Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. Luke 23:34, NKJV.
A great multitude followed the Savior to Calvary, many mocking and deriding; but some were weeping and recounting His praise. Those whom He had healed of various infirmities, and those whom He had raised from the dead, declared His marvelous works with earnest voice, and demanded to know what Jesus had done that He should be treated as a malefactor....
Jesus made no murmur of complaint; His face remained pale and serene, but great drops of sweat stood upon His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death-dew from His face, nor words of sympathy and unchanging fidelity to stay His human heart. He was treading the winepress all alone; and of all the people there was none with Him. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, and He was enduring the most acute agony, Jesus prayed for His enemies—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
His mind was borne from His own suffering to the crime of His persecutors, and the terrible but just retribution that would be theirs. He pitied them in their ignorance and guilt. No curses were called down upon the soldiers who were handling Him so roughly, no vengeance was invoked upon the priests and rulers who were the cause of all His suffering, and were then gloating over the accomplishment of their purpose, but only a plea for their forgiveness—“for they know not what they do.”
Had they known that they were putting to exquisite torture One who had come to save the sinful race from eternal ruin, they would have been seized with horror and remorse. But their ignorance did not remove their guilt; for it was their privilege to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. They rejected all evidence, and not only sinned against Heaven in crucifying the King of Glory, but against the commonest feelings of humanity in putting to a torturous death an innocent man. Jesus was earning the right to become the Advocate for humanity in the Father’s presence. That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world, taking in every sinner who should live, until the end of time.—The Spirit of Prophecy 3:152-154.
This devotional is taken from Be Like Jesus by Ellen G. White.
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