Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. – Lk. 23:34 NIV
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Jesus had been handed over to his accusers by Pilate, symbolically washing his hands off in the process (Matt. 27:24), when all efforts to make them see his innocence had failed – Lk. 23:6-25. They had falsely accused him of;
- Acts of subversion against the government of the Romans – Lk. 23:2a.
- Opposing payment of taxes to Caesar – Lk. 23:2b.
- Claiming to be a Messiah, a king of some sort – Lk. 23:2c.
- And that he was using his teachings to stir up dissension all over Judea starting from Galilee to Jerusalem – Lk. 23:5
He had the responsibility to carry the cross on which he was to be crucified all the way to the place of the skull called Golgotha or better still Calvary and this he did until he was left with no strength to continue so Simon of Cyrene was drafted to help him carry it through the rest of the journey – Lk. 23:26. He eventually arrived at the place of the skull where he was crucified in the middle of two condemned criminals, one to the right and the other to his left – Lk. 23:32. It was while on the cross, before he gave up the ghost, that Jesus Christ made the first of his few remarks which has become relevant to the Christian and is the foundation scripture for today’s devotional. He had pleaded with the Lord to forgive the people for their ignorance. He was sure they did not know what they were doing. Although he was not specific about the people in reference, the general assumption is that he was referring to
- The people that framed him up to be crucified. This is because just as he told them, they would not have succeeded in arresting him if he had not voluntarily laid down his life. He knew the reason for his coming into the world in the first place, just as he was aware that the time for him to fulfil destiny had come. For them, it could be the case of them being very successful in their evil plan but for him, they, including Judas Iscariot were helping him to fulfil destiny Lk. 22:1-6; 21-22; 47-53; Jn. 10:18. They had to be forgiven for their negative acts which unknown to them was a help to fulfilling destiny. Such was the case with Joseph whose brothers took an action based on their evil intentions but which turned out to be a help into destiny – Gen. 50:15-21.
- The judges that decided to approve that he be crucified even when they were convinced that he was not guilty. There is nothing as evil as knowing the truth and still acting on lies. No reason should be sufficient to exonerate such individual especially when the Almighty God had made it clear that no one should join people to do evil (Exo. 23:2) and the scriptures made it clear that it is a sin for anyone to know good and not implement it (Jms. 4:17) but again Jesus had to pray for them to be forgiven, after all if Pilate and Herod did not agree to subvert justice, how could he have been able to fulfil destiny. They also had to be forgiven.
- The elders and the people who took turns to mock him and the soldiers who not only mocked him but also took up the task of implementing the kangaroo judgement in a very humiliating manner – Lk. 23:35-38. Killing him will not be sufficient, he had to be humiliated for the essence of the sacrifice to be achieved. He was supposed to bear all our infirmities, shame and disgrace. He was supposed to be beaten so that his stripes will heal us – Isa. 53:5. Absence of all those treatments by the soldiers would have rendered the sacrifice ineffective and a total waste. How will the sins be wiped out if they did not with their spear, pierce him so that water and blood can flow out from his side? – Jn. 19:33-34 But they unknowingly helped the entire humanity to reap maximum reward from this supreme sacrifice that Jesus made and also made the sacrifice of Jesus worth all the effort. They also had to be forgiven.
Christians today will do themselves a favour if they can only regard the supposed negative actions of the so called enemies as blessings in disguise. There are so many successes that require the activities of that individual tagged, “the enemy” to be achieved and only an ingrate will appreciate only the final person that facilitated the success leaving out all the other contributors, whether positive or negative.
Success is the product of a series of activities, with several people playing several roles at different stages some of which may be classified as negative. The tendency is for man to want to isolate only those actions that are classified positive as deserving of appreciation leaving out the so called negative acts but that will be entirely wrong. If some of those activities classified as negatives did not occur, the likelihood of those positives that eventually led to the success being celebrated will be very slim if not completely impossible. It was simply not going to be possible for Christ to wear the crown of glory and get the glorious name that he got from his father if all these events did not happen to him – Phil. 2:8-11. Likewise, you may never be able to achieve that desired success if you keep praying against the contribution of all those people you are classifying as enemies. You need them to help you in your journey to destiny.
The true Christian must realise that nothing happens to him/her without the knowledge and approval of the Almighty God and so learn to trust Him for allowing such events to happen. It may be painful at the moment of its occurrence but it should all be counted for joy as it will end positively – Jms. 1:2-16. Do not let your ignorance turn you into an ingrate. Trust the Almighty God to always have your back – Prov. 3:5-6. That is the only way that you too will be able to stop seeing enemies but only destiny helpers. May God help you to see His movement in all the events around you in Jesus name. Amen.