Christ: The Perfect Example of Forgiveness

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Such is the first cross word of our dying Lord and Savior.  Though He is tormented by the nails driven into His hands and feet by the Roman soldiers, and taunted by the cries of the Jews, He, the perfect Lamb, has pity on His persecutors, intercedes, and asks for their and our forgiveness.

Christ’s manner of forgiveness is also to be noted.  Christ was meek and gentle toward His tormentors.  He was an innocent man, He was the promised Messiah which was being crucified—and yet He utters this beautiful cry asking God to forgive “them; for they know not what they do…”

Christ is a fine example of forgiveness.  Other examples are David’s forgiveness of his son Absalom, the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the parable of the Two Debtors, which is as follows:

There was a servant who owed his lord ten thousand talents.  But his lord had pity on him and forgave him the debt.  Then the same servant went out and demanded of a fellow servant, which owed him 100 pence, to pay the debt, or else be cast into prison.

And so the parable goes.

Shouldn’t we have pity on our fellow servants even as Christ had pity on us?  “Forgive them,” Christ said, “for they know not what they do.”

It was necessary for Christ to utter this prayer.  If Christ hadn’t forgiven his persecutors, there would have been no deliverance, and Christ’s crucifixion would have ended the world.  If Christ hadn’t said this prayer, “Christ would have died in vain, and no one would be saved.”  (Rev. M. Schipper in his article “A Prayer For Forgiveness.”

Christ prayed not only for those who had a part in His crucifixion, but for all His sons in Adam.  He prayed for you and me.  Christ prayed and we are forgiven.  This doesn’t mean that punishment for this sin of crucifying Jesus is delayed, but it is blotted out, wiped away.

We should forgive our brethren for their trespasses against us, instead of “rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing…” (I Peter 3:9).  We should patiently forgive even our enemies, for it could have been just as easy for God to look down on us guilty, ignorant, unworthy people and despise us.  Let us then be thankful for this prayer and unlike the unjust servant, forgive our neighbor even as Christ forgave us.