Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do.
It was Christ Who uttered these words and many people come to mind:- The cruel Roman soldiers; Pilate; Caiaphas; Judas; the Sanhedrin – the angry mob that screamed “Crucify” – Israel’s leaders in their jealousy? But the list isn’t exhausted in those names in the latter chapters of the gospel. You were included in Christ’s gracious, “THEM” You were in that list of unworthy sinners, and so was I.
He was praying His gracious words of tender forgiveness over you, and He was praying His precious words of loving pardon over me too. ‘Oh no,’ you may argue ‘I am not that bad, I’m different, I couldn’t do that!‘ But you as good as held the nails that pierced His hands, and so did I. We are as bad as the mockers, those that spat and the angry mob. The air as good a rang with your piercing scream of ‘Crucify” – as of mine. I helped crucify the Lord Jesus and so did you.
The words ‘Father Forgive‘ – were pleaded for you and for me. The words ‘Father Forgive‘ – grace my brow as they do yours. Are we who have been so beautifully, and so freely forgiven by the Lord – are we unwilling to forgive the ones that have wounded and hurt us so much?
Many people complain that they can’t forgive or they will not forgive, Yet the sin of unforgiveness so often entraps our souls with dark bitterness. Unforgiveness is one of the main blockages to the presence of God; Unforgiveness can turn the heart of flesh into an icy heart of cold stone.
Corrie ten Boom who watched her beloved sister die in a Nazi death-camp said: "Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment. Forgiveness is the thing that removes the handcuffs of hate. Forgiveness breaks that power that chains bitterness. Forgiveness unfastens the shackles of selfishness.” Paul reminds us that: “God forgave us ALL our sins” Col.2:13 – only one of which is sufficient to secure the eternal wages of death and hell.
Jesus is the only one Who could proclaim God’s full forgiveness. He proclaimed full and free pardon instead of pronouncing the required penalty, and in the brief prayer He taught His disciples, Jesus included forgiveness. In that exemplary prayer, He included a profound statement:- Forgive – Forgive as you have been forgiven. Matt.6:12
Forgiveness is a beautiful heavenly quality that touches the heart of God, When you fully recognise how the Father has forgiven you of your sins – it becomes not only easier to forgive – but a vital necessity.
Yes, we are certainly supposed to love and forgive those that sin against us, yet forgiveness does not come easily to any one of us. It is the Holy Spirit Who is the One, Who can fill our hearts with God’s love and forgiveness. He is the One, that can enable us to forgive those that wound and hurt and betray us –
But before waiting for things to happen to enable forgiveness to be applied. we should seek to be proactive in asking that His love fill us to overflowing. Pursuit of His Love should be a conscious part of our prayer-time. We should seek to be filled with His love that surpasses understanding. Jesus loves us so much that He is at the Father’s side... interceding for us.
The famous words, “I can forgive but I can NEVER forget,” is a couched way of saying I cannot forgive – and I will not forgive. This is a very dangerous and unwise attitude of heart – for it is a big step towards the “hardening of the heart” that is seen in Pharaoh. You note that during the first few plagues Pharaoh hardened his own heart, but in the end, it was the LORD that hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Don’t allow unforgiveness to harden your heart to this extent, but rather seek the Lord to soften your heart, and if necessary to break your heart.
Equally harmful to the soul is the pretence that we have forgiven another, when in fact we have only buried the pain in the depths of our being.. allowing it to resurface periodically to our own harm and often to the hurt of others – hiding behind a mask of normality while unforgiveness burns in our soul.
Buried unforgiveness is at the root of most relational difficulties, but forgiveness melts the hardening casement around a hardened heart. When you pray, say "Father forgive – as we forgive others."
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