In the gospel, we are careful to pick up the words of Jesus as the disciples recorded them, for they were carefully chosen to make a theological point. As Jesus approached His death on the cross, His words give us a glimpse of what it must have been like for him to willing give up His life for all of us.
As Luke records, Jesus had been flogged, beaten, tortured and nailed to a beam of wood that was attached high in the air to larger beam that was anchored in the ground. The mental picture is sometimes hard to fathom. The unimaginable pain and injustice that was enacted on the “holy one of Israel” was something that generations have been moved by.
Yet, precisely during the time that Jesus was on the cross, He looked down upon the crowd surrounding him and uttered the request that their sins (the sins of torturing and killing an innocent man) would be forgiven. It seemed a strange thing to say, and yet Jesus embodied the ethic that had defined him as the Messiah - he loved His enemies and offered the “other cheek."
Jesus asked forgiveness for the angry mob that had mocked Him, the ones who had demanded His crucifixion and the ones who were casting lots as they divided up His clothes. They had all rejected Him as their Messiah and yet, the compassion and love we see pouring out of Jesus, even at this most anguishing scene, should bring us to our knees in worship.
It was on the cross that Jesus provided forgiveness for all who would ever believe in Him. The cross did not kill Jesus. The Romans or the religious leaders of that time did not kill Jesus. Jesus willingly gave up His earthly life for the sins of His people whom He loved with an everlasting love. He paid for not only the sins we all commit deliberately but also the sins we commit in ignorance.
This is what is staggering to a world that has rejected Him. Why would someone do that?
Why? Because Jesus Christ loved the world, as did His Father, and provided the means by which we can be forgiven from our sins, delivered from our guilt, and have a restored relationship with our Creator Father God who has loved us since the beginning of time.
Christ’s death brought glory to His Heavenly Father to whom He called out, “Father, forgive them….”. I am brought to tears at the thought that my sins, the ones done deliberately and those done at times in ignorance, are forgiven. And all I can do is say, “thank you,” and offer my life for His service.