Forgive Them, They Do Not Know What They Are Doing
Reading: Luke 23:33-38
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” [NASB1995®]
The image speaks for itself. Jesus is on the cross, and around him there is only mockery, contempt and offense.
He is crucified with two criminals. Soldiers make His clothes the object of games and bets; and they distribute them among themselves. The rulers tease, saying, “Is this not the Christ? Save yourself! The soldiers also mock Jesus. Even the sign hanging on the cross is intended to belittle the one on the cross.
But Jesus doesn’t complain; he doesn’t cry; he doesn’t hate… he prays. And he asks the Father to forgive those who treat Him this way: the soldiers, the priests, the rulers.
When we look at this scene we need to remember that we have been called to forgive and love even those who hate us. Jesus is the most amazing example of this.
And what a gospel-laden scene this is, in which His love is expressed by giving Himself in this way. “Save yourself!” they tell Him, ignoring that He, in giving His life like this, is saving us. “Forgive them!” says Jesus. And God’s forgiveness will reach even many of those who are mocking today, ignorant of the wonder of what is happening (see Acts 6:7).
MEDITATE: Jesus has given us a wonderful example of forgiveness and love. Let us imitate Him. But above all, don’t forget to be surprised by the depth of Christ’s love for us. While He was rejected and mocked, He prayed… “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Translation By: Emily Stader