“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus is hanging on the cross like any hardened criminal. We stand at the foot of the cross and we see only the darkening sky… the death… the misery. Jesus is dying and we are dying with Him because, after all, it is our fault.
We try to blame other characters for it but we are the ones. We are these other characters. We did it.
We blame the Pharisees… we blame Pilate… we blame the soldiers. And we are these.
The Pharisees pestered Jesus about his teachings and his assertions of authority. They were so meticulous in following all the rules, and they made so many demands from others. They destroyed in themselves any sign of human compassion. Only they were the righteous… all others were sinners. We blame them for the death of Jesus.
Pilate was the spineless governor. If he were to follow his convictions he would have freed Jesus… But Pilate’s concern was not justice… he had his own ambition… he had his own personal concerns. These were worth more than upholding justice. We blame Pilate for condemning Jesus to death.
The heartless soldiers reveled in their sadistic ways. They scourged Jesus body raw… they ridiculed Him beyond belief… they were not sensitive of what sufferings was Jesus undergoing at their hands. We do blame the soldiers for their cold-bloodedness.
But God knows that we are the Pharisees… we are Pilate… we are the soldiers.
We are those who kill the dreams of others and crush their spirits by making rules and demands that destroy life rather than give it. We do not like it that Jesus draws into his love the discarded of society… the victims of this unsympathetic world. How dare He?
We are those who stay silently on the sidelines in the battle against coercion and domination… we ignore the pain of others because we prefer our security… we help and feed others from what is superfluous in our lives and only enough to quieten our consciences.
We are the soldiers who destroy peace by our gossip and revenge…we do not turn the other cheek, we slap back and flee.
We hate to even think about the reality that we kill Jesus every day with our sins. We are enslaved by sin and we cannot do otherwise.
How long are we going to keep noticing our shortcomings in others and ignore them in ourselves? The sight of Jesus, innocent yet hanging from the cross, compels us to look at our personal, daily shortcomings and own up to them. We need to admit that we are today’s self-righteous Pharisees… that we are today’s pathetic self-centered Pilates… we are the modern-day Roman soldiers calloused by the pain of others and try to justify our cynical hearts.
In the sight of the crucified Son of God we cannot remain insensitive. While acknowledging our sins and failures, we hear the words of the crucified: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Then we realize that although we are sinners are we are also responsible for his death, we are not forsaken… we are not abandoned. Although we are capable of committing great sins, but we are forgivable and we are loved.
God can forgive us, He does forgive us, and He is always more than happy to do so. He will never turn us away. He expects us to turn back to him, like the father in the parable the prodigal son, and He will accept as we are… He will embrace us and kiss us… He will accept us back into his family… and He will celebrate our return. By God’s grace we are redeemed sinners.