And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:26-34)
To fully grasp the significance of Jesus’ words in verse 34, we need to fully understand what had happened to him leading up to that moment. It started when he was betrayed by one of his closest friends and arrested. He then spent a sleepless night being shuttled back and forth between Jewish leaders, Pontius Pilate, and King Herod, while they lobbied accusations of blasphemy and treason at him before finally hearing the same voices that lauded his arrival less than a week earlier turn on him and shout, “Crucify him!” and call for the release of a convicted insurrectionist instead. He was brutally scourged with whips designed to tear away flesh and muscle from the bone, while his torturers mocked his very identity as King. He then had to carry his own cross through the city, only the sleepless night followed by the scourging left him too weak to do so, and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to do it for him. Upon arriving at Calvary, nails were driven through his wrists and feet, two of the most sensitive nerve centers in the body, a crown of thorns was pushed down on his head as yet another symbol of contempt and mockery, and he was hung naked, probably not much higher than eye-level so that people could insult him to his face and spit at him. And all the while, his mother was watching this being done to her son.
It was at this moment that Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Whoa. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even fathom those words passing my lips at that moment. Those words should shock you to your core and make you pause. No one is capable of forgiving something like that, right? Continue reading How to Forgive Like Jesus