Father, forgive them...

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." - Luke 23:34

After being arrested, scourged, beaten, spit on and mocked, these were the words spoken by Jesus while suspended painfully on a splintering wooden cross, naked, and dying.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

He says this to God as He looks down with sad eyes on all the people before Him who have gathered to gawk, some shaking their heads, some shouting at Him, and some weeping, but none understanding what was really happening in front of them.

Who is Jesus asking the Father to forgive? Pontius Pilate? The Roman soldiers? The Jewish Pharisees? The angry mob? Who?

And for what is He asking God to forgive them of? For rejecting and crucifying Him? For their rebellion? For their sin?

With a broken heart, Jesus pleads with God to forgive us. To forgive mankind...all of mankind of our sin: our human tendency to reject God and go our own way. We are the same mob of people yelling and cursing at Jesus, rejecting God because we would RATHER go our own way.

Jesus' cry to the Father is for forgiveness for each person born to this earth. A forgiveness that will transcend through centuries and generations of humans to come. Humans who have never seen Jesus, who have no idea who He is, who never saw what He did and who never heard His voice.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

He is reminding God of the reason why He came to earth. So we could be forgiven. He is the atonement for mankind. Even in the midst of dying, Jesus doesn't waste any time. He petitions for us straight away, asking God to forgive us. His sole purpose for being on the cross is so that we could be forgiven for all eternity. He is the sacrificial lamb who willingly is shedding His own blood so that we can live. Even if we don't realize it.

Since our creation, we have rebelled against God, desiring not His ways, but our own self-centered ways. God realized this soon after He created us and even said to Himself that He regretted creating man. God actually REGRETTED creating man!

"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. - Genesis 6: 5-6

It's not hard to understand why. Even today, we see so many people trample each other for power, lust and greed. To satisfy our appetites, we mow down the earth and drain out its resources, killing nature and wildlife along the way. We will do anything to get what we want including hurting others, our home and ourselves.

At every opportunity, we all seek to profit for ourselves, even at the expense of others. We even whine about our lack, yet could care less if others receive the same benefits. Some of our benefits are obtained through suffering, injustice, abuse or loss from others, but we don't care. We don't look too carefully at any suffering we may cause. We just want what we want. We are a selfish bunch.

This is how much we have disappointed God. And because of the fall of Adam, we are separated from God...until Jesus.

Jesus asks God to forgive us, because only forgiveness can bridge the huge chasm between God and man. Only through the sacrifice of Jesus can mankind be restored back to God. Jesus came to bring us back to God.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:12-19

Jesus came because we so desperately need to be forgiven. This is the only way. And the one reason and excuse Jesus is giving God to forgive us?

"...they don’t know what they are doing?"

That's it? That's the reason Jesus is offering God? That we just don't know what we are doing? It's the same excuse children use when they get into trouble.

"Why did you do that?"

"I don't know."

And even in this country, ignorance of the law is no excuse; you still have to pay for your crime. But Jesus' reason for God to forgive mankind is merely that we don't know what we're doing. It's actually a pretty flimsy reason.

He is pleading with God for compassion, making the excuse (for us) that though yes, we are sinful, violent, unjust, unforgiving, hateful, controlling, greedy, selfish and uncaring, it is because we are blind to the Kingdom of God. Our soul does not recognize God. We are as lost sheep, oblivious to how far we have wandered away from Him. We have NO IDEA of the magnitude of the LOVE that God has for us and how much we have strayed.

Our nature is to run away from God as fast as we can and stretch out our arms to grab everything in sight to consume and spit out. Instead of givers, we are takers. We are our own bosses, and as egocentric people, we think we have everything figured out, we think we know everything. EVERYONE thinks they know everything.

"Professing to be wise, they became fools." - Romans 1:22

But Jesus is saying that we don't know ANYTHING. We even think we know the mind of God. We think we know what God wants, who He loves, who He hates, who is saved and who isn’t. We argue, accuse and bash each other and use God's name to send each other to hell, but we are so off the mark.

So many people are uncertain of whether they are saved, but what Jesus' words mean is that He understands. He knows our hearts and knows that as human beings, it is our nature to sin. Our tendency is to fail. We are a mess, but He understands and it is OK. The idea that God understands and will forgive us, is INCREDIBLE.

Jesus words of compassion and understanding are profound. These words spoken as He is dying, tell of His incredible love for us. Like a mother who gives a reason for a misbehaving child, Jesus is asking God to pardon us because we just don't know any better. He is using this excuse despite the intentionally horrendous deeds and actions we as a race continually inflict upon each other, even doing deeds that we think are serving God which include prejudice, war and violence. But Jesus knows. He is a direct recipient dying on the cross, a victim of betrayal, inhumanity and injustice.

Yet, Jesus and God both understand this about mankind. We have been allowed to hear these words from Jesus the Son, to God the Father and God has accepted His reason and is in agreement with Jesus. That we as a human race really don't know what we are doing.

God created a wonder in mankind, full of potential and light. His hope is for us to live in close bond and fellowship with Him. This includes living in peace with each other and the earth, which He created for us to live in.

During His time on earth, Jesus spent His ministry teaching and showing us by example how to live the way God originally intended for us to live.

To LOVE God and LOVE each other...IN ACTION.

And after He taught us all of this, THEN did He willingly sacrifice Himself in our place, so that God would accept us back into fellowship.

It is now up to us to accept this sacrifice in faith as an acknowledgment to God for His great love and celebration of the newfound relationship we can now have with Him.

Because of the forgiveness of God, He has opened up His universe for us to share with Him despite our human failings. This reveals that God is not a tyrant. He is not a monster. But He is a God of compassion. A God of love. A God of kindness.

This is the God who I want to worship. Amen.

 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

 

© 2008 Edrick


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