Historians tell us that cursing and begging for release were the most common words heard at crucifixions. But Jesus, while suffering untold agony and dying a shameful death, neither cursed His crucifiers nor begged them for release. Instead, as Luke 23:34 points out, He prayed for those who condemned Him, mocked Him and nailed Him to the Cross. And just before going to the cross, He also prayed for all those whose sins He was paying for with His shed blood: “Righteous Father ... I have made You known to them ... that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them” (Jn. 17:25-26).
Jesus could have called down legions of angels to wipe out His enemies (Mt. 26:53). But instead He practiced on the cross what He preached in the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). You know from experience that it is much easier to talk about forgiveness than it is to forgive. Are you ready to move from words to action?
Has someone hurt you? Was it anywhere near as bad as the suffering of Christ at Calvary? Christ prayed for those whose sins brought Him to the agony of the cross. Will you pray for the one who hurt you? When you do, you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). And perhaps you will even become friends with the one who sinned against you, just as Christ has befriended you (Jn. 15:14-15).
The Bible says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). You are among those He prayed for, and you’ve been freely forgiven. Shouldn’t you do likewise? Isn’t that what it means to be Christlike?
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org