When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
In the agony of the cross the first word from the mouth of our Lord was “Father”. Certainly our difficulties cannot compare with the torture of the cross but we too need to learn, in our pain, to make “Father” the first word on our lips, the first one we turn to. He is there with us, just as He was with Jesus on the cross, even when things appear out of control and hopeless.
Jesus’ second word is another lesson for us – “forgive”. He did not wait until things were better but, in the midst of the rejection, humiliation, unjust treatment and pain, He forgave. He didn’t just teach us to forgive, he modeled it in the most gruesome of circumstances. He showed us to forgive when they don’t deserve it, even when they are not sorry and even if they do not ask for it.
The cross demonstrates forgiveness is not easy. It was not easy for Jesus and that is why He said the road is narrow and few find it – it is painfully hard. Forgiveness is not fair. In the cross, injustice and grace collide head on and grace triumphs. Rejoice in that. Fairness and justice sends you and me to hell. “Grace takes the blame, covers the shame and removes the stain”.*
* Brian Zahnd – Unconditional?
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”