They have beaten him. Whipped him. Falsely condemned him. Now in Luke 23:32-38, they hang him on the cross. The rulers scoff at him. The soldiers mock him. And Jesus responds with…forgiveness. Forgiveness! That he would ask the Father to forgive them speaks of his own heart of forgiveness. No bitterness. No wrath. No anger. No reviling. No malice. No hate. Just kindness. Compassion. Forgiveness.
And he shows that compassionate forgiveness to us. He hung on that cross for my sin and your sin. He hung there for our rebellion, our rejection. He hung there for all the times we fail to love and serve our Creator. He hung there for all the times we become so self-absorbed and fail to love those around us. He hung on that cross so we might be forgiven of all of our sins.
And he calls us to show compassionate forgiveness to others. When someone hurts us, our tendency is lash out or run away. But Jesus calls us to forgive. To forgive as we have been forgiven. To put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, reviling, malice, and hate. To rather show kindness, compassion, forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31-32). Jesus told us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who hurt us (Luke 6:27-28). And in this most extreme situation on the cross, Jesus lives out these instructions, and calls us to follow in doing so too. What a challenge! We can’t do this on our own. We need to stay so close to Jesus. And how convicting! How easily we fail, and need to run back to the cross to find his compassionate forgiveness again.