The prayer of forgiveness

ATD 97The Word

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34


Mocking, betrayal, false accusations, humiliation, false trial, cruel beatings, and now nailed to two coarse wooden beams in the shape of a cross. Most of us from this side of the story would condone and see complete justification had the request of Jesus been for His tormentors to be destroyed for their actions. Yet, in this unbearable moment Jesus prays the unthinkable by human standards, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

This word forgiveness means to cancel a debt, to be freed of an obligation, or to receive pardon. Who are the subjects of this prayer of Christ, the sinless One? The Roman soldiers hammering nails through His flesh into the wood? The temple guards who arrested Him in the garden? Was it Judas the betrayer, Herod, Pilate, or the false witnesses of the unjust mock trial that led to His crucifixion? Perhaps it is directed toward His disciples who were trying to conceal their association with Him or the crowd that yelled, “Crucify Him!” The answer I think is all of these, and us as well.

Cognizant of sin or not, Christ made the way for all to be forgiven and justified with God through His selfless, redemptive, sacrificial act.


Most gracious and merciful heavenly Father, may Your name be forever praised and honored for Your immeasurable love and abundant grace. I am unworthy, but You extend mercy. Thank You for making a way to forgive me of my sin. Amen.


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