“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)
The sayings of Jesus, while He hung on the Cross, say much about Him. Forgiveness is a key element of Jesus’ coming to earth. It is only logical that He would extend forgiveness to those who are crucifying Him because that is what God’s plan is all about. The truth here, as with so many of us, is that they didn’t know what they were actually doing. They were thinking only of the present and the world they could see and not the future of the eternity unseen. Jesus requests, God the Father, to not hold this action against those crucifying Him. And of course, He didn’t, because it was part of His plan also.
Forgiveness may be the hardest thing the Lord asks of us. We know that our natural reaction is revenge or holding a grudge. And that will be our natural reaction without God’s presence in our life. When we are able to forgive, we know that it is not of us but of God’s presence that makes it possible. We feel and experience His power for it. God first loved us and calls us to love. God first forgave us and calls us to forgive. And truly, the amazing thing is that He does make both possible as we let Him into our lives through our trusting Jesus.
Heavenly Father, we know that forgiveness is beyond us. It is a godly characteristic that only You can give. Help us with Your Spirit to extend forgiveness to those who hurt us so that we can be healthy in spirit, mind, and body. Help us forgive so that burdens are lifted from our lives, and we can have peace. Bitterness serves no good. Help us be rid of it in forgiveness.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.