What thoughts flash through one’s mind as life nears its end? If we knew our time was running out, what words would we choose to say?
Jesus faced this exact situation as He hung on the cross. To those of us who are living in the aftermath of history, we see that crucifixion is beneficial. The plan of salvation from the day sin was activated in the Garden of Eden was for Jesus to die in our place. And so it happened.
For those who were at Golgotha that morbid Friday, it was an unexpected scene. To the believers, Jesus was innocent. The centurions, military officials, and others, did not know what to think. Jesus’ behavior didn’t betray any shred of guilt. His attitude, and lack of words, lack of violence, and defenseless stature seemed bizarre, eerie really.
The guiltless, perfect life of Jesus was exchanged for the release of a vile prisoner. Positioned between two known criminals, Jesus maintained His composure as He hung on the cross.
Jesus didn’t cuss out the folks as they watched. He didn’t beg His mother to hire the best lawyers, demanding a stay of execution. Jesus didn’t use His divinity to curse or strike down the soldiers as they cast lots over his blood-stained, dirty garments.
Instead, the words Jesus spoke showed the true feelings of His heart.
‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.’ (Luke 23:34, NLT)
Forgiveness is not the first thought in the midst of a painful experience. After a time of healing, perhaps with intense therapy to restore some tatters of one’s soul, then we might start to tread the eggshells around the topic of forgiveness.
Yet, it was one of the first, one of the few things Jesus said on the cross.
In His pain, in agony, as life slowly slipped away, Jesus released the guilty parties. He didn’t harbor any hard feelings, publically declaring they were forgiven by Him.
We don’t have to wait until we’re nearing the end of our lives to forgive. We can forgive now, in the present. The ability to forgive comes in recognizing the ignorance in others and our willingness not to hold that against them.
Though Jesus died on a cross that day, He died free.
There is freedom in forgiveness.
As the Easter season approaches, we’re exploring the seven last sayings of Jesus. This series is designed to help us reflect on our choices and our commitment to living as followers of Christ. Are you able to say these statements with sincerity?
Henderson Highway Church