They knew exactly what they were doing! 

Wrestling with forgiveness on many occasions, I’ve cried out to the Lord,

“They knew exactly what they were doing.”

As the Holy Spirit nudged me to forgive, I held on to that phrase like a stubborn child clenches his jaws around a piece of candy he’s not supposed to have.


There in all his patience and goodness, the Holy Spirit tried to walk me through what it means to forgive like Jesus.


As Jesus hung on the cross, taking his last breaths, he asked his Heavenly Father a profound request:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34


But didn’t they know!?!

Didn’t they purposefully go after Jesus.

They paid someone off to locate him.

They hunted him down.

Arrested him.

Paid people to lie about what he said and what they had witnessed.

They planned his murder and convinced Pilate to crucify him.

When they were given one last out, they stirred up the crowd.

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

They had the Roman soldiers drive nails into his hands and feet.

They spat on him.

They mocked him.

Don’t tell me, Lord, they didn’t know what they were doing!

But then the Lord pulled back the shades of anger from my eyes, and there lay all our spiritual hearts.

Finally, I saw what I was unwilling to see before.  All the times I’ve sinned. All the times I’ve justified what I have done.  All the times I sinned believing I was doing right. All the times I hung my head after I’d sinned.

The truth is, we have all crucified Christ with our sins.  When Jesus asked his Father to forgive them, he also asked his Father to forgive us.

We have with misguided hearts sinned against a sinless savior. In sinning, we set Him up on the cross. We spat at his grace and mercy. We rejected him as our Messiah just as those who plotted against Him.

Missing the Spiritual Aspect

The truth is neither those who plotted to crucify Jesus nor we, really understood what we were doing.  Yes, we might have physically and mentally understood a part of it, but we totally missed the spiritual aspect.

The truth that Jesus spoke on the cross resonates in my heart.  It is filled with such patient grace for us.  It calls us to understand why he could forgive us and how he could say we don’t understand what we are doing.

If they truly understood that Jesus was God in the flesh, they would not have crucified Him.

If we truly understand that we slap Jesus in the face with the grace he has extended to us when we sin, we would not do it.

Forgiving Like Jesus

It’s too easy to look at another and believe that they knew exactly what they were doing but do we say the same about our actions?

Now, when I’m confronted with a pain that is too heavy to bear because of a wrong someone has committed against me and my forgiveness starts to be held back, I can’t help but hear Christ’s words echo in my heart.

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

Christ’s words were true then as he hung on the cross and they are true every time someone sins against Him now.  These words ring true when someone commits wrongs against us too.


Prayer Over Our Hearts

Oh, Lord!  Your holiness is astounding.  It’s so difficult to understand how much you love us, even when we sin against you.  Yet, you are faithful and loving to all you have created.  You call us back to you. You forgive us as we are hurting you with our sin.

Let us allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives so that your grace and mercy will allow us to forgive before others ask.  Allow us to exercise this muscle of forgiveness so that we too can begin to forgive even as we are attacked. Let us see others with your eyes. Let us not hold grudges or records of wrongs but truly let your love shine through us so you can be glorified.

Even as we are being attacked, Lord, let us proclaim your love for those who are attacking us.  May our eyes be opened to the spiritual battle around us and use your truth and forgiveness to win the battles set before us.

In the One who daily teaches us how to forgive and receive forgiveness – Amen!