Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” These words are spoken by a man who was broken by the empire, a man who is dying as the sky grows dark; it is this man who was supposed to be the light of the world, and now he is dying alone, betrayed by a friend and abandoned by those he loved… “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
He speaks these words from a place of fear, a place of humiliation, a place he does not deserve… Wasn’t the crowd just cheering for him and calling him Messiah? Didn’t he just entere the holy city, riding on a colt, palm branches waving in the air, with shouts of Hosannah, Blessed be the King… it was strange to be called “King ” by them, don’t you think? For he is truly King… King of all that is, and yet he does not enter Jerusalem, the holy city of peace, as a King might enter with weapons and an army; and they are disappointed in this “messiah” and now their cries of praise have turned into cries for blood…”Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
He was breaking holy bread, for holy people, “This is my body, which is given for you… do this in remembrance of me… this cup, poured out for you, is the new covenant in my blood… bread and wine have become body and blood, and now like bread he is broken, like wine he is poured out… given to all in order that the separation between God and humanity might be healed; that we might know that God is love… bread and wine, body and blood given that you and I might remember who he is and who we are… we are broken so that as he is broken, we too might be taken, blessed, broken and given, just as he is… and in all of this he shall go where we do not want to go… he is given so that we might live…. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
His words from his holy throne of shame reach back to us, even now…. Do we remember, do we see? Do we point to others and say, “he is the betrayer” when it is our own hearts that continue to look away as he is lynched by a mob, burned in an oven, executed in a chamber, begging on our streets… do we dare to see him in the faces of those whom we hate… in the tears of children who seek safety only to be torn from their families… do we recognize him in the desperation of the lost and the lonely, in the face of the transgender teen who takes his life, do we see Jesus in the woman who is abused and told that she must stay because thats what “christian marriage”means? Do we remember that his wounds are still visible whenever we hate, when we fear, when we worship all manner of things and put them in the place where only he should be… do we turn away from his gaze when our hearts turn cold to the cries of his children? “”Father, forgive us; for we do not know what we are doing.”
Who is our Barabbas? Why do we choose our Barabbas to take the place of the Lord of Life? How do we believe our Barabbas shall free our hearts and bring us closer to God? Will we continue to choose the easy way, the common way, the way that ultimately shall kill our souls?
Jesus’ voice cries out, “No”. Not so long as there is hope… and hope is what Jesus gives us, even from the agony of the cross… he prays for those who have hurt him, even there, even with his last breaths, he prays for them, and for us, that we might be forgiven for the times that we have run, for the times that we have betrayed, for the times that we did not speak up for the weak, for the times when our own safety won out over justice for another; Jesus prays because he loves; he loves, because he believes that even we are good; God saw that it was very; and we are in the image of the Son and he is in ours; our humanity is his; his divinity is ours; which seems like an unfair trade, but even so, his Spirit prays within us so that we might be forgiven and so that we might also forgive; his prayer wells up in us so that we might be changed, so that we might be broken and given for others, as he has been broken and given… may we remember him as we meet him in each other, on the streets, in schools, in war zones, hospitals and prisons; may we remember him in our work, in our joy, and in our solitude… “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom…” This day, may we worship the true King, who reigns from the throne of the cross… where everything is taken into God’s arms, to be changed from darkness into light; where death is not the last word, where we know we have been forgiven; where we have hope, where we have life and where we have peace. Father, forgive us… we do not always know what we are doing… help us to know…