Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34 NIVUK)
It has always amazed me that these words from Jesus on the cross convey the idea of a continued past action, which means that Jesus was continually saying,
Father, forgive them. In other words, he prayed this over and over as he was being crucified. As the nails were driven through his wrists, and then as his feet were nailed to the beam, and the soldiers gambled for his clothes, he is praying again and again
Father, forgive them.
Who was Jesus speaking about when he repeatedly said those words? Certainly, the soldiers performing the actual act of crucifixion. Also included were the religious leaders that handed Jesus to Pilate. But in a broader sense, he was praying for the entire world. For you and me, because it was all of us through our sin that put Jesus on the cross, and all of us need forgiveness.
Because it was God in the flesh who was dying on the cross, his words of forgiveness tell me a couple of things. First, divine forgiveness knows no limits. Nothing is too wrong or too big for God to forgive. If he can, and he does, forgive humanity for killing his Son, he will forgive anything. And, he is the God that just keeps on forgiving, over and over, again and again,
‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21-22) as Jesus told Peter .
Secondly, forgiveness is not selective. God doesn’t forgive some and not others. There are no boundaries to his forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that we shall love our enemies
(Matthew 5:44) and by doing so we show we are the children of our Father in heaven
(Matthew 5:45). All of humanity became God’s enemies because of their sin
(Colossians 1:21) and yet while we were still God’s enemies Jesus died forgiving us all and reconciling us to the Father (Romans 5:10). All are included, all have been forgiven, such is the extent of God’s forgiveness.
Yes, it is human to err, and we have all done that. But thank God to forgive is divine, and he has done that for all of us without limitation.
Father help us not to forget all your benefits, especially that you are the one who forgives all our sins no matter how extreme. Help us to receive your healing forgiveness from the inside out through your love today and every day.
Have a forgiving week.