Father, forgive them.
Relationships are built on forgiveness.
We readily understand that our relationship with God is founded
on his grace in forgiving us and making us clean from the consequences of our sin.
In the same way, our relationships with our fellow Christians, who are walking the same pathway as us in following Jesus, depend on our willingness to forgive each other when things go wrong and we offend one another by our words or actions.
This week we focus on the idea of repentance and forgiveness in all our relationships.
v 34. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
War criminals have often tried to shelter behind the excuse that they were only acting under orders from a superior officer. They may have committed atrocities, but they were following instructions from a more senior person. Did that really excuse their inhumane actions?
It is worth reflecting for a moment on the situation that faced these low-ranking Roman soldiers. The order had been given to crucify Jesus; it was not their place to question their instructions – they would have expected Roman justice to have already dealt with issues of guilt or innocence. To crucify a prisoner was neither uncommon nor illegal – and besides, it acted as a warning to others not to flout the laws of the land. I suspect these soldiers felt no shred of guilt as they hammered in the nails and raised the cross. Moral questions about evidence of guilt were not their business.
Jesus readily forgave their unthinking inhumanity and cruelty; they were locked into the violent culture of their own generation.
It was not totally dissimilar from the mentality that burned witches, and sent young children up to clean chimneys. That is what happened in those days! That was the culture that engulfed the population.
So pause for a moment today and consider ‘the done thing’ in our culture; the thing we accept as normal and yet which might cause God to grieve.
Even when we might be ignorant of our guilt, God’s grace and forgiveness flows out to us.