Today’s Reading: St. Luke 22:1-23:56
Daily Lectionary: Exodus 10:21-11:10; Hebrews 4:1-16
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (St. Luke 23:34)
Each of the four Evangelists paints the picture of our Lord’s Passion in a particular way. St. Luke, a trained physician, shows us that Jesus is the compassionate, merciful, forgiving Savior – even when He is suffering death on the cross. So only in Luke, do we hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus shows us what it means to pray, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But there is always more with Jesus. St. Stephen prayed for forgiveness for those who stoned him. But while our Lord prays for their forgiveness, He actually also does the forgiveness.
To forgive means to pay the price for what someone has done against you. It means to bear the punishment for the wrong and let the sin and its penalty rests on you. Only God can do that. So when Jesus says, “Father, forgive them”, He is at the same time undergoing the punishment that makes that possible. When Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them,” He is praying for your forgiveness – for your inborn and daily sin that made His death necessary – and, at the same time, Jesus is suffering the death that will win and give you just that.
Luke’s compassionate and merciful Jesus is not meek and mild. He is strong to save. He stands in there and takes the punishment and for your benefit suffers the death He doesn’t deserve. As Jesus, Himself, says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,” (St. John 15:13). And yet, the compassion of our Jesus is greater even than that – because He lays down His life and suffers death even for His enemies.
Jesus’ prayer is for you. He doesn’t just speak forgiveness, but accomplishes it by bearing and carrying your sin in His body to death. Jesus knows what He is doing. He is dying, so that His forgiveness, life and salvation might be delivered to you even today – by Holy Baptism, by Holy Absolution, and by the Holy Supper of our Lord’s Body and Blood. All for you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Grant, we implore You, almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds are continually afflicted, may mercifully be relieved by the Passion of Your only-begotten Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” (Collect for Wednesday of Holy Week)
Today's Reflection is written by the Rev'd Marcus Zill (firstname.lastname@example.org) of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church & Student Center in Laramie, Wyoming.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.