Father, Forgive Them


‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Luke 23:34

It’s near the end of Jesus’ human life, He senses it, He has hung on the cross for a little while now. It has become hard for Jesus to even get a breath. Hung from His arms, He must pull Himself up each time He wants to breathe. But even still, He’s thinking of others.

Does Jesus mean, to forgive only those soldiers who carried out the crucifixion? Is He asking God to forgive only those who were present that day?

Possibly, I personally believe He’s speaking about every single sin that mankind as a whole has committed against God, since creation. He’s paying the price for the sins of the world and prays for God to forgive us all because none of us knew what we were doing until we became Christians, we were all enemies of God without realising it, Romans 5:6-10.

The people at the time of Jesus, much like us today didn’t understand the extent of their evil hearts nor recognise Him as the true Messiah, 1 Corinthians 2:8.

Yes, they committed many sins that day for which they will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement, but they will not consciously and intentionally crucify the Messiah. And just like we didn’t realise how our sin caused Him to go to the cross, we didn’t know that in a sense we crucified the Saviour of the world.

What we see here with these words, is the great intercessor at work, Isaiah 53:12 / 1 John 2:1-2.

Lesson for today

Even on the cross hours before His death, we see Jesus thinking of others and despite the evil, all of mankind had done through the ages, He still asks the Father to forgive them. The cross should always be our example when it comes to forgiving others. He taught us to pray in His prayer, Luke 11:4.

And if we have an example anywhere in Scripture of someone following Jesus’ example in terrible circumstances it’s Stephen. Here he is in front of the religious leaders, who were getting angrier with him by the moment because he spoke the truth and they didn’t like it. They picked up stones to stone him to death and just before Steepen died, he said, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep.’ Acts 7:60

The cross is our example for forgiveness, and Paul reminds us of this when he wrote, ‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ Colossians 3:13