"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots." Luke 23:34
Not only did Jesus purchase salvation for His people on the cross — He also gave us a perfect example of how to suffer graciously, to the glory of God. In the seven statements by Christ on the cross that are recorded for us in Scripture, we are given seven molds that should shape our responses to grief, tragedy, pain, and injustice.
The first words that we hear from our Savior’s mouth—as He suffers at the hands of ignorant, cruel, and deceitful men—are words of kindness and mercy. And so the first lesson we learn from our suffering Lord is this: forgive and pray for those who have wronged you.
This, of course, is never our first inclination. We wish to strike back, speak out, or count up all the wrongs that we have suffered. Yet here is the only truly innocent person that has ever lived and, while He is dying at the unjust and cruel hands of His enemies, He is speaking words of genuine pity and pardon.
It is evident that the New Testament Christians took this example to heart, for they emulate Him time and again. As Steven is being stoned to death for preaching the gospel, his prayer is “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). As Paul faced the wicked Roman ruler Nero even some of his closest companions forsook him; yet, his response was “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Timothy 4:16).
Has someone harmed you? Have you been the victim of unfair treatment? How have you responded? Have you forgiven them? Have you prayed for them? If Jesus could forgive on the cross, certainly we can forgive because of the cross.
I carefully mapped out my strategy, which would begin with an early visit to the Twin Towers’ sight-seeing deck in order to get a bird’s eye view of all of New York. To this day, I don’t know why my alarm clock didn’t go off, allowing me to get up early and head to the Twin Towers for sight-seeing — but it didn’t.