“Father, forgive them…” Luke 23:34 (NIV)
How is it possible for God to forgive the worst sins, and for him to embrace the worst sinners? That question takes us to the heart of this amazing prayer…
Man’s sin reached its full horror and its most awful expression on the cross as we crucified God’s Son. If there was ever a moment in human history when God’s judgment had to fall, this was it. But at the same moment, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them.” Christ was isolating himself under the judgment of God.
Jesus knew judgment would come, so he cried out to the Father, “Don’t let it fall on them, let it fall on me, and me alone. Let me be the lightning rod for your judgment. Allow me to be the sacrifice that’s consumed, but don’t let your judgment fall on them.”
This is the heart of the gospel. Jesus stands under the judgment of God for sins that have been committed against him. Christ asks the Father to divert the punishment away from his enemies, and he absorbs it in himself. That is how forgiveness is released.
When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,” the word “them” is large enough for you to crawl inside. This prayer, and the sacrifice that provides the answer to it, is sufficient for every person who will come to him. His prayer covered the sins of those who nailed him to the cross, and it can cover every sin you have committed.
Do you believe that Jesus’ words “Father, forgive them” are big enough for you and your sins? Why or why not?