Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34
Within twenty-four hours of his mother Sharonda’s tragic death, Chris found himself uttering these powerful, grace-filled words: “Love is stronger than hate.” His mother, along with eight others, had been killed at a Wednesday night Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. What was it that had so shaped this teenager’s life that these words could flow from his lips and his heart? Chris is a believer in Jesus whose mother had “loved everybody with all her heart.”
In Luke 23:26–49 we get a front row seat to an execution scene that included two criminals and the innocent Jesus (v. 32). All three were crucified (v. 33). Amid the gasps and sighs and the likely groans from those hanging on the crosses, the following words of Jesus could be heard: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34). The hate-filled initiative of the religious leaders had resulted in the crucifixion of the very One who championed love. Though in agony, Jesus’ love continued to triumph.
How have you or someone you love been the target of hate, ill-will, bitterness, or ugliness? May your pain prompt your prayers, and may the example of Jesus and people like Chris encourage you by the power of the Spirit to choose love over hate.
When have you found it hard to love someone? Is there someone you find it hard to forgive now? What steps might you take?
Father, forgive me when I find it hard to forgive others. Help me to demonstrate that love is stronger than hate.
In Luke 23:34, Jesus asked God to forgive those who mocked Him and hung Him on the cross. The people and rulers scoffed, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One” (v. 35). What they didn’t understand was that Jesus was saving others—and them—by freely giving Himself. One simply needs to accept this gift of salvation.
Psalm 22 resonates through Luke’s words. The words of Psalm 22:8—“Let [the Lord] deliver him, since he delights in him”—are reflected in Luke 23:35. That Jesus was mocked is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:6–18, which describes “villains” surrounding Him, piercing His hands and feet, and casting lots for His clothes. The mockers likely didn’t realize their actions were fulfilling Old Testament prophecy and therefore proving Christ was the Messiah.