The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
When Jesus said on the cross, “They do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), he was teaching us a lot about ourselves. We have an uncanny ability to remain blind to our sin and how deeply it cuts God’s fatherly heart.
But when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,” he was also teaching us about God. “Father, forgive. …” These words go well together because the Bible affirms that, above all else, God is a God of mercy! “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” As our heavenly Father, it is in God’s very character to forgive.
Again and again, when we come back from the strange ways of our ignorance and foolishness, we find God waiting for us with a welcoming heart. He is ready—even eager!—to forgive us when we return home.
God’s heart is not quick to condemn but, rather, to forgive. “God did not send his Son … to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
In Jesus’ plea from the cross, then, we have both the brutal truth about ourselves and the glorious truth about God: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Thanks be to God that still today Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them,” on our behalf (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
Mighty God, thank you that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can know forgiveness and new life in you! We are grateful that you are compassionate, merciful, and full of love. Amen.
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