Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
A couple months ago, our niece shared about her five-year-old son. He attends parochial school. One day after school, he told his Mom that he wished one girl in his class would stop leading him into temptation.
Has temptation been your friend? Have you knowingly done hurtful things to other people? Or has temptation lured you away from doing something you know you could and should do and instead do something else?
As Jesus hung on the cross dying, he looked down and saw all kinds of people gathered at the foot of the cross. He saw the religious leaders who worked diligently to get him crucified because they felt threatened by him. There were the Roman soldiers conducting their jobs, probably numb to the process. I imagine a few merchants Jesus had thrown out of the Temple earlier in the week that changed money within his Father’s house. They were still mad at him for causing them to lose money during a significantly profitable week. Then he saw his Mom, her closest friends, his disciple John. People he loved and cared for. People he knew didn’t understand what was happening. People led into temptation because of their job, beliefs or views. People who were loved him and couldn’t imagine life without him.
During crucifixion, it is nearly impossible for a person to speak. As fluid builds up around the heart and lungs, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the person to breathe. We know of at least seven times Jesus hoisted himself up just enough to get air into his lungs to speak. For our benefit, he spoke loud enough for those on the ground to hear him. Amazingly, his first words are a prayer: “Father, forgive them.”
In this prayer, he prays for those he can see who have been tempted and given in. He’s praying for all those people who have already lived and committed sin. Interestingly, he also prays for us, for all of humanity and the temptations we will succumb to. With a few words in a prayer, he covers the temptations of all humanity.
What to know how much Jesus loves you? Substitute your name for the “them” in his prayer. Listen. “Father, forgive Dianne, for she knows not what she does.” This is amazing love. It’s amazing grace. Will you be changed this Lent by the One who prayed for you?
Lord God, thank you for praying for me while hanging on the cross. Thank you for paying for my sins even before I enacted them. When we remember the temptations we have allowed into our lives, let us see the payment of those temptations. Allow the Holy Spirit to change our hearts this Lent. Amen.
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