Many people think that forgiveness requires a repentant offender. They must recognise their offense. They must be truly sorry for the hurt they have caused. They must seek forgiveness.
If you believe that, you must hear these words of the Lord from the cross, “Father, forgive.”
If you had asked any of the participants in the conspiracy against Jesus what they were up to, you might have heard an answer like these:
- “We are silencing a lunatic.”
- “We are saving face with the emperor.”
- “I am fending off a rebellion.”
- “We are punishing a blasphemer.”
- “I am exposing a phony.”
- “We are ending a misguided movement.”
Every one of these players was sincere. Every one of them had a cause they believed in. Despite their misgivings and machinations, every one of them for various reasons believed that the crucifixion of Jesus was the right thing to happen. None of them would ever have imagined or admitted that they were really:
- Disowning God’s Servant.
- Condemning the Holy One.
- Killing the Author of Life.
- Nailing the Christ to a Cross.
They would have regarded such things as horrendous evils. But they did not know what they were doing. Jesus recognized this important fact. These people arrayed before him, Romans and Jews, soldiers and clerics, devout and irreligious, were acting in ignorance of their offenses and needing God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ prayer for his persecutors was a plea for mercy.
Perhaps you have someone who has sinned against you and never acknowledged their offense, never felt sorry, and never asked for forgiveness. Are you carrying that weight around with you? Are you holding out for them to humble themselves before you let go? Are you showing your strength of character to hold a grudge the longest.
Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”