Sixth in a six-week series on “forgiveness”
“Father, forgive them — for they know not what they do.”
Never before or since have there ever been words spoken or prayed like these that Jesus prayed that day as He hanged there on the Cross, dying for our sins (Luke 23:34). Yet, He willingly prayed them because of His great Love for us.
Just a few hours before His closest followers abandoned Him, one of them (Judas) sold Him out to the religious rulers for 30 pieces of silver—the amount normally given to the owner of a slave if your bull happened to gore him to death. Another one (Peter) thrice-denied that he even knew Jesus, adding curse words to his third denial, not realizing Jesus was watching and listening to it all (Matthew 26:69-75; Lk. 22:61).
Yet, still from the Cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”
How many of us could/would have done that?
Likewise, how many of us would have stood quietly by while being falsely accused of this-and-that by lying witnesses? Or, how many of us could have done nothing when others were spitting in our face…pulling out parts of our beard by its roots…shredding our back with a cat-of-nine-tails…or viciously nailing us to a cross when we knew we’d done nothing wrong?
And, to think, that this One, Who’d calmed the winds and waves by speaking and raised a dead man back to life, willingly allowed all of this to happen so we could be forgiven and pardoned from our sins.
Yes, what kind of Love is this?
Truly, a God-sized Love.
He was no religious martyr or misguided zealot, this Man from Galilee; neither was He a victim of others’ callused or murderous ways.
No, He CHOSE to go to the Cross — for He knew there was no other way we could be forgiven and “freed from the curse of the Law and God’s Wrath” (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10, 13; Romans 5:9-10). He knew “without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).
That’s why He allowed Himself to be “despised and rejected of men … be wounded for our transgressions … bruised for our iniquities … and have all of our sins laid on Him, Who knew no sin” (Isaiah 53:3, 5-6; II Corinthians 5:21). No wonder John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
He could have escaped such suffering. He could have stopped the laws of physics, preventing the hammer from striking the nails or, as the old Gospel song said, “He could have called 10,000 angels to set Him free.”
But, He didn’t.
All because He loved us and wanted for us to spend eternity with Him.
Nothing else could do this for us. No amount of good works or benevolent deeds can “cleanse our consciences from dead works so we could serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). Only His Blood could do that.
All because of His “great Love for us, who are ungodly sinners and His enemies from birth” (Romans 5:6, 8, 10).
Oh, dear Reader, here’s praying you’ll spend some time this week reflecting on Jesus’ suffering for you and what it cost Him so you could be forgiven. I also hope you’ll think about the implications of the meaning of Easter and what His Resurrection means for you in this day-and-age of ever-increasing hopelessness and despair.
And, here’s praying this will lead you to allow His Life and forgiving Love to fill every part of your life so you can become one of His “consecrated conduits.” God bless you.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.