Father Forgive Them

Today’s lectionary reading comes from Luke 23:34-38. This is a portion of Luke’s account of the crucifixion. More specifically, it is the small portion (only 4 verses after all) where Jesus’ clothes are divided by lots and the soldiers and other people mock him saying that he should be able to save himself.

On a personal note, I feel that I must share something that has me shaking my head at myself. The church that I’m serving as Intern Pastor does not follow the lectionary, so admittedly, my exposure to the lectionary has been minimal (in truth non-existent) for the past 3 months with the exception of writing this daily reflection. If you are familiar with the layout of the lectionary, it is of course 3 years, labeled A B and C respectively. For some reason, I had it in my head that we had just wrapped up Year B this past Sunday (hint, with this Sunday being the start of Advent it’s also the start of the new church year).  Therefore, in my head (jilted though it may be) we were entering into Year C.

Now here’s the really strange part…one would think that if I was following the lectionary for year C I would be utilizing the texts for the first week of year C…I haven’t been.

I’ve actually been using the correct ones.

So either this was a momentary brain hiccup today, or someone was watching over me to keep me on track. Not sure which, but what the heck.

Now back to today’s reflection.

My main reaction is two-fold on this short passage. On one hand we see the incredible grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. Here he is, literally hanging on the cross, and he’s asking for forgiveness of the sin of those that put him there.  Some scholars will argue that he’s actually praying for the forgiveness of the whole world at this point, referring to everyone’s sinfulness. This is certainly a possibility though at first glance it would seem that he’s speaking about those in the immediate vicinity.

My second thought stems from the mocking that’s occurring at this point. Verse 37…If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.

Is this simple mocking, or are the people actually asking for a sign. Maybe, just maybe, if Jesus had saved himself from the cross at this point, some of the people would have believed in him.  Granted, this is only speculation on my point, I have no evidence to back it up. Rather I’m offering up a potential to get you to think. We never know how people will react in any given situation and it’s not like we haven’t seen times when Jesus has been asked for a sign before. I guess that my own reaction to this train of thought pulls in Jesus own words to Satan at the time of his temptation. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Maybe that’s why, on a small scale anyway, Jesus didn’t give in to this temptation either.

Perhaps it would be better to focus on the fact that being on the cross convinced at least 2 people. If we continue reading from here we see the account of one of the two criminals asking Jesus for deliverance into Heaven. Also, the centurion proclaims Jesus’ innocence.

As we look back, perhaps it is easy to offer our hindsight perspective on the death of Jesus. But at the time, it was no easy thing. Maybe in the end all we can say is thank you Jesus.

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