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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Did Jesus Ask the Father to Forgive Them When He Knew He Wouldn't?


    Most of us are familiar with the request Jesus so unselfishly asked the Heavenly Father while hanging on the cross: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  However, we also know that God turned away from that request, as Acts 2:23 & 36 reveal that they were still guilty of crucifying the One whom God has made both Lord and Christ. When the people were made to realize this, through preaching, they were "cut to the heart" and asked the apostles "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Without hesitation, Peter responded and said, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).

            This is somewhat puzzling; Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic (Mark 2:9); He forgave the sins of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:11); and, He forgave the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43), so why didn't He just forgive these people? That is, why did He, this time, ask the Father to forgive them?  Why is it that even though Jesus Himself forgave them,  the Father did not?

            It is my conviction that even in the last minutes prior to His death, Jesus was continuing to "give us an example that we must follow" (1Peter 2:21).

            In 1John 3, we learn many things about "love of the Brethren." The inspired apostle, writing to Christians, says, "Do not marvel, my brethren, if worldly people hate you" (vs 13);  "He who does not love his brother abides in death" (vs 14);  "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (vs 15); 

            It is no marvel when worldly people hate us, but it IS a "marvel" when one who claims to be a "brother" hates us!  The Holy Spirit says, "Such a one is abiding in death" (present tense).

            However, according to Jesus' example, this is a judgment of God the Father, and not us. Jesus forgave His persecutors, God did not.  This is the example that we should follow. The time is coming when God will make all things right. Vengeance belongs only to the Lord, and He will repay (Romans 12:19).  Those who are of a hard heart and impenitent ... those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, are storing up for themselves tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:5-8).

            What a grand and glorious *inner peace* this affords the true child of God. God is shaking the world, but we are not of the world (cf. Hebrews 12:27-28). Don't destroy your soul with anger, hostility and hate; that is not the example that Jesus demonstrated. Jesus says, ""Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12). Remember also that Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13). Salt is not only a preservative, it is also an irritant. Jesus did NOT say, "You are the *sugar* of the earth!


--Toby Miller


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