Home > Mercy, Sermons, The Holy Cross, The Righteous Perisheth > Father, Forgive them, For They Know Not

Father, Forgive them, For They Know Not

Good Friday—Tenebrae vespers

St. Peter Lutheran Church

The seven last words of Jesus

April 6, 2012


The first.  “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”


To bear witness to the truth is to suffer.  To serve as a priest is to make the sins of others your own and to go on their behalf before God who is displeased.


Jesus, our God, holy and mighty, is being killed by us.  And as He allows us our rage, our “righteous wrath”, as He allows us to inflict injury on Him, our God, He prays for us.  He pleads.  “They don’t know what they’re doing.  Forgive them.  They don’t know.”


If you could get a mother who harmed her child to speak honestly with you and bare her pain, she would say, “Oh God, I didn’t know what I was doing.”  I didn’t see how my behavior changed because of my addiction and how I hurt them.  I didn’t realize what I was doing to my baby; all I knew was that I was scared.


If we become aware that we have sinned against God’s church, it is the same.  “I didn’t know!” 


On judgment day many we will realize how all of our actions were actions toward Jesus.  When our brothers in the Church are in need and we say, “I don’t have time, I don’t have energy, I don’t want to take the risk,” it is Jesus we are saying that about…Jesus who is being crucified.  We didn’t know, the Roman soldiers will say, that we were nailing God to the cross.


I didn’t know that all my harsh words, all the cruel things I said and thought that I felt justified about because of the injuries against me—I didn’t know that I was doing violence to Jesus.


But we are.  If Jesus had not put Himself in the position for us to harm Him God would have crushed us for all our “justified” sins.


So let us no longer say, “I didn’t know,” but look at what you have been doing.  And then you will see that Jesus is not angry with you for what you have done.  He has been praying for your forgiveness.


See Jesus, Your God, suffering Your wrath and praying for you.  Seeing this makes you a priest who understands what it is to be a sinner, and a witness to such sinners of God’s salvation.  Seeing His priesthood—His praying for you while you attack Him?  It changes everything. 

It makes you no longer God, no longer Caesar, no longer Pilate, condemned to flog and crucify Jesus to save his own marginal life.  No longer a soldier killing and robbing under the cloak of the law.  No longer Peter, who says he wants to die with Jesus, but is ashamed of him and deserts him to die alone.  To hear Jesus pray for you while you hammer the nails into his hands, to realize that all along you have been after His life–and He is not demanding vengeance but pleading that you would live–

It makes you a priest like Him, who offers Himself up and saves those who hate Him. It makes you a king as He is a King, whose majesty is not outward trappings and an army, but that He wins the hearts of His enemies.

Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Colossians 3: 12-15


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: