Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 (NIV)
At our last ministerial meeting the pastors were asked, “What is the one thing that strikes you as you think about the Easter story?” My response was a little different than the others. Yes, I recognize the incredible miracle of the resurrection but, I am always drawn to the statement in today’s reading. How could Jesus look down on his accusers, his captors, his enemies, his killers and say, “Father forgive them …” What kind of love supersedes what is being done to him? I know who I am, and forgiveness is not an easy task for me. Sometimes I can say it with my mouth but not mean it in any way in my heart.
Forgiveness is a gift to both the persons we forgive and to ourselves. Unforgiveness more often than not morphs into anger and anger into bitterness. Bitterness in our hearts soon begins to taint everything that is part of us. It ruins our physical well-being and destroys our spiritual well-being. Jesus’ capacity to forgive is not just an immeasurable gift to us but it is also an example of spiritual health and wholeness.
Of course, only Jesus can forgive completely. When Jesus says, “For they know not what they are doing.” He cuts us some slack, He extends our rope, He reminds us that we are broken and we’re prone to blunders and failures. However, there is hope. Even though we are prone to sin, He is prone to mercy and grace. He extends His arms and offers forgiveness.
God, we are broken and battered. We often don’t even know how bad we’ve messed up, but you do, and you still love us through it. Thank you. May we extend this kind of love and forgiveness to others.