Relationships

Essential Forgiveness-Part 1

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MW Editor’s note: Mentoring Warriors welcomes Mark Rogers to the tribe of guest writers. Mark spoke during a Mentoring Warriors Mountain Man Adventure trip to Colorado. This week’s and next’s posts is a compilation of Mark’s thoughts on forgiveness.  Welcome, Mark.

“Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” 

We read these words spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross in Luke 23:34, these are some of his final words.

Your Bible may have a note attached stating that some of the earliest manuscripts do not include this phrase. I did a little research using my limited knowledge of Greek and my small library of Bible study aides. Of the two earliest, most complete manuscripts of the Greek New Testament dating from the Fourth Century, one, Codex Sinaiticus includes it while the other, Codex Vaticanus, does not. 

I remember hearing these words of Jesus from my earliest childhood. To me they speak of the reason He came, to forgive sinners, such as me. Therefore, I have treasured these words and believe them to be true. I want to examine these words more closely together with you. this morning.

Among the reasons, most students of the Bible believe these words to be accurate and from Jesus is because of similar statements, as recorded in the scriptures.

In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus says, “I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

In Acts 7:60 Stephen prays, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Also in Numbers 15:25-31, we read that unintentional sins, even of the whole congregation, Hebrew and resident alien alike, shall be forgiven.

And in Isaiah 53:11-12 “my servant shall make many righteous, he shall bear their iniquities, . . he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Providing forgiveness for others, enemies included is clear from Scripture. 

Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness is vague and does not clearly define who the “they” are. 

  1. “They” could be the immediate Roman executioners. 

As he looked down from the cross he saw his immediate executioners, the Roman soldiers. They knew what they were doing, following orders, executing those the court of Caesar had passed judgment on. But they did not know the circumstances, whether a person was innocent or not, what politics were involved, and what religious powers were at stake. They did not know Jewish history and beliefs about sin, judgment, sacrifice, atonement, Messiah, and the Kingdom of God. They did not know what they were doing in the grand scheme of God’s redemptive plan. They did not know what Jesus was doing for their spiritual condition, for their actual, spiritual lives. They did not know the real, ultimate, life and death act of which they were carrying out at the moment. They were not aware of their need for a Savior.

  1. “They” could refer to the Jewish leaders who arrested him, gave him to Pilate’s court, and shouted, “Crucify Him.”

As he looked down from the cross he could have been thinking of the Jewish leaders who had and knew the words of Moses, David, and the Prophets. They knew God had promised a Messiah, a Redeemer, who would come to save Israel from Her past, Her sins, and Her transgressions. They knew of the promised Suffering Servant. They knew the sacrificial system was incomplete but pointed to a perfect sacrifice that only God could give for His people. 

But they did not know what they were doing because they were blinded by pride, selfishness, and the lust for power. They did not know what they were doing because they had misinterpreted Moses, David, and the Prophets. In their minds, they had changed the Word of God to meet the current, immediate situation. They saw the enemy as Rome, and not their own personal sin. They wanted a political, economic savior; not a personal, spiritual savior. They were not cognizant of their need for a new life, for rebirth, for a personal, righteous sacrifice for their individual wrongdoings. They were not aware of their need for a Savior.

  1. “They” could also refer to each individual sinner who put Jesus on the cross for his/her individual sins.  

As he looked down from the cross he could have been thinking of every sin and sinner for whom he was dying. He could have been thinking of you and me. From an early age, I knew I was guilty. I knew I was not good enough. I knew I was a hopeless case, no matter how hard I tried. 

But I didn’t know that my sin; my pride and my selfishness put Him on the cross. I didn’t know the consequences of my sin for Jesus. I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried to be good, I tried to trust in Jesus. I cried tears of shame and guilt knowing I needed a Savior, but uncertain as to how to make him my savior. I was not fully aware of what Jesus did for me until I was 13. Shortly after my 13th birthday I confessed my sins, sought repentance, and put my trust in Him. 

Have you confessed Him as Lord? Do you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead? Romans 10:9-10 says

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.”

What are we to do with these words of Jesus? 

Next week, we will look at the conclusion of Essential Forgiveness.

Warrior On!

Mark Rogers

Born in Omdurman, Sudan, Mark grew up in Africa, the son of missionaries. He brings a worldview perspective that integrates Christ into all aspects of life. Today, Mark and his wife live in central Kansas, where Jesus continues to write his story in Mark.

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