On or about this time long ago, the only perfect man who ever lived willingly laid down His life for you and me. Although there were many legal aspects to what transpired at Calvary, the greatest thing that should always be remembered is the love which was manifested by God in so giving His Son for people who did not deserve Him, and in fact rejected Him.
As Jesus was dying, He beseeched the Father to forgive those who had crucified Him for they did not know what they had done. On the surface, this is an odd request since it certainly appears the people knew good and well what they had done. Jesus was a heretic, a blasphemer and a liar. There was no alternative in the people’s minds other than to crucify the one who had dared tell them the truth.
But, God does not look on the outward appearance but rather on the heart. The throngs of people chanting for the crucifixion of Jesus were whipped into their frenzy by men whom Jesus Himself said were children of the devil. Jesus was not asking the Father to forgive those men but rather the multitudes who were simply carried along in the moment and the Roman guards who were Gentiles.
Jesus did not look down from the cross with fire in His eyes, promising judgment and wrath upon those who mocked and despised Him. To the contrary, Jesus felt compassion for the ignorant and misguided multitudes and begged the Father to overlook their sin and forgive them. Of all the things that took place on that cross, I believe the request for forgiveness was the greatest.
We were no different than those standing around watching the spectacle of the crucifixion either out of curiosity or anger. Those who were there 2000 years ago were sinners just like you and me. Jesus understood who He was and what He was doing on that cross and in an astounding act of kindness and love; He forgave those who had sought to kill Him.
A huge part of the Christian message is forgiveness. If Jesus could so love that He forgave those who betrayed, mocked, beat and crucified Him; can’t we forgive those who do us wrong? If God could forgive us of all our sins because of what Jesus did; can’t we forgive ourselves for the times we have erred and gone astray?
On this day when so many feel such deep sorrow for what happened to Jesus, I believe we should take this time to honestly reflect upon the depth of love and compassion poured out on the cross not only through Jesus giving His life but in the overwhelming mercy and grace reflected in the message of forgiveness manifested by Jesus and the Father.
Christianity is the only faith that actively practices forgiveness. That, to me, is what makes this Friday so “Good”. It is indeed a good Friday to forgive and give the love of Christ.