“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34.
He had stepped down from His royal throne, into a world that He had created, and that was His own possession. There He had subjected His divine nature to the frailty of human flesh. He had poured Himself out for others: loving, giving, healing, restoring, embracing, comforting, delivering, feeding, nourishing, satisfying, raising to new life.
A week after the crowds shouted “Hosanna!” they screamed, “Crucify Him!”
He was betrayed, arrested, mocked, scorned, abandoned, denied, rejected, tortured and set to die the most excruciating, disgraceful death known to humanity.
A human assessment might indicate that He had wasted His time and energy in pouring Himself out for the sake of others. A human assessment might deem all the love He had given was now thrown back in His face and regarded as of no account. A human assessment might conclude that while He had served a purpose for a while, He was now to be cast aside like a tool that was no longer of any use.
Yet in the midst of His own extreme suffering and rejection, Jesus never lost sight of His greater purpose, His kingdom perspective. Man’s assessment was not the final word; God’s purposes would be served no matter what anyone said.
Jesus looked down on His tormentors in the moment of His greatest torment, and prayed: “… forgive them…”
On more than one occasion before Jesus went to the cross, He urged that each of us who want to come after Him, will have to take up our own cross also, and follow Him. What does this mean?
It means pouring ourselves out in His name, for the sake of His kingdom and the lives of others. It means loving, giving, healing, restoring, embracing, comforting, delivering, feeding, nourishing, satisfying, offering new life to others. It means a self-sacrifice of time and energy and self-interest and personal comfort…
And having done all that… it is just possible that we too, might be rejected, scorned, betrayed, abandoned, tormented, and metaphorically crucified by the very ones to whom we have poured out His love.
When that happens, voices may whisper that we have wasted our time and energy, that we have failed, that all we have done and given is deemed useless and meaningless, that like a tool that no longer serves any purpose, we are now cast aside.
Ah, but the cross… the cross we have taken up to follow Him; the cross upon which our arms, too remain outstretched in love, even during and in spite of great pain. Because man’s assessment is still not the final word, and God’s purposes will yet be fulfilled through our obedience, no matter what anyone says.
Because of Jesus, and because we are His and not our own, we too, can look with compassion on those who treat us so, and say, “Father, in the name of Jesus who gave His life for such as these, forgive them, for in their state of brokenness and blindness, they know not what they do…”
And the Redeemer will not only accomplish all that is on His heart, and fulfill His purposes in such lives, but He will also redeem the pain of the cross we have carried.
By God’s assessment, the way of the cross is the way of triumph!