdalene, and then by the assembled disciples of Jesus: “I have seen the Lord!”
He is not dead. He is risen. He is alive, now and forevermore.
That is the great good news that believers celebrate. This is more than the miracle of a prophet resurrected from the dead. This is the miracle of man’s reconciliation to God. It is the miracle of grace and forgiveness, for Christ took upon Himself the sins of all – of you and I – so that we could be forgiven.
There is nothing we could do to earn forgiveness. It would be a never-ending race to tally up more good deeds than bad, and even so how could we hope to enter the presence of a wholly righteous God with even one spot or blemish? Thus Christ paid the price we cannot pay, leaving us free to accept the gift of grace: the gift of forgiveness.
When Jesus rose that first Easter Sunday, He appeared to His disciples. The first thing He said was, “Peace be with you.” Then He told them what to do: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you… Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
So the first instruction of our risen Lord was to forgive. With everything He endured to secure the gift of forgiveness on our behalf, our most fitting response is surely to freely forgive.
I therefore encourage you this Easter to consider whom you might be holding a grudge against. Who have you not forgiven? Is it someone close to you, in your own family? Is it someone who holds some sort of power over you, financially perhaps? Or is it someone you have never personally met, but who symbolises all those things that seem to be creating your hardship?
We are quick to judge and quick to anger. Many of us live on the knife-edge of despair, poverty, danger and fear. But this morning I invite you to consider the power of forgiveness. With all that you are carrying, why weigh yourself down further with the terrible burden of unforgiveness?
How do you know you are carrying around unforgiveness? It’s a feeling of resentment, of bitterness, anger and hatred. There are good reasons to rid yourself of these emotions. From a purely medical perspective, they increase the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in your body, depleting the cells that protect against chronic diseases, like Cancer and heart disease.
Have you ever heard the saying that refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die? How true that is.
Throughout my long career in politics and public life, I have often been asked how I can forgive those who have stabbed me in the back, those who have vilified me without cause, those who have killed in the name of freedom, and those who oppressed the people I serve, forcing on us the gravest indignities and pain. Some even suggest that forgiving these things shows weakness, as though it somehow nullifies the wrong that was done.
But I know the great price my Saviour paid so that I may be forgiven. If I am forgiven by Christ, how can I refuse to forgive my brother? Forgiveness is not weakness. It takes a profound amount of strength, for our human nature cries out for revenge. But when we do forgive, we are set free. We are healthier, happier and more productive. We are, in fact, saved.
Let us therefore celebrate the words of Christ this Easter: “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” Who do you need to forgive?