“Father, Forgive Them”
The first sentence from the cross is a prayer, and it is at the cross that Jesus teaches us to pray. He doesn’t begin his words from the cross addressing the disciples, the religious leaders, the soldiers, the crowd or the crucified criminals beside him. Jesus does not look down to his tormenters but up to God. The closeness captured in the model prayer that we call the Lord’s Prayer is still present even in his agony. Jesus addresses his prayer intimately and personally to his “Father.” Can our prayer life be that way? Can we also pray with such childlike trust, especially when we are in pain?
Even in his suffering, Jesus’ prayer is not for himself. It is for “them.”
“Forgive them,” Jesus pleads. Them – the soldiers who have tortured him, the leaders who have falsely
accused him, the gawkers in the crowd looking on, the disciples who have abandoned him. Reflect today on the ways “them” also refers to you and me. We, too, are in need of God’s forgiveness. So often, we don’t have time for God. We don’t pray as we ought. We don’t love as we could. We set down the demands of discipleship when it becomes inconvenient, hard or costly. When we do, we betray God’s purpose for us and rebel against what we are called to be. Forgive them, God. But also forgive us!
It is a gift that God forgives us and draws us into God’s life and will and holds us there. Today, give thanks that Jesus is never closer to his father than in forgiveness.
I am just beginning to realize how much you love me. Your son, Jesus, was humble and obedient. He
fulfilled your will for him by becoming human and suffering with us. I ask you for the desire to become more humble so that my own life might also bear witness to you. I want to use the small sufferings I have in this world to give you glory.
Please, Lord, guide my mind by your wisdom. Strengthen my life by the example of Jesus. Help me to stay with Jesus in this week as he demonstrates again his total love for me. He died so that I would no longer be separated from you. Help me to feel how close you are and to live in union with you. Amen.
— Christopher Ingram