Forgive Them - Life Application Study Bible Devotional

Forgive Them

Luke 23:34-38, NIV

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Setting the Scene

In the shocking first moments after being elevated between earth and sky—as the criminals cursed, the crowd mocked, and the soldiers prepared to gamble for his clothes—Jesus made his first statement. Perhaps there was a moment of silence as the crowd watched him take a painful breath. Jesus said the last thing that was on anyone’s mind: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

There are many people Jesus could have had in mind when he prayed for “them” and asked his Father for forgiveness on their behalf, beginning with the soldiers below his feet, more intent on the value of his clothes than feeling any regret over the task they had just performed. Their callous ignorance was included in Jesus’ forgiveness. Then there were the jeering crowds, the conspirators who thought they had succeeded in eliminating the threat Jesus represented. They did not know what they did. As Paul put it later, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8, NIV).

Applied to its broadest possible audience, Jesus’ prayer includes us, whose sin required that he pay with his perfect life. The prayer is not precise in terms of time, so the forgiveness requested has no bounds. Forgiveness was provided long before we knew enough to accept it!

Getting Personal

How can someone fully experience Jesus’ forgiveness of his or her sins? What does that mean for you?

If forgiveness of others is such a crucial part of the life in Christ, why is it so difficult to do?

Who’s on your “I can’t forgive” list, and how might that change based on Jesus’ words and example?

The road to justifying our own lack of forgiveness is swift and easy. The realization that Jesus was willing to extend forgiveness demands that we reconsider why we may be so unwilling to forgive. How can we claim to have received forgiveness for ourselves if we won’t extend it to others?

Talking to God

Thank the Lord that he forgave even those who had no interest in being forgiven. Ask him to give you a deep awareness of how much you have received because of his grace, so that it will help you extend God’s grace to others.

From the Book: