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"A Plea for Forgiveness"
By Rev. Wayne Palmer
Lenten Devotion
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what
they do." ... (Luke 23:34a).
Holy Monday
Read Luke 23:32-34.
In a procession with two condemned criminals, Jesus is led
to the place of execution. The locals know it as "The Skull"
(see Luke 23:33)-possibly because of its shape, possibly
because it is the grisly place of execution and death.
And right away Jesus utters His first words from the cross,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Of
all the people who should be pleading for forgiveness-Judas,
the high priest, Pontius Pilate, his soldiers-the one who asks
on their behalf is Jesus, the sinless Son of God.
How amazing that even in this hour where His agony reaches
its climax Jesus doesn't turn inside Himself. He could pray
for justice-for vindication-for punishment on those who have
done this to Him. Instead, He pleads with His Father to forgive
Jesus' prayer is not restricted to Pontius Pilate and the Roman
soldiers who abused and nailed Him to the cross, nor to the
Jewish high priest and high court, or even to Judas, Peter and
the other disciples, who abandoned Him. He prays for you and
me, for all people of all time whose sins He has carried to this
dismal place.
But forgiveness isn't easy, or cheap. God the Father can't set
aside His holiness and justice-not when humans are doing this
to His pure and innocent Son. For the Father to be able to forgive
us, Jesus must step into our place and bear the divine punishment
we all deserve. That makes this one of the most incredible
prayers ever uttered in human history. "Father, forgive them"-by
punishing Me instead.
Lord Jesus, break through our ignorance and give us knowledge
of our sin. That we may repent of that sin and receive full and free
forgiveness for Your sake. Amen.
(Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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