If you were sentenced to death for a crime that you didn’t commit, how would you be acting? Would you go gracefully to the gallows or electric chair or, with every breath, scream out your innocence? Would you blame the system and your captors or would you calmly accept your fate?
It’s difficult to accept any sort of punishment or retribution for wrongdoing when you know you’re innocent of the crime. Even more so to do it with grace and dignity. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.
He’d already been flogged and was carrying the beam of the cross where he would soon be nailed. People were yelling at him, calling out to him, and crying over him. He stops and tells them not to cry for him. When he finally makes it to The Skull, his hands and feet are pierced through and the cross is dropped into place.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34a (NLT)
Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them?! Even as he neared his final moments, Jesus somehow managed to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew he was innocent. He knew that the soldiers had been forced to do this to him. He knew that they, though not entirely innocent, deserved grace and forgiveness.
They may have known that they were putting an innocent man to death, but what they didn’t know is that they had a literal hand in the plan of salvation. The hands that wielded the hammers that pounded the nails through Jesus’ flesh were God-ordained. Without the callous men who held no qualms over killing an innocent man, Jesus never would have died. Never would have overcome death. Never would have risen. Never would be able to save the world.
Just because someone doesn’t know God or know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that their actions cannot be used of Him.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38