Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
There is probably no more difficult phrase in the Bible to comprehend then when hanging on the cross, as He is nearing His final breath, and while the crowds, the soldiers and the other two that He is being crucified with are all hurling insults at him, Jesus says ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ (St. Luke 23:34)
That phrase is so contrary to our human nature and what our culture says; if someone is attacking you, you fight back. If someone is insulting you, you insult them back. If someone is accusing you of something, you deny. To just stand there and absorb the blows, and not say anything; and then to actually forgive the attacker, does not come naturally to us. Many would go so far as to say that it is a sign of weakness, not strength.
But these words spoken by Jesus on the cross go much deeper than just to the people who are currently hurling insults at Him, and even beyond the Roman soldiers who are obediently carrying out the orders to oversee the crucifixions, and even beyond the other two criminals who are probably happy that they are being ignored in all of this.
The Greek text indicates that Jesus speaks these words not just to those gathered here now at Golgotha; but to all those who have sinned and acted against Him. He speaks these words to the disciples, who ran away in the garden; and to the Jewish council who defied God in pushing to have Jesus put to death. He speaks these words to Herod for his questioning and demanding of signs from Him, and to Pilate for his complete abandonment of any truth. He even speaks these words to the mob that demanded Barabbas instead, and to the women who wept as He carried His cross to Golgotha.
And yes, that phrase is even spoken to you.
You to bear the guilt by your own words and actions in betraying Jesus, in questioning Him, abandoning His truths, despising Him, defying Him, even feeling sorry for Him at times you should not. You are not innocent in all of this, you to need to hear the words of forgiveness spoken by Jesus.
That forgiveness does not start here though, it began when Jesus left the right hand of the throne of God and came to earth to be born in human flesh. Now at the cross, it finds its fulfillment with Jesus suffering and dying in your place; and ultimately rising from the tomb as the victor over sin, death and the devil.
This forgiveness comes to you now in the waters of Holy Baptism and in the body and blood of the Lord’s Supper.
This Lent, we will look at the phrase ‘Father, forgive them’ and how it applies to those who participated in the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and how it now applies to you today.
This year, we will have two opportunities for worship. Each Wednesday, starting with Ash Wednesday on February 13th, there will be worship at 10AM at First Lutheran, Plainville; and then at 7PM worship will be at Peace Lutheran, Natoma. The services will be the same; but we do hope that the option of a morning and an evening service will be helpful to members of both congregations.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt