"Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do."
All Scripture Verses are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.
Copyright © June 1, 2019 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
Easter Sunday was on April 21 in the year 2019.
The Sunday morning church service was packed with people and there were only a few empty places where a person could sit in random spots inside the church.
The Easter message weighed heavily on my heart that Sunday morning and it prompted me to began writing this short article about one of the statements that Jesus Christ made while He was dying on the cross. It has taken me six weeks to compose my thoughts and to gradually finish writing the following article.
The Easter Message
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals -- one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."
When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"
"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Where would you and I be today if our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ had not prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
As we gradually age we may reach a time in our lives when we can sincerely and honestly pray for the forgiveness of everyone who has ever done anything bad to us. If and when this happens then we will have reached a new level of Christian maturity and we will no longer be "babes" in Christ. In simple terms, we will have significantly matured in our Christian faith when we can pray something similar to the following:
"Father God Almighty, in the precious name of Jesus Christ Your Son, my Savior, my Messiah, my King, and my God, I humbly request that you forgive me for being upset with "specific person." And I ask that You would please help that person to forgive me for any wrong that I may have done to them. And I ask that you completely and totally forgive "specific person" for everything they may have done against me and I beg You to please help that person, and everyone in their entire extended family, to understand and believe the gospel message, and please help each and every one of them to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior that they all might enjoy eternal life with You in glory forever. Amen."
Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com