Father, forgive them.
The first of Jesus’ seven statements from the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
The callous centurion who supervised Jesus’ death had seen many grisly crucifixions. But he saw and heard things that day that he had never seen or heard before. “Surely this man was the Son of God,” he said—and the soldiers, whose mother tongue was profanity, said the same. Those who had slandered him “beat their breasts” and fled the scene.
They didn’t know what they were doing when they taunted and crucified him, but now they sensed that they had participated in something hideously wrong.
He died that Friday for those who killed him. And for us. He wasn’t on the cross for his sins; he was there for theirs and ours (2 Cor 5:21).
Only when we see ourselves as participants
in his death do we feel gratitude for his sacrifice.