“When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” vs.33-34a
These words of Jesus are not recorded in the other gospels, but we can be grateful that Luke included them in his. It’s here that we begin to understand more completely the core of Jesus’ mission. He was a great and profound teacher to be sure, but he actually embodied his teachings. He didn’t just tell his followers to love their enemies, but in the crunch, on the verge of death, he forgave his killers. He did what he told us to do! And with those few words Jesus established forgiveness as the central message of the gospel. There is just no place for revenge or for getting even in our lives. Even if our offenders haven’t asked to be forgiven, there’s absolutely no reason for us to withhold it! Now that’s not easy at all–vengeance is probably one of the most common human reactions. It gives deep satisfaction when we can hurt someone who has caused injury to us. To go against that by following the Way of Jesus seems incomprehensible to most people. They want folks to have to pay for the wrong they’ve done. But what a blessing it is to have a Lord who goes against the grain and offers sweet forgiveness even when offenders don’t deserve it!
Thought for the Day: When am I most likely not to forgive?