“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’” (Luke 23:32-35 NIV)
Forgiveness is hard, even when the person is repentant. But what of situations where the person is not repentant, does not acknowledge his wrongdoing? These are the hardest circumstances in which to forgive, but Jesus left us a model. Faced with a mob bent on seeing Him die, Jesus appeals to His Father, asking Him to forgive them.
To receive a gift, one must be willing to accept it, but it can be offered regardless. Offering the gift reflects the attitude of the heart. In the case of forgiveness, we offer it because we love (want what’s best for) the person, just as God loves us. It is up to the person to decide whether or not to receive it. And by doing so, we are set free from the grip of bitterness and hatred.
We aren’t told how many standing at the foot of the Cross received God’s gift, but we know it was offered. That is all we can do, but we must do it if we are walking behind Jesus. And the offer is not limited by the severity of the offense. Jesus was being killed when He uttered His plea to the Father.
Are there individuals in your life who have wronged you in some way and have never acknowledged it? Offer them the gift of forgiveness, just as the Lord offered it to you long before you acknowledged having wronged Him. They may choose not to accept it, but there is freedom in making the offer.
© Jim Musser 2017