Day 26 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

SCRIPTURE

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ”

Luke 23:34

It is impossible to comprehend the level of physical and emotional pain Jesus experienced on the cross. Even more unimaginable is the suffering he endured as the Sacrificial Lamb paying the price for our sin. “For God made (Jesus), the only one who did not know sin to (actually) become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (TPT). Jesus, The Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin itself…for us.

Have you ever thought about why Jesus didn’t just say, “I forgive you” to those who were mocking and torturing him? After all he is God. He had pronounced forgiveness to others before. He was the one being persecuted. He would have been well within his right to do so.  There are layers of meaning as to why Jesus did this. For our time of reflection we will look at two things Jesus did for us when he prayed these precious words on the cross.

First, on the cross we see the river of forgiveness that flowed from the heart of Christ as he lovingly prayed for his murderers. Jesus gifted us with a powerful picture of the height, the depth, and the width of his love and trustworthiness as our intercessor. Why is this so important? Have you ever sinned and afterward suffered from feelings of guilt and shame so much so that you withdrew from God and others? Of course, we all have.  

We need the revelation of Jesus as Intercessor for those times we suffer the effects of sin and we are (consciously or unconsciously) tempted to move away from God and withdraw into the shadows. And it is on the cross as Jesus prayed for his persecutors, that he gains our eternal trust. He does so by letting us see that nothing could prevent him from standing in the gap for us and that he will always intercede to Father God for our total forgiveness.

Second, even in death Jesus taught us how to lovingly best care for our hearts while we pray. Let me explain: it is so painful to be hurt, betrayed, and wounded by others. Sometimes even as we forgive those who have hurt us, we secretly hope that God will punish them or that they suffer some kind of “karma” for the wrong that has been done to us. The problem with keeping score and locking others up in our own personal “dungeon of unforgiveness”, is we have to stay down in the darkness ourselves to make sure that our captors remain in our emotional prison of offense. By proxy we are keeping ourselves locked up in pain and darkness.

It is good and needful for us to forgive those who have hurt us. It is also important for us to follow Jesus’ example and ask God to forgive those who have wounded us AND to not hold their sin against them. True freedom is found in saying, “Father forgive them”. On the cross, in death, Jesus showed us how to live transcendently. He does so by asking his Father to clear the record of his persecutors.

We can have confidence that Jesus fully forgives us of all of our sin. By unreservedly receiving his love and forgiveness we are empowered to share the gift of forgiveness with ourselves and with those who have transgressed against us.

REFLECTION

Are there any places in your life where you are suffering from guilt and shame?

Have you withdrawn from God and others because of feelings of hurt, guilt, or shame?

Jesus is interceding for you now. Do you need to receive his intercession? Do you need the Father’s forgiveness today?

Have you made bad choices (little or big) and suffered the consequences of those choices? If so would you be willing to offer yourself forgiveness today?

Have you been hurt by someone else? Would you be willing to name the hurt today? Would you be willing to ask God to help you pray, “Father forgive them?”

RESPONSE

Father God, I want to follow in the footsteps of your precious Son Jesus. He taught us to pray, “forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 23:34). I want to start by saying, “forgive me Lord”. I want to offer your forgiveness to those who have hurt and wounded me…intentionally or unintentionally. I want to ask you now to help me say, “Father forgive them”.  

I want to release anyone and everyone from the dark dungeon of my own unforgiveness. I don’t want to keep anyone in prison and I don’t want to stand guard making sure others can’t escape my emotional prison anymore either. I open the door. I turn to you, to The Light. I’m leaving the dark to join you now. I want communion with you Jesus. Being in the light with you is more important than anything else to me.

Amen.

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