Jesus Was a Sucker
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
I’m not usually one to hold grudges. When someone apologizes for an offense, I’m generally quick to forgive. If someone has wronged me and doesn’t seem to care though, well, that’s a different story. If I’m honest, there are those who still cause resentment to flare up whenever I think about them. I know I should just let it go, but it seems so unfair that I should have to forgive those who will never feel bad for what they’ve done. I’d be a sucker to let them off the hook if they don’t feel any remorse, right?
Today’s passage illustrates the flaw in my thinking. In the story, Jesus was arrested, mocked, beaten, and hung on a cross to die slowly. As he hung naked, the soldiers divided up his garments like trophies. In agony, with his life slipping away, he used what little breath he had to ask this; Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
As he was dying, Jesus begged God, not for relief or vengeance, but to forgive those who were killing him. Jesus loved mankind so much that his sacrifice could provide absolution even those who nailed him to a cross. According to my calculations, this makes Jesus a colossal sucker. The chief priests and soldiers didn’t want or deserve forgiveness. I wouldn’t have forgiven them. Jesus loved them so much however, that he forgave.
The blessed lesson here, is that Christ’s sacrifice covers everything evil I’ve ever done and ever will do. God has wiped my debt away and there’s nothing I can do that is so bad that I cannot be forgiven. If Jesus can forgive those who crucified him, he can forgive me.
The more difficult lesson is that Jesus asks me to follow his example. I too, must practice mercy like a fool, forgiving even those who will never ask for it. I want to see groveling before I forgive. Jesus, however, said that I must love others as he’s loved me. Forgiving the offender may not be important to that individual, but it’s my soul that’s at stake. Holding on to resentment is toxic to my spiritual life. Letting go, even though it may make me feel like a sucker, is the only path to the life, joy, and peace that God intends for me.