Today’s reading: Luke 21, 22, 23, Proverbs 26
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
This is a very compelling portion of Scripture on the power of forgiveness. Jesus was tried, condemned, and crucified for something He did not do. He was completely innocent. Have you ever been accused of doing something you did not do? I have. It is a helpless feeling. It also leads to a number of other emotions, including anger and consideration of various actions of retaliation.
Several years ago we experienced an involuntary church plant (otherwise known as a church split). People who we trusted and had been close to accused us of a number of things that were just not true. Some of these “friends” even sent out letters of false accusation to our entire church congregation. Because these were leaders in our church that others trusted many people believed their lies without checking out the facts or talking with Janice and me at all.
One aside I need to share before continuing this story: We never receive the whole truth just talking with one party involved in some conflict. It is foolish to make judgments without hearing both or all sides with an objective mind and heart and a goal to discover the truth. Now back to the story.
We had been wounded in the house of our friends. It was very tempting to lash out and attack back. The Lord clearly instructed me not to defend myself or attack my accusers. I could respond to anyone’s questions with the truth. But I was not to chase after those who left without talking to us in an effort to get them to see our side and come back.
The Lord gave me a strong word from Heb. 12:26-27 – “…Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven. Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” He revealed to me from this passage that things and people were being shaken. He said He was removing those from our church family who could be shaken so that those who could not be shaken would remain. This revelation had a strong stabilizing affect on me. Thank God for the Word!
The next thing the Lord led me to do was to forgive everyone who lied about us or who left without seeking the truth or talking with us. While He was on the cross being crucified He asked the Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. What do you mean, Jesus? They knew what they were doing. They were crucifying You and loving it! Yet they were deceived. They did not understand the full implications of their actions.
Jesus forgave all those involved in His accusation, betrayal, judgment, and death while they were still unrepentant. That is how we are to forgive. Release everyone from the penalty of their sin against us before they ever acknowledge and repent of their wrong – or even if they never do!
I chose to forgive them all – naming them by name – because after all they hadn’t hung me on a cross yet as a completely innocent man. What they did to me did not even come close to what they did to Jesus and He still forgave.
Forgive them – all of them – for they know not what they do.