The Word of Forgiveness
Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
The first saying of Jesus from the cross traditionally called ‘The Word of Forgiveness’, theologically interpreted as Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness for those crucifying him, the Roman soldiers and all involved in crucifying him. Jesus on the cross forgiving the very people who put him there shows the kind of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness that God has for everyone. This is a powerful example of God’s love and acceptance for all who do wrong, which is all of us. We have all short of our best and done things to cause pain and chaos.
Not many of us could mirror the same kind of forgiveness that Jesus exhibits here in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus while he was in enormous pain prayed that God the Father would forgive those who were doing evil, who did violence, and lived against God’s way. God is not indifferent or neutral; God cares and is intimately involved in creation. God does respond in anger. There is judgment, judgment that insists on righting what once went wrong and establishing trust, peace, and love in relationship.
When we abandon what we want for what God wants, forgive others when we want to punish them than we are suffering for and with Christ, no longer is our ego in control, but God is. Never are we really in control, but sometimes we pretend that we are, sometimes we like to think that we are. This is a lie. We delude ourselves to think that we control our life. Jesus is about shattering all false barriers that keep us from living an honest God centered life. Jesus shows us from the cross, from his suffering for all of creation what it looks like to let God be in charge. Jesus sows us what it means to follow God wherever he leads us. Jesus puts flesh on God and invites into the cosmic dance of communion.
Forgiving others is releasing the false notion that we are special that people who treat us badly need to be punished for it. When someone wrongs, we are to respond in the same way Jesus did through his life and on the cross, forgive. Christians do not put themselves before others. Jesus on the cross, prayed for forgiveness for those who put him there. He didn’t curse them. He forgave them. A key attribute of a Christian is forgiveness, because that is a key attribute of Jesus. When we center on Jesus rather than our own petty concerns and desires and we pray God’s will be done not ours and mean it that will produce a certain kind of suffering, but through this suffering, we will transform into more Christ-like Christians.
Some say when you are going through hell keep going. Don’t stop. Keep moving. When in the midst of suffering if we listen to the darkness than we would wither and die. Some say to not doubt in the dark. If on the cross, Jesus had spit down on the Romans and cursed them, it would have ended differently. No resurrection. Drinking the cup in the midst of suffering means trusting that God has a reason for and a way out of our time of suffering that it will be for the good and all to the glory of God.
Resurrection is near, but first we must go through the crucifixion.
Grace and Peace