Of all the three thousand words said by Jesus that were recorded, these are the most difficult dozen. “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” As we consider that those words meant for Jesus, and mean for us, consider this:
Forgiving is what Jesus did. It was in the prayer he taught us. It was what he instructed his disciples to do. It became part of the church that was his living presence in the world after he ascended to heaven. Forgiving for us is exceptional. For Jesus, it is what he did.
Jesus had the authority to forgive. Jesus demonstrated he was God when he forgave sinners. He control of the situation, not by pushing people around, but by forgiving those who hurt him.
Jesus didn’t wait until people understood what they did and apologized before he forgave them. Sometimes we want to people to demonstrate repentance before we will forgive. We want them to understand the harm they have done. Not Jesus. He forgave proactively.
Jesus forgave without limit. For most of us, there is some situation, some person, so act that we think is beyond forgiveness. We think that it would compromise our integrity, that we would be condoning, if we forgave. Not Jesus. He forgave the people who crucified him even as he hung on the cross.
This Sunday we continue our sermon series, “The Seven Last Words of Jesus,” by talking about these dozen words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”