For our Good Friday service my Church decided to have seven individuals read and briefly reflect upon the seven statements of Jesus while He was on the cross. I had the privilege to present the second words of Christ. What follows was my manuscript, perhaps you will find it an encouraging Holy Week read:
Our next text is Luke 23:34. It reads:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
These are some of Jesus’ earliest words on the cross and there’s a lot of questions that could be asked about this statement. It’s shocking really. He’s petitioning the Father to forgive. He’s recognizing the ignorance of those who just nailed Him to the cross.
No doubt there are some amazing observations to made here. But I want us to focus on one aspect that I think is the most obvious and the most beautiful. And that’s the heart of forgiveness that is displayed by Christ in this moment, which is reflective of the disposition of His heart at all times.
And this portrait of stunning grace was crafted while on the cross, the fading echos of piecing nails not too far removed. The jeering laughter of those whom Jesus was referring to still filling the air. Though they beat Him, though they sneer, though they are killing the Son of God… still we hear: forgive for they do not know what they are doing. These are the soldiers killing Jesus Christ and this is His heart and disposition towards them. Father, forgive them.
This is the heart of our Savior, our Lord, and our God. And we find it so clearly revealed not in a pleasurable moment, not in the palace, not on the throne, not even in the city gates, but while cast out, mocked, beaten, pierced, and hanging with death approaching and the tomb awaiting.
Now my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us marvel at the forgiveness that radiates from our Savior. For we see it here expressed to those who are actively killing Him. Now, if that’s His attitude, His disposition, His heart towards a hostile and violent world, what then must His heart be toward His children when they come Him weary and heavy laden? Broken and tired by sin? Desperate to but touch the heme of His cloak?
How often our pride, our doubts, our fears hinder us from believing in the depth of His love and the heights of His forgiveness. Look no further brother. Search no longer sister. We are never too far gone. His grace is always within reach. We are adopted children. We are sons and daughters. We are His. And here, on the Cross, we see just how ready He is to forgive.