Luke 23:34 – “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
I have been prompted through various indications to touch on the subject of forgiveness. First, this scripture was something I was hearing on last week when contiplating what to blog. Then by mere happenstance I was watching a movie with family that we randomly chose called “The Railway Man” (good movie) and the concluding theme and focus was forgiveness. To top that, we happened upon an estate sale on Saturday of this past weekend and my wife purchased some items that I went to pick up on Sunday. After obtaining the items, the man who was with the company conducting the sale walked out with me and began to talk about the goodness of our Lord. He had suffered a dibiltating injury and he was in some pain and discomfort physically but he was delighting in how the Father had bought him through the valleys of life. He and I had a conversation for about thirty minutes but near the end he described how his brother had stolen $350,000 from an inheritance he should have had. He said at the time of this incident eight years ago, he had given his life to Christ. He indicated I could be in prison at this moment if it was not for the words that Jesus implored from the cross. He said to me, I heard in my spirit, “forgive them; for they know not what they do .” Now you must understand I had not discussed ANYTHING about that scripture with him but it was to me confirmation to touch on this subject.
The first question that comes to my mind is who is the “THEM”? This request seems to be nondescript, plain, indistinct. “Father, forgive them.” He does not say, Father, forgive the priest that rendered false accusation. He does not say, Father, forgive the soldiers who have nailed me to this cross. Neither does He say, Father, forgive my disciples who have seemingly forsaken me. From His lofty position on the cross seeing the distant future He does not say Father, forgive those who will in the ages to come l turn their back to me and reject your sacrifice and sin against You, yet with those ten words He includes them. He does not mention a specific accusation or accuse a specific person, race, culture or group. Even though He being God knew the names of the soldiers that nailed Him to the cross He does not mention their names for prosterity to ridicule throughout the ages. AND no, He is not willing to mention their descriptive mission saying, forgive my murderers. There are no words of specific and directed accusation, only “Father, forgive them.”
Again, who is the THEM? Because it is not descriptive we can be included. He made room for us, too. I know the tendancy is to think that the “them” is the Roman soldiers and Jewish priests and the Roman government and it was, but it was also you and me. “For they know not what they do”. They think they know but they do not.
I am glad that He made it possible for me to live under the umbrella of the Father’s forgiveness that covers my purposefull and ignorant actions that documents my guilt and reveals my “filthy righteousness”. Yet we do not know the shallowness of our self-righteousness. We think, because we go to church regularly, or we were christened or were baptized or say our prayers or read a chapter in the Bible every day; that we do not merit His forgiveness. We think our religiousness outward performances, makes us exempt from His forgiveness but I still hear Him saying “They know not what they do.” They are trusting in their own actions and performance thereby negating my redemptive work through the cross.
The timing of the prayer is intriging also. It is in the midst of His pain, His humiliate His ultimate challenge that He petitions for “us” requesting our sanctuary, the Father’s forgiveness. Would that be our request or would it be “get them” Father.. look at what they are doing to me? Today what is our prayer for those who are terrorizing this world today. ISIS, brutally murdering innocent people of all cultures.. what is our prayer? Abusers, both governmental and domestic, viciously beating those we should be protecting, what is our prayer? Those who are being abused, tortured, and victimized in ALL countries by ALL tribes, nations,races and cultures. What is our prayer? Father, thank you for your undeserved forgiveness towards us, because we still do not realize what we do and how short we come to Your GLORY!! The heart of religion seeks and desires to control other men, cultures and nations. Jesus wants to set men free to live through Him, free, whole and forgiven. Oh how He loves us…
The real take away is also realizing IF we say the same petition it will release us to live life and not be painfully chained to the wrong visited upon us. I pray this was a highlighted message even if for just one person.