“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34
They treated Him with sheer contempt! With a despicable violence, they destroyed His body. They truly meted out the fiercest pain imaginable. And Jesus had the “gall” to plead with God for their forgiveness. This is, indeed, a strange last word from Jesus’ lips; strange only from our perspective. Spoken with a difficult gasp of breath, He desperately attempted to make Himself heard, for He desired to be heard, by them and by you.
Can these crucifixioners with their surrounding supporters not understand what they have done? They have just brought this torture upon Jesus with loud shouts of exuberance and vile curses. With celebratory vehemence they have ended His life. And yet, Jesus yearns for their forgiveness?
They certainly, at least at first, do not think He is the Son of the Most High God. They do not consider Him the King of Kings. They are somehow mistakenly convinced He is nothing but a common trouble maker. But if they stopped to think, they would conclude He has not done anything wrong. If they put two and two together, they will know He has been amateurishly and falsely accused by liars. They instead wantonly join with a crowd of false accusers. They are caught up in the passions of a mob.
Will they be ashamed of their actions the next day? Will their consciences accuse them of wrong doing? After all, God’s law is written on their hearts. Oh, they will experience perhaps a pang of shame when they are alone. But they will quickly seek the applause of fellow sinners to assuage their guilt. And they will nervously rest in such companionship to forget what they have done: an abominable deed.
They fail to see that Jesus reads the hearts of men. He knows that they do not really know what they are doing. When some of them do realize the truth of what they do, it will thrust them into terrible shame; they will hardly be able to forgive themselves. And they will cry out to God for forgiveness; the forgiveness no one else can give. And they will wail with unrelenting grief.
Perhaps this is the very reason for the sad mention of them in Revelation 1, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.”
But without repentance such will sadly be too late. All which is required of them is to repent, accept and fully trust Jesus Christ as their beloved Savior and Lord, rather than a common criminal, or a false pretender. Jesus is the long awaited true Messiah sent from God.
Did you yourself pierce Him? Certainly, none of us were at the Cross. But was your sin there; thousands of years before your birth? If Jesus died for your sins, your sins were at the Cross. So, again, did you pierce Him? Genuine repentance and your promised subsequent salvation will remove your “wail” in place of rejoicing at His coming.
Jesus was doing what He Himself had preached in the Sermon on the Mount, praying for His enemies; loving those who did not love Him. Pleading with His Father to forgive them. Even in His extremity He loved truth, for He was Himself the way, the truth, and the life. In Isaiah it was prophesied that “He prayed for the transgressors.” Jesus fulfilled everything written of Him in the Word. And that perfectly, even as He died.
Remember, Jesus is your personal mediator and advocate to the Father; He regularly prays for you. “Father, see her or him through my blood poured out on Calvary. And for my sake, Forgive them!”
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there? Oh, oh, oh , oh. Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
(1st verse of Spiritual, “Were You There?”)
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