But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing " And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.Luke 23:34(NASB)
In the midst of the most shocking miscarriage of justice, when hatred against God and His Christ reach the pinnacle of humanities evil, we have a glimpse into the Father-heart of God and the infinite passion and love of the Son with these eternal words: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Despised, rejected, and dying on the Cross with outstretched arms of love to redeem mankind from their sins, the first thought on the mind of our Saviour was not hatred, revenge, or self-pity, but eternal forgiveness. He demonstrated a depth of forgiving love that passes our understanding.
There was no resentment or anger, no bitterness, no feelings of hostility or damaged pride in this statement, but it encapsulated a depth of divine forgiveness that was able to lovingly embrace the crude Roman soldiers that greedily envied His bloodied garment and cast lots for his seamless cloak.
It included the governor and his cowardly compromise, and it encompassed the false witnesses with their fabricated allegations and false testimony. It embraced the Jewish nation who screamed, "His blood be on us and on our children," together with the scheming Jewish leaders and Caiaphas, the high priest who unwittingly prophesied: "It is expedient for us, that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." Never were words more pregnant with meaning or more powerfully poignant than this utterance from Israel's chief Priest.
Oh yes, Christ's heart of forgiveness not only embraced all who were present and participated in this historic miscarriage of justice, but His gracious forgiveness stretched right back to the first fallen couple who disobeyed God by eating of the tree of knowledge, and reached forward into the far-distant future, for His gracious forgiveness includes you and it includes me. His infinite forgiveness touches the lives of all who are born of woman, all who are of the seed of Adam's fallen race.
But this was no tragic accident. This did not catch God out by surprise. Forgiveness was on the heart of the Father Who planned for the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus from before time began, before space was created, before the worlds were made. The holy Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world so that all rebellious human-kind could be offered the free gift of redemption for the forgiveness of sins, an escape from death's cruel sting, a release from the curse of the Law, and eternal salvation with life more abundant.
The love that flooded from the heart of the Father, and the blood that streamed from the body of the Saviour was a demonstration of divine forgiveness and love divine so that all who believe on His name are forgiven - forever.
Loving Father, I bless and thank You that Your love was so great that You sent Jesus to be my Saviour and that His loving forgiveness includes me. I pray that forgiveness may be a quality that I seek to develop so that I show forth the love of Christ in my life to His praise and glory, AMEN.