There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:32-34)
None of the Gospels give the gory details of the soldiers nailing Jesus to the cross. If it weren’t for doubting Thomas placing his fingers in Jesus’ wounds, we wouldn’t know that the nails used were larger than a man’s finger. Jesus hung on the cross as He prayed to God to forgive His transgressors.
Who is Jesus asking forgiveness for? Judas who betrayed Him, the Roman soldiers and guards who bullied, beat Him, and nailed Him to the cross; the Jewish leaders and guards who lied about Him and wouldn’t settle for any punishment other than crucifixion; Pontius Pilate who sentenced Him to death even though He was innocent, Herod who bullied Him, and you and I, who sin, because Jesus died on the cross to take our sins with Him. He died for every sinner, both believers and unbelievers.
What does this Scripture say about sin? The person who has sinned against you or humanity doesn’t realize what they’re doing is wrong because their culture says it’s okay, they feel you have privilege, their parents/guardians taught or showed them their behavior is okay, they had a flare of anger, they felt unloved, or the enemy led them down the wrong path. Think about your own sin and why you did it. Knowing that the sinner doesn’t know what they’re doing makes it easier to forgive.
What does this Scripture say about forgiveness? We should follow the example of Jesus and forgive, and we should forgive right away. Forgiveness doesn’t release the person who wronged you. Jesus doesn’t doubt that anyone who took part in His death was wrong. Nor does it release the sinner from repentance. Jesus was very clear a sinner needs to repent to obtain forgiveness. When we forgive another, we’re telling God that we agree with His decision to forgive our transgressor when they realize their mistake and repent to God. God spends our lifetime teaching us about mistakes we make until we ask forgiveness.
My ex-husband never realized he was mentally abusing me. Perhaps it was a learned behavior from his father. But God wants him to know it’s not okay. His second marriage ended in divorce also. I hope he learned to trust God and realized the lesson God tried to teach him because otherwise my ex won’t be happy during his lifetime. On the other hand, I learned the mistakes I made from my first marriage, and I’ve had a wonderful second marriage and the blessing of three wonderful children.
Forgiveness takes the burden off us and places it on God, whom we trust, to take care of our burdens. It releases us from the negative feelings we have after someone wrongs us. Again, I thank God for the lessons taught through His Scripture because, today, I’m able to forgive one who wronged my family in a huge way. I’ve carried negative feelings for almost two weeks. Today, I can forgive him and begin to heal because I trust God to take care of my burdens.
We are at the cross. We must forgive those who had anything to do with our bad habits or bad traits we are giving up. There’s a reason we crave things other than God or why we have negative emotions. We won’t be successful until we can forgive.
Father, thank you for giving me Scripture and the ability to learn from it. I forgive ________. I trust you with the burden of teaching him/her not to hurt others. Thank you for healing my wounds. You are my place of refuge. Father, help me see my wrongdoings and learn from them so I can ask forgiveness. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.