In observance of Holy Week, I have decided to use this space to offer a devotional series that I have prepared and which I have entitled:
THE CLIMB TO CALVARY
Meditations on The Seven Last Words of Christ
MONDAY: The First Words
“Then said Jesus, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
In some ways, at least from a worldly perspective, these first recorded words spoken by Jesus on the cross are the most startling of all seven of His final statements captured in the Gospels. Here was Christ, the son of God and man, being taunted, ridiculed and brutally killed by the power brokers of the day.
And yet how did He respond to it all?
Not with bitterness or anger, but with grace and forgiveness.
Simply put, He forgave His executioners!
Some of you might remember Amy Biehl. Back in 1993 she was attending Stanford University but studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She was a strong anti-apartheid activist. On August 25th of that year she was stoned and stabbed to death, a victim of random racial violence. She was white; her killers were black.
Her parents attended her killers’ murder trial and publicly forgave the men.
Few of us will ever be faced with a situation as tragic as the Biehls’, the principle of forgiveness still applies to all of us. Are you often stung by the sting of personal or unfair attacks? Have you been taken advantage of or mistreated? Been a victim of gossip and rumor? Have you ever been mocked or criticized for your faith or for believing in the literal word of God?
Although it might seem significant at the time, most of what we take offense to is petty. Instead of looking outward, we’re looking inward. Nevertheless, whatever the offense, take it to the Lord in prayer. If He could forgive His killers, can you not forgive a person who embarrassed or falsely accused you?
Perhaps it is time today to forgive someone and let go of a long-held grudge.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider and internalize these powerful first words that Jesus spoke from the cross on Calvary.