Last Words | Forgive Them | They Do Not Know
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
The stench was overpowering. Men shouted and flies buzzed. Soldiers cursed and spat. Just another execution day. Convicted criminals writhed and screamed as heavy spikes sank into tender flesh. Only one Man was silent. His battered form lay stretched between two crossbeams, feet and wrists tied tightly while Roman solders positioned iron spikes above his wrists and ankles. Anvil hit spike with a ring that shattered the air and the Man’s back arched in agony. His face, contorted with pain, tilted upward and He squinted at His executioner. This Roman had the image of God all over him and he didn’t know it. He didn’t know he was killing his only hope. Blood-caked lips parted to form the words: “Father…forgive them…they don’t know…”
Imagine the response that got. “We know what we’re doing, all right. Watch this!” The Roman executioners thought they knew what they were doing. The Jewish leaders thought they knew what they were doing. The bystanders who jeered and spat thought they knew what they were doing. But they were wrong. Often people hurt us out of their own world of hurt. Focused on their own perspective, they have no idea the damage they caused. We tend to see those who hurt us as evil, but Jesus saw God’s image in every face. “You don’t know what they did to me!” we cry. “I can’t forgive!” And Jesus turns His bloody head and, through two thousand years of history, looks right at us. “If I can do it, you can too,” He says. How can we accept a forgiveness that cost Him so much, but refuse to forgive someone else?
Final Thought: If Jesus could forgive those who were torturing Him, how can we do anything less?
Prayer: Jesus, I can’t even image how much you suffered. And you did it so I could be forgiven by God. My sin against you is far greater than any sin someone commits against me. Help me see my hurts in light of your cross. Amen.