33 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. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:33-34)
I imagine the scene was eerie. Clouds beginning to form on the horizon. A crowd gathered for spectacle – jeering, mocking, and attempting to shame the Jewish Messiah. Jesus, bloodied from the lashings he’d endured, exhausted after carrying his cross to the top of Golgotha, and sandwiched between two notorious criminals. What would be on your mind if you were in that position? It’s hard to know, but it’s safe to say we wouldn’t be thinking what Jesus was thinking, “Father, forgiven them.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus asks for the forgiveness of those who are killing him. Does Jesus ask for something that he has to pry out of his father’s hands? No! He asks for something that is completely in line with the nature and character of the triune God. He offers forgiveness to those who don’t ask for it and who don’t think they need it. Here’s the question: if God can forgive this most heinous sin, what is he unable to forgive? What’s worse than killing God? What’s worse than mocking the Messiah, publicly shaming him, and casting lots for his clothes? If God doesn’t respond with retributive, vindictive violence in this situation, in what situation would he respond in such a manner?
This phrase “father, forgive them,” gives us an insight into Jesus’ thoughts as he hung on the cross, but it also reveals what God is ultimately like. He is forgiving. In every situation. It’s at the core of his character. This one phrase has the ability to reframe the way we see God – and the way we see ourselves. We often carry around baggage from the ways we’ve failed and come up short. Sometimes those shortcomings play in our head like a song on repeat. What’s God’s attitude toward our sin? Forgiveness. How can we know for sure? He offers forgiveness to the men driving the nails into his hands and hoisting him to his death. This is the lavish, offensive, grace of our God.
Today, pause and confess your sin to God. He’s ready to forgive and he’s ready for you to walk in freedom. Listen to this great song, Forgiven by David Crowder, and let this truth soak into your soul.
By Ryan Paulson | See Other Authors