I used to be a very angry, bitter young woman… that could have very easily turned into an angry, bitter old woman. Anger doesn’t just “go away.”
One of the first things the Lord began to teach me was forgiveness. I wish I could say that I learned that lesson and moved on… but No-o-o-o. Oh, I learned to forgive, and I learned the freedom that it brings, but I certainly have not mastered the lesson. It seems that my loving Heavenly Father knows that there are levels of forgiveness and He is teaching me to go deeper.
We know forgiveness is important because of how Jesus taught His disciples to pray. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” That is always such a two-edged sword. I certainly know that I need forgiveness, so it’s not like I can say “Well, I’m good right now, so I don’t need to forgive that person for hurting me!” Nope! I continually need to be forgiven, so I continually need to forgive … and walk in forgiveness.
Usually, little offenses go unnoticed (now). Like water rolls off a duck’s back, they just don’t bother me as much as they did when I was a baby Jesus-follower. However, when someone purposely attacks, or cheats, or causes pain… that is a whole different story. Lately, that is what I’ve been dealing with … and not very well, I might add. When we’ve REALLY been hurt, it is not always easy to let go. We may not even want to forgive, feeling justified in our anger. Forgiveness, like love, is a choice. It is not an emotion… not a feeling. Feelings come and go… rise and fall. God gave us the power to choose … not only to choose Him, but also to choose to love like Him. This is one of those times where I was even having trouble wanting to forgive.
Thankfully I have friends that love me enough to tell me the truth … and to continually point me to The Truth. One of my dear friends suggested I ask Jesus what new thing He wanted to teach me about forgiveness. So, I asked Him.
I was walking my dog and decided that was a good time for our talk. “Jesus, what new thing do you want to show me about forgiveness?” Just a couple of houses later, I “heard” Jesus saying … from the cross … “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I almost couldn’t believe my ears. I’d read this before, but it really hit me this time.
Really Jesus! They know not what they do! Really?!?! Those soldiers and Jewish leaders knew what they were doing. Crucifixion was a cruel, sadistic way to kill someone. They knew that … they’d done it before … and watched it … many times!
OK, so maybe those soldiers were just following orders. But the soldiers who had beat Jesus, whipped Him until His flesh hung in ribbons from His back, fashioned a crown of thorns to add even more pain … not to mention the mocking – they certainly were intentionally cruel … purposely causing pain. They knew!
Yet Jesus said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Was He delusional? Was He wrong?
Here are my thoughts … what do you think?
I believe He was saying that on a deeper level … the deepest level of truth … they didn’t know. For example, they didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God … the Lord of the Universe. They didn’t know that they were playing into the hands of Satan. They didn’t know that Jesus was dying for them, too. And there’s probably more … still deeper.
Was Jesus talking just to His executioners… those directly involved in at that time and that place? I don’t think so. Because, as cruel as they were, those people did not keep Him from getting down off that cross. The nails did not hold Him there. His love for us … all of us … including them … is what held Him there. I think He was asking His Father to forgive ALL OF MANKIND… throughout time … everywhere. That includes all of you … me … and those who have hurt us.
Jesus taught us that He forgives our sins on every level… the levels we know about, and the levels we have no idea about.
This made me think that I need to forgive those who have hurt me on purpose (or those I love) … not only for what they knew they were doing, but also for what they did on a deeper level … for how the enemy used their vicious words … their lies … their deception … and for how it hurt … at the very core of our being.
And how can we do that? Because at the very core of Jesus’ being, He is Love … and Forgiveness … on all levels. He is the Restorer. He is the Healer. He is the One who brings salvation. In Greek, the word for salvation is “sozo.” It means saved, restored, delivered, made whole.
We don’t have to stay wounded. We can be whole again.