Some of Jesus’ dying words have befuddled me for a long time.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” –Lk 23:34
Umm, Lord? They did know.
They knew Jesus didn’t deserve death- even the thief on the cross and Pilate knew that. All the righteousness they might have used as an excuse for ignorance is too thin to lean on. They had to stir up false witnesses and crowds to even make a charge.
They knew they were sending a man to horrible, torturous death. Mocking him all the way. That’s kind of a hard sin to commit and not know you’re doing it.
But something I’ve been learning is that many of the people present when Jesus’ spoke those words from the cross did not know the full scope of what they were doing. The Jewish people as a whole didn’t realize it was the Messiah being killed- and many who later learned this repented. (Acts 2)
Though they knew what they were doing, and are responsible for it, many did so without understanding.
All of us who are believers once behaved in this way. When we were unbelievers, we often sinned on purpose. But we were without understanding about what that means before God. We were blinded.
So, we were His enemies. Just as those mocking Christ on the cross were then. But we didn’t see the scope and we didn’t grasp why it mattered.
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” -Matthew 13:13
It was for our forgiveness (we were His enemies also) that He died on the cross. He didn’t demand that we understand. He didn’t wait until all the Jews hearts had opened to Him. He didn’t open the Scriptures to the disciples’ understanding before the crucifixion so that they could track the progress as a formula.
He died so that we could be forgiven for the sins we know and the sins we don’t understand. He died for capital “S” sin to be defeated. That’s all-inclusive.
We, as those Jesus asked God to forgive back then, have only to receive by grace this understanding: It is finished.
Though once blind, now we see.
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