When Jesus uttered the words from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”, he was practicing what he had preached.
He told us to forgive our enemies, bless them by praying for them.
Praying for our enemies does not mean, “Lord, I commit them to you” – because you probably hope God will kill them! No. Jesus means for us literally to pray that God will bless them. Almost certainly one of the hardest things in the world to do. It goes right against nature.
What really gets our goat so often is that those who have hurt us don’t know how hurt we are. And we want them to know – so we may say to them, “ I forgive you for what you have done”. They will say, “Whatever are you talking about?” We can’t bear the thought that they don’t know.
But in this situation lies the possibility truly to be like Jesus. It takes minimal grace to forgive people when they are sorry for what they have done. It takes a lot of grace to forgive people when they are not sorry – or when they do not know what they have done!
This gives us a wonderful opportunity to imitate Jesus who said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they have done”. That is possibly the highest spiritual plateau we can reach.
When we sincerely ask God to bless people who do not have a clue how much they have hurt us. Hard to do? Oh yes. But you may never have a better opportunity to imitate Jesus than when this comes along.
Dr RT Kendall was speaking on Premier Christian Radio's Thought for the Day. To hear more from RT, listen in to Inspirational Breakfast every morning this week from 7am