Jesus made a striking statement as he hung on a Roman cross. These three words still speak loudly throughout the centuries: “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34) Imagine. What kind of love is this that he would say this while enduring the extreme pain of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, merciless beatings, and the torture of crucifixion.
When in pain, most of us do not consider others. We naturally cry out for relief and sympathy. But listen to what Jesus said. He did not condemn. He did not spew hate or judgment. He spoke love.
In case anyone should think that he was speaking strictly of the Roman soldiers, the truth is that he was speaking of all of us. The “them” is you and me! Jesus interceded on our behalf. Isaiah prophesied concerning the Messiah when he said, “he himself bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12)
The strength of God the Father’s ability to forgive is expressed in the sacrifice of the Son. That is the wonderful gospel. God has actually extended forgiveness! And what a debt we owe him. Every time we have told God to “mind his own business” by our choices, we have sinned.
Even the offenses between human beings were first sins against God. As offenders, we choose to ignore God, become selfish, self-protective, fearful, or angry, and then strike out against another. The disregard of God is sin against him. King David understood this when he repented of his murder of a man because of his own lust for a woman: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 53:3,4) God would be righteous in judging a world that has largely ignored him, but the heart of the Father is revealed in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17)
Consider this story: A father and his daughter were walking through a grassy field. In the distance they saw a prairie fire and they realized that it would soon engulf them. The father knew there was only one way of escape. They quickly began a fire right where they were and burned a large patch of grass. When the huge fire drew near, they stood on the section that had already burned. The girl was terrified but her father assured her, “The flames can’t get to us. We are standing where the fire has already been.”
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins and so, when anyone stands where God’s justice was satisfied, that is, in Christ, they are safe from coming judgment.
God forgives. Hallelujah! We appreciate your Comments