What 'Father, Forgive Them' Teaches Us About Radical Forgiveness (2023)

Perhaps the most graceful and truly moving moment is when Jesus utters the first of the seven utterances from the cross:"Father, forgive them because they don't know what they are doing"(Lucas 23:34). And yet, it's not just the Romans who are responsible for nailing Jesus to that cross. It is our sin that led to the crucifixion of our Savior in what is easily the most loving sacrifice ever made and an example of theprayerthat we should all keep close to our hearts.

What is the meaning of 'Father, forgive them'?

Let's break this down:

“Father:” We see Jesus using a familiar term here that shows the relationship he had with God the Father. This is contrasted with Jesus' later statement,"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"(Matthew 27:46). This is a change in relationship, as darkness covers the sky and silence covers the earth for three hours. We see this relationship restored with Jesus' last statement on the cross:"Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit"(Lucas 23:46 See More).

“Forgive them:” The cross is the main symbol of the last sacrifice. We are forgiven for the horrible and painful death of Jesus. There are some schools of thought about what, or rather,to whomJesus meant by the word "them".

It is obvious that Jesus is asking forgiveness for those who were really responsible for putting him on the cross, i.e. Pilate, the Romans, the Jewish leaders, those who mocked him, etc. But his forgiveness is also forevery person he's dying for, and that includes you, and that includes me.

What is the context ofLucas 23:34?

By verse 34 of this chapter, Jesus has passed the so-called "trial" of the Jewish leaders, several scourgings, the verdict of Pilate, and has now been nailed to the cross, hanging between two criminals who were being justly punished (by the laws of that day) for their crimes.

His clothes are being thrown around while he is hurt and humiliated for no reason other than the leaders.hatedto him.

And yet we see that compassion comes from Jesus when he calls our Heavenly Father to forgive him.

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When was the last time someone humiliated or hurt you? When was the last time someone put you in such an unbearable situation that it looked like you wouldn't come out unscathed on the other side?

Was forgiveness the order of the day or did it take time to get over this pain and grief? We must be careful not to let anger turn to bitterness, even if we are absolutely right in the situation. We must follow the example of Jesus andpray perhaps one of the hardest prayers we could ever pray. He was without sin and death was absolute.

And yet He says, "Father, forgive them."

of the cross

Facing death.

In incredible, treacherous pain.

And His answer is to forgive.

What does 'Father, forgive them' teach us about radical forgiveness?

Jesus provides the final prayer for forgiveness for us to follow. Because how the hell are we supposed to not forgive someone when Jesus is literally bleeding and desperate for breath as he lifts his beaten and broken body over the nails in his feet and wrists and the first words he says are forgiveness?

Scripture after scripture tells us of the importance of forgiveness.

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Marcos 11:25It says that when we pray, we forgive anyone we hold a grudge against so that we can be forgiven.

Ephesians 1:7-8beautiful says this:"In it we haveredemptionthrough his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound for us in all wisdom and peace.

That redemption is through the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross. That same cross where Jesus Himself is asking forgiveness for those who were responsible for the agony He was suffering physically, but also spiritually, as He carried the weight of our sin upon Himself.

Talk about radical forgiveness.

Our society has almost reached the peak of taking offense at every little misstep. We are angry about the books people are reading and the fact that anyone dares to disagree with our way of thinking.

Forgiveness doesn't think twice because beating, burning, canceling, fact-checking and anything that gives an air of superiority are the idols we put before our eyes instead of focusing on our Savior, His sacrifice and His amazing example of demonstration of love, grace andsorryfor people who literally hate and kill.

Can you imagine a world where we took this example and really followed through? Where do we show someone grace and forgiveness when we feel wronged?

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, God made flesh, could have come down from the cross at any time, but He chose to forgive and chose to take our sins upon Himself so that we could have eternity with Him in heaven.

Radical love. Radical sorry. It is a radical concept that must be part of our choice to respond with love as Jesus did. because the bible says inJoão 13:35let the world know that we are your disciples for our sake.

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A prayer that we forgive like Jesus did

What excuse do we have for not forgiving those we feel have wronged us? With Jesus' simple but powerful prayer, we have a model of how to respond when we are offended, betrayed, belittled and wronged.

Jesus' prayer is intercessory, which means that He prays on behalf of others.Isaiah 53:12prophesied this prayer,“…because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and intercedes for the transgressors.”(ESV).

In the final hours of Jesus' life on earth, he chooses to pray for others rather than seek revenge. After all, the Scriptures say that vengeance comes from the Lord, and He will pay (seeDeuteronomy 32:35).

Instead, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them." Let's remember that this is not the only time Jesus uses this model to show us the right way to pray. he tells us inMateus 6:5-14 See Morein the Our Father how we should pray. Verses 12-13 say“…and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Because we have to ask forgiveness for ourselves and we have to forgive those who hurt us. Verse 14 continues,"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you"(ESV).

Jesus gave us the instructions (ask for forgiveness and forgive others) andthe example (intercede for others).

With the arrival of Easter, we remember Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross and celebrate the empty tomb. Because our King is risen. He is alive. We have the ability to join Him in heaven one day because He bore our sins and took our punishment.

It's easy to live in the forgiveness that Jesus died for, but sometimes it's hard to pass it on to others. We must be attentive, especially at this time, but also later, to what Jesus decided to say about the cross. May we follow his example.

See a breakdown of the various translations ofLucas 23:34 em BibleStudyTools.com.

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another read

Jesus' incredible request on the cross: "Father, forgive them"

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Lisa Valder

What 'Father, Forgive Them' Teaches Us About Radical Forgiveness (1)Bethany Jett has won numerous awards for her books and marketing campaigns and is a sought-after speaker for women and teens. An entrepreneur at heart, Bethany co-owns two publishing companies.

She's her college boyfriend's military wife and work-at-home mom of boys who loves planners, thrillers, and all things girly.

Connect with Bethany on your favorite platform by visiting her website:BethanyJett.com

This article is part of our larger Holy Week andResurrection EasterResource library focused on the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and history behind important Christian holidays and dates, and encourage you to take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

What is Lent and why is it celebrated?
What is Holy Week?
What is Palm Sunday?
What is Maundy Thursday?
What is Good Friday?

What is Easter?
easter prayers

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On Easter, the Son of God took on the sin of the world and defeated the devil, death, and the grave. How is it that the most glorious moment in history is surrounded by fearful fishermen, scorned tax collectors, rejected women, weak politicians and traitorous friends?

EmEaster characters,you'll meet the unlikely group of ordinary people who witnessed the miracle of Christ's death and resurrection.FREE podcastbrings a new focus to Lent and can be used as a devotional or study for individuals and groups.

What 'Father, Forgive Them' Teaches Us About Radical Forgiveness (2)


1. The Power of Forgiveness - Pastor Melini Naidoo
(Justin Naidoo)
2. Colin Tipping, Radical Forgiveness #forgive FORGIVENESS SECRETS
(Michele Paiva Therapy & Self-Help)
3. The Nature of Forgiveness
(We Need to Talk with Kris Godinez)
4. Woman's Miraculous Healing Comes after Radical Forgiveness
(The 700 Club)
5. Forgiveness
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6. It Is Written - Radical Forgiveness
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