There are those moments – few, but excruciatingly painful. Few, because we don’t let hundreds of people into our inner circle – thank God. Excruciating because the people we do let into our inner circle see our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, victories, and strengths, so trust builds up as we walk together. Trust does not guarantee the results of hope, though. We hope our closest people are totally trustworthy, but people (including each of us) fail, taking others with them as they fail.
Our hopes are sometimes dreams – illusions. Jesus didn’t have those illusions about the people He loved. He knows us for the sum total of who we are. He knew everyone around him for the sum total of who they were. And, He knew Himself completely, so didn’t let people sway Him.
Jn 2:23-25 During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many…noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them. (The Message)
Fully aware that Judas was handing Him over to abject torture and death, Jesus still allowed Judas to kiss him! (Matt 26:49) I would have pushed Judas away! Judas betrayed Christ and sent Him to the cross. Peter denied his friend, Jesus, to keep himself from a cross. All the 12 except Saint John ran from the crucifixion to preserve their own lives, and left Jesus hanging without their protection, or company.
Not enough – to be betrayed, denied, and ditched by His friends. Judas led an army of locals with him, wielding swords and clubs. Were any of them people Jesus had healed??? The local leadership tried Jesus in front of everyone, at night, and people lined up to lie about Him. The same people who had been following Him around town. The whole community got in on the action. To top it off, Pilate let a murderer go free and let Jesus’ own people send Him to the cross. Knowing him innocent of the charges, Pilate, a leader, preserved himself, and peace in the community, by killing Jesus.
Our Lord responded in the moment. He didn’t wait to send greetings from heaven. Jesus prayed for all his abusers as they continued to sneer at Him and mock Him, while raised in the air, arms stretched and aching, gasping for breath, bleeding profusely, with pain so intense His body was shaking, and shock was stealing his life away.
Lk 23:33-37 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. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” NKJV
The agony of the cross doesn’t really strike a person as the right time or place from which to forgive. It certainly did not take the physical agony away from Jesus to have forgiven. But, He did forgive. He continued on to death, in agony, AND in a state of forgiveness – freedom of Spirit and mind. I said Jesus knew everyone for the sum total of who they were. We must remember! They had demanded His death. They stood around sneering, and mocking. Mocking! Thinking about it brings me such a numb, horrified feeling. Who would think these cold blooded, or calculating, or cowardly people should be forgiven, let alone seen as ignorant – as lacking understanding or awareness of the pain they cause…by their victim!!!
Lk 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” NKJV
Know – eido (#1492) a primary verb. To see (literally or figuratively), by implication, to know – be aware, behold, consider, perceive by any of the senses, discern, notice, discover, to understand, wish, or be sure.
When we are shattered; when our closest people fail, betray, cause excruciating pain…even on purpose…they really don’t understand the depth of what they are doing. They don’t know the full cost. They can’t feel the intensity of our pain. Jesus does. He knew it when we were doing it to Him first. Jesus forgave in the midst of the agony, and could freely say “it is done.”
Dear God – help us. Help us to do the same.
July 14, 2021