When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33-34)
This is why I love Jesus. Hanging on his cross — being tortured, humiliated and being made a wretched example for the world to see — Jesus asks God to forgive. What better proof do we need of how far and wide and deep the love of Jesus extends? Who does “them” include? The Roman guards, I think. And Pilate. And the Jewish leaders who turned him over. And Peter who denied him. And probably even Judas who betrayed him. And maybe even you and me, whose sins were part of why the cross was necessary. None of the people Jesus forgave had asked for it. The grounds for Jesus’ forgiveness was “they do not know what they are doing.” Doesn’t that apply to nearly 100% of the insults, offenses and hatreds we endure from other people — they hurt us unknowingly or in ignorance, rather than out of malice. When Paul writes his definition in 1 Corinthians 13, he starts with “Love is patient.” I need to embrace and enact the kind of love that is enduringly patient, understanding and forgiving to all the people in my life who “don’t know what they are doing.” I need that kind of forgiveness. I need to give it.
Lord, you know infinitely more than I do, and you tell me to love everybody, which I can’t do without forgiving them. May your love in me overcome all the circumstances of my life like your forgiveness did on your cross. Amen.