“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”Luke 23:34
The point of the gospels is to lead us to the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. These are the historical and theological realities on which the Christian faith hangs. Jesus utters several statements on his way to the crucifixion as well as from the cross that help us understand his mind. He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what was taking place. He knew He was an innocent man dying at the hands of guilty sinners. Yet, even from great physical and emotional agony He has the presence of mind to care and pray for those who torturing Him.
A seminary professor once told me that ignorance and arrogance look the same in a person. When someone hurts us it is easy to ascribe to them all sorts of arrogant motives. However, many times the injury comes not because someone is maliciously against us, but because they are ignorant of what they are doing. They may not even know they are hurting us. Certainly ignorance isn’t innocence, but it isn’t also necessarily malevolent.
How clearly Jesus sees the issue of sin even from the cross. He is literally in the the midst of paying for their sin as he intercedes for them. They didn’t know what they were doing that day, but they would know one day. And on that day, there would be mercy for all those who would come to Jesus in repentance. He was willing to forgive them even while they were crucifying Him.
As I reflected on this verse this morning I couldn’t help but contemplate the way that I have seen and understood some sins in my own life. There are things I’ve done in the past and that I understand more about now. At the time I thought they were no big deal. I look back and realize I was ignorant. I didn’t see everything rightly. I am thankful that God in His overwhelming grace chose to love me despite my sin. As I contemplate how God loves me, that even while I was sinner Christ would die for me (Romans 5:8), I can’t help but examine how I deal with those who sin against me. Certainly I don’t see with the clarity that Jesus sees sin, but there are moments where others have sinned against me that I need to recognize that sometimes people sin out of ignorance and that at the end of the day, forgiveness is more important than offense.
Father, thank you for loving me so much that while I was still dead in my trespasses and sin that Christ died for me. Thank you for the hope of the resurrection. Thank you for the amazing grace poured out on my life each day. Please continue to cultivate the character of Christ in my life. Let me be quick to forgive. Let me be concerned with the wholeness of others more than I am about perceived offenses today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.