Jesus made a striking statement as he hung on a
Roman cross. These three words still speak loudly
throughout the centuries: "Father, forgive them"
(Luke 23:34) Imagine. What kind of love is this that he
would say this while enduring the extreme pain of
betrayal, abandonment, mockery, merciless beatings,
and the torture of crucifixion.
When in pain, most of us do not consider others. We
naturally cry out for relief and sympathy. But listen to
what Jesus said. He did not condemn. He did not spew
hate or judgment. He spoke love.
In case anyone should think that he was speaking
strictly of the Roman soldiers, the truth is that he was
speaking of all of us. The "them" is you and me! Jesus
interceded on our behalf. Isaiah prophesied concerning
the Messiah when he said, "he himself bore the sin of
many and interceded for the transgressors"
The strength of God the Father's ability to forgive is
expressed in the sacrifice of the Son. That is the
wonderful gospel. God has actually extended
forgiveness! And what a debt we owe him. Every time
we have told God to "mind his own business" by our
choices, we have sinned.
Even the offenses between human beings were first sins
against God. As offenders, we choose to ignore God,
become selfish, self-protective, fearful, or angry, and
then strike out against another. The disregard of God
is sin against him. King David understood this when he
repented of his murder of a man because of his own lust
for a woman: "For I know my transgressions, and my
sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have
sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You
are justified when You speak and blameless when You
judge." (Psalm 53:3,4) God would be righteous in
judging a world that has largely ignored him, but the
heart of the Father is revealed in Jesus' words to
Nicodemus: "God did not send the Son into the world
to judge the world but that the world might be saved
through him" (John 3:17)
Consider this story: A father and his daughter were
walking through a grassy field. In the distance they saw
a prairie fire and they realized that it would soon engulf
them. The father knew there was only one way of
escape. They quickly began a fire right where they
were and burned a large patch of grass. When the huge
fire drew near, they stood on the section that had
already burned. The girl was terrified but her father
assured her, "The flames can't get to us. We are
standing where the fire has already been."
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins and so, when
anyone stands where God's justice was satisfied, that is,
in Christ, they are safe from coming judgment.
God forgives. Hallelujah!
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