“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34, NIV84)
These are not the words I would expect to come from a man who had just been unjustly beaten, scourged and crucified. He doesn’t even plead His case from the cross. I would at least be declaring my innocence for the world to hear. But that is not what we heard from Jesus. Instead, we heard a word of prayer directed to His Father. He asked His Father to forgive, rather than hold accountable, the sins of His accusers. But wasn’t their rejection of Jesus worthy of punishment? Weren’t their actions worthy of some kind of divine retribution? Yes! But it came in a way that none of us would expect.
The punishment and retribution due Jesus’ accusers fell upon Him. That’s right! Paul says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The innocent was dying for the wicked. Jesus took not only His accusers’ sins upon Himself, but He also took yours and mine. In this unimaginable act of grace, we see the love of God for His broken and lost creatures. He would rather die to save us than to lose us. Stop right there! Name another religion in the world that points us to such a God of grace. What philosophy provides the necessary remedy for what truly plagues humanity? Christianity alone points us to a God who loves us so much that He became the remedy.
Today, and every day, know that you are loved and forgiven by God!