April 2, 2021

JD Wilhelm
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Luke 23:32-34

Reading the story of the crucifixion we can tend to read into the story the understanding we now possess from our enlightened perspective. We bring our presuppositions into the text and ask questions like “How could they have not known this was the Christ?” We get frustrated and annoyed with the actions of the religious leaders, the people, and the criminal who mocks Jesus. We harbor anger, point fingers, and miss the intended purpose in these verses.

In setting aside our presuppositions and instead of reading out of the text we get a whole new perspective on this moment. Its perspective is shaped by Jesus’ prayer. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” In this prayer, we see that although Jesus is suffering and in great agony, his response is that of grace. It is a response that is shaped by the love and acceptance of even those who have caused him this pain.

This is the great message of the Gospel, that the gift of life is freely given to even those who do absolutely nothing to deserve it including us. Viewed from this perspective it becomes clear that this story is not about us! But it is all about God’s great love for us and that nothing we can do disqualifies us from receiving it.