“Father, forgive them…” Luke 23:34
Confession time! After all my years, 28+, of preaching and re-searching the scriptures, I have had my eyes opened! The Cross is not simply about Jesus dying for all of us—it is about forgiveness. It was the greatest example on earth of someone being humiliated, tortured, and put to death in the cruelest, meanest way possible, and yet, some of his last words were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Christ held no animosity against those that put Him to death—or tried to, for you see, no one can kill God—“He is, was, and always will be. His is the Alpha and the Omega.” (Rev. 1:8)
Jesus’ exclamation is not only for those who tortured Him and nailed Him to the Cross, it is for you and me—everyone. No one is excluded from His Holy words, “Father, forgive them.” Our Holy God recognizes that believing in Him, His power, His ever-presence is a process. It consists of hills and valleys and sometimes seemingly unsurmountable mountains. It is not until you get through and are on the other side, that you realize there was “Someone” who was helping you, otherwise you couldn’t have made it through the storm. Slowly your eyes are opened.
Paul finally understood all of this. He was blinded by the light of Christ (Acts 9) and saw through the blackness in which he had been living. He was never the same again. Instead of killing Christians he began calling others to Christ. He encouraged those who knew and believed Jesus to continue in spite of any rejections they may suffer. Paul knew, he had been there, the place of darkness without Christ as Lord and Savior. And now that he knew, the magnitude of forgiveness, he committed himself to follow his Savior’s lead.
Paul preached about overcoming evil with good. He said, to the church in Rome, the mega center of cruelty. “…if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink, for by doing this you will pile burning coals upon their heads.” (Romans 12:20) In other words, “Forgive them.” They will be mystified and will not be able to understand what is happening. It will take all the wind out of their sails! For you see, they are driven by the Enemy who wants to rile you into sin. By the way, this is sin of which you have already been forgiven because of the Cross! So not fall for the Enemy’s tricks!
I urge you, right now, at this very moment, throw off that grudge you’ve been carrying, “forget what is behind and strain forward to what lies ahead,” (Phil 3:13) for it is a new day, a new beginning, God is doing a new thing within you, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) For those who have forgiven much will be forgiven even more—the Cross has made it so. Thank you, Jesus.
Dear Lord, help me to forgive and forget. You are Lord overall and will stay true to Your promise to save me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN
Matthew 5:44 Acts 8:60 Romans 12:14, 18 I Corinthians 4:12 I Peter 2:20-21 I Timothy 1:13, 14
So, whenever you see a cross be reminded to forgive as you have been forgiven.