Incredible. Jesus had recently been deserted by his disciples. They all ran away in the dark of night when it was apparent Jesus wasn’t going to defend himself with the sword.
He was brought before the high priest to be accused. There was a problem with the kangaroo court in that they couldn’t find witnesses who could lie well enough to actually convict Jesus.
Finally someone accused him of proclaiming that if the temple was destroyed he could rebuild it in three days. The priest grew impatient and asked, Are you the Messiah? Jesus said yes, was proclaimed guilty of blasphemy, and suffered the indignity of having people punch and spit in his face.
The case went to a higher court–Pilot, who finally washed his hands of the matter while the crowd screamed Crucify him!
Jesus was being murdered even though he was innocent of the charge. Murdered.
Two statements throughout history that are too above me, too power-filled, too completely unexpected… . The first one is the statement, Let there be light. Bam, the universe which did not exist suddenly existed. The second, Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.
The thugs overseeing the execution of the Son of God were guilty because they should have known what they were doing. They had no excuse. Miracles had been performed. The law was being fulfilled. The fact is they needed forgiveness not because they were ignorant but because they were purposefully ignorant.
Jesus is saying, Forgive them, they should have known better. It is really hard for me to understand the love that goes into a forgiving spirit when wronged by people who have chosen not to “know better,” blinded by their quest for revenge, or power, or simple greed. But it is part of life. Forgiveness is tied to relationship with God in two ways. Our life depends on God’s forgiveness. Our life depends on our willingness to forgive others.
Most times I think it would be easier for me to create the universe out of nothing than to forgive those who hurt me or my family and who should know better. What if you had a spouse killed by a drunk driver, a son racially profiled and slaughtered by cops, your reputation ruined by someone malicious, your bank account wiped out by a scheming “investor?”
Nothing is more true than the need to look at Jesus closely, as if peering into a mirror so that his image can transform. I try to imagine the spit, the punches, the beating, the thorns, the nails, the false accusations, the creepy sound of lying witnesses, the betrayal by a Judas, the desertion by his closest friends when he needed them most, the target of malice and murder.
People should know better. All of us–I’m no exception. We should know better. We should know Jesus better so that, in his image, when we are victims we to can break the cycle not returning and eye for an eye, absorbing the evil by swallowing up the darkness in a mouth that forgives.