Today's Reading: Luke 22:1-23:56
"And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And they cast lots to take his clothes." (Luke 23:34)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No, Jesus. You can't pray that prayer! We all know that to forgive someone they must be sorry first! You have to show the person he or she is wrong. They have to be sorry--really sorry. If we see they're sorry enough, and only then, do we forgive them.
But God is so much more wonderfully gospelly than we can ever be! The Lord Jesus, as He is surrounded by people who mock Him, who say the most hurtful things, who tried to kill, and who are killing him hurl insults at him, upholds the Eighth Commandment and actually defends them. It's as if He says, "They just can't be doing this! They can't understand who I am! If they did, they wouldn't do this!"
Everything else shows that they--no we--did indeed know what we were doing to Jesus! We condemned Him for claiming to be God. We piously judged Him for giving forgiveness away to tax collectors and sinners whom everyone knows don't deserve it. Then, as He hung there, we judged Him some more, "You saved others, now save yourself! If you are the Christ, save yourself and we will believe in You!"
Here's how God is for you: He sits on the edge of the His seat ready to forgive you. He isn't stingy with forgiveness like we are, but He actually wants to forgive. He wants to save not just you but everyone around you, too! He's going to toss His forgiveness and rain His love for you in Christ, shower mercy, blurt out an Absolution, and joyfully fill your ears with the Gospel to save you. And faith that is born from those gifts grasps hold of the Calvary-won forgiveness, and you are saved.
Don't I have to repent? How could you not repent? God has given His Son for you to save you. You don't deserve His mercy. You don't merit His favor. You are--even if you think you're a pretty good person in the world--still a sinner. Sinners need a savior--the Savior.
Repent and look at Jesus' example! He's eager to forgive. He defends His neighbor, even as they crucify Him. He forgives even people who aren't sorry! He dies so that they would live! We, too, in Him, can die to ourselves and gladly love and forgive those who sin against us!
His forgiveness is first! Forgiveness achieved on the Cross by His holy keeping of the Law and His bitter sufferings and death. Forgiveness is given to us in His gifts. Forgiveness is passed from us to those who sin against us. It starts here: Your sins are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.