Father forgive them.
I was thinking today about the comment, "Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing." The identifier "Father" is easy to understand. It means our Heavenly Father. "Forgive them," while difficult to do is also easy to understand. We then have the comment, "They don’t know what they are doing?" Jesus said this in response to those who were killing Him. Stephen said this as people were in the process of killing him. Countless martyrs have said this as they were being burned at the stake or otherwise killed for their belief in Jesus.
The questions I have are these:
What is it that people don’t know that they are doing? and
Are there occasions when we should be saying, or at least thinking the same thing, while ‘bad’ things are being done to us?
A clue to the answer for the first question is found when Jesus said to Paul, shortly before Paul’s conversion, "Paul why are you persecuting me?" Persecuting Jesus? Jesus had already been tortured to death by the time Paul heard that voice. Paul was focussed on torturing and killing followers of Jesus. He didn’t care about Jesus the person. So what did Jesus mean that Paul was doing something to Him? Well, Jesus was not and is not dead. He is risen. He is alive! What’s more, Jesus has said emphatically that what we do to others, we are doing to Him. Jesus said that when we do something as ‘small’ as giving a glass of water to a little child, we are being kind to Him. When we withhold kindness from someone we are withholding kindness from Him. When we look down on others, we are looking down on Jesus.
The answer to the first question then, is that very few people are aware of what they are doing to Jesus as they berate a small child, refuse to forgive others, cheat on their spouses, lie to their friends, steal from their employers, view others as though they were nothing more than a sexual object etc..
The answer to the second question would be yes, indeed, on all occasions we need to be forgiving people who harm us. We should do this not only because were commanded to, but because they really don’t know what they are doing or to whom they are doing it when they hurt us.