Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34, The Message)
Jesus said these words that fateful Friday, when He was dying on the cross for our sins. A REAL death. A horrific death. One designed for the very worst kind of criminals.
For years, I simply thought this passage meant He wanted to forgive the soldiers who tortured and nailed him … or maybe Herod and Pilate, the government officials who’d condemned Him … or even the Chief priests and other religious leaders who’d read all the Scriptures but understood so little of them … who’d completely abandoned Him.
“Father, forgive THEM …” Didn’t it mean those other people?
This Holy week, I cannot get these words fro Jesus out of my head. I cannot help but wrestle with the idea that Jesus didn’t just mean he wanted God to forgive all of the humans involved in His crucifixion.
HE MEANT THE WHOLE WORLD.
He meant every one of us.
“Father, forgive us all …”
Yes, we humans.
All of us.
The whole collective We who don’t know what we are doing. God’s word tells us,“There is no one righteous, no not one” (Ecclesaistes 7:20, NIV).
Together, we are in need of a Savior. With a capital S. Not the little ‘s’ that might rescue us from a lake or a riptide or while we’re dying from a heart attack. But the whole huge save-us-from-eternal-death-and-damnation-through-CAPITOL-PUNISHMENT capital ‘S’.
The real deal. A Savior.
And then … I think about my own heart. About my own life, my propensity to do harm, or just plain not do enough good when I know others need it.
Father, forgive me. Please. I am humbled and amazed at Your everlasting grace.
“Christ also suffered. He died once for the sins of all of us guilty sinners although he himself was innocent of any sin at any time, that he might bring us safely home to God” (1 Peter 3:18a, TLB).
This is the prayer of my heart:
Father, forgive ME, for I know not what I am doing.
I am mindful this Easter that You REALLY DID live here on this planet.
And I know deep in my soul that You really did die an excruciatingly painful death on that cross. All because they didn’t … no, I mean, WE didn’t … and most importantly, I mean, I … simply don’t know … what on earth I am doing, apart from You.
In Jesus’ sweet, blood-shed Name I pray, Amen.