FORGIVENESS AND HOPE
Read: Luke 23:34-47
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” (NIV Luke 23:34-47)
Study: Jesus’ friends and his nation betrayed him, a Roman procurator who could see his innocence approved his crucifixion (John 19:4-6), and he felt a deep sense of separation from God (Matthew 27:46). Yet on the cross, Jesus did what might seem impossible—he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” Think of a time when someone wronged you in a major way. Remember how the situation came to be, what feelings it triggered in you, and what you did about them. Have you been able to forgive and let go of the hurt, or has this wrong continued to haunt you? What would it take for you to set yourself free from the past by forgiving? What kind of help, divine or human, might you need for that process?
Pray: Compassionate God, you suffered so much, yet prayed, “Father, forgive them…” As you forge a new identity in me, may I see myself and others through your eyes, and forgive as you forgave. Amen.