Luke 23:34-35 — Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
Jesus on the cross. God himself, clothed in human flesh, taking our place and paying the penalty for all the sins of humankind. What an amazing picture of God’s love for us. I am still amazed at this picture of God’s love today. Jesus, thank you.
As Jesus begins to labor for breath, every agonizing draw of air tearing more of his flesh, every slight move putting more pressure on the nails in his hands and feet — Jesus says an incredibly brief prayer for those present at this event of torture…“Father, forgive them.”
The crux of all Christianity is forgiveness. Divine forgiveness imparted to all mankind, yes, but more than that — the ability for human beings to forgive in the same way as our divine Father. Jesus, not after the pain has ended, not when he could process and find some perspective, right in the midst of the pain asked God to forgive his tormentors. While they still stood mocking, “Save yourself!” While they gambled for his clothes. Jesus forgave.
This puts to rest all our objections, “I can’t forgive them, the pain is still too much.” “I can forgive, but I certainly won’t forget!” “You don’t understand how much they hurt me and you want me to forgive them?” “Yes, but I’m not Jesus, I’m not God…how can I forgive like they did?” There is no easy answer for these questions, but they have all been answered by Jesus on the cross. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
Still think you can do this Christianity thing on your own? Think again. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it is impossible…in our own strength. But all things are possible for God! Nothing is too hard for Him! You must rely on the Holy Spirit and the power of God for everything in faith! The flesh counts for nothing! Love is the ultimate ethic of Christianity, but the outworking of that love is forgiveness. When Jesus prays he asks God to forgive the very people who were mocking, maligning and murdering him. Only a Savior like that can save us, because he chose not to save himself but to save the very ones that hated him — now that is Amazing Grace.
Jesus, thank You. Amen.