"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
Have you ever wondered why, with His dying breaths, Jesus' last words were imploring His Heavenly Father to forgive the very ones who crucified Him?
He was right: they did not know what they were doing. They didn't realize that they were killing God Himself, for Jesus had said: "I and My Father are one". (John 10:30)
They did not understand that they were fulfilling ancient Biblical prophecies concerning the death of the Messiah. They did not know that they were actually doing the perfect and sovereign will of the Almighty God, to accomplish His perfect salvation plan, set in place before the creation of the world.
Why was Jesus so forgiving of His tormentors and murderers? His total trust in the Father meant that He knew that God meant it for good, so that all mankind might be reconciled to Him. Just look at the word "Sovereign". It contains the word "reign". Gods reigns.... over all the earth, all the heavens, and everything in them.
Next time someone has hurt you badly, and you don't want to forgive: realize what Jesus knew that day at Calvary: nothing happens to God's children that is not part of His Sovereign plan.
I've said it before, God doesn't have a "Plan B" that He implements when something unforseen happens to His children. No, He is omniscient and omnipotent, and anything that touches us in any way has been allowed to happen for some purpose. We may not know or understand, but believe this: God does! No matter how badly something or someone hurts us in this life, God has promised:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer 29:11)
Why does God allow these things that hurts us so? His Word tell us in the next two verses:
"Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Next time you feels so desperately hurt by life, or circumstances in your life are unbearable, seek the Lord with all your heart. Isn't that ususally when we finally cry out to Him, anyway? We muddle along in our human frailties and weaknesses, trying to handle everything ourselves, until we are hurt so badly we don't know which way to turn. THEN we finally do what we should have done right at the start: seek God with all our heart. Pray unto Him, call out to Him, tell Him our pains, our sorrows, our trials and disillusions and disppointments. He'll hear us. He promised!
Jesus could have gotten out of it. There would have been no hope for mankind if He had, but He did not have to be crucified. It was His choice. He said He had the power to lay down His own life, as well as the power to take it up again. (John 10:17-18) And at any time during the proceedings, He could have called legions of angels to come minister to Him. (Matt. 26:53)
Yes, He could have gotten out of it, but He chose obedience, even unto a cruel, vicous, undeserved death on the cross. Why? Because He knew that the Sovereign God would bring good out of it. It was the only possible way for lost, sinful man to be saved.
Jesus wasn't the only one who was ever treated wrongly. All through the Bible, people did things to God's children that were just plain wrong, meaning it for harm. But God promises us that what others mean to harm us, He will somehow turn it around and make it work for our good (and His glory!)
Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He rose to a position of prominence by God's grace, only to then be falsely accused of rape by his boss's wife. But God had a purpose for it all.
Moses had to be given up by his mother, placed in a basket in the river, because the Pharoah of Egypt had ordered all Hebrew boys to be killed by the midwives at birth. He was found by the Pharoah's own daughter, and ended up growing to adulthood in the house of the very Pharoah who had ordered him to be killed. How's that for a twisted plot, rivaling any soap opera? Yet through it all, God had a purpose. And even the wicked Pharoah was accomplishing God's purpose.
Rom. 8:28 is one of God's promises to His children:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
You may be thinking, "yeah, right." Some of you may have suffered such unbearable loss, such incredible pain, that you can't even comprehend how a loving Father could have ever allowed this thing to happen, much less how anything good could possibly come out of it. But I promise you, on the authority of His Holy Word, that God has a purpose even in the midst of our unbearable tragedies. We may not ever understand until we reach glory, but I assure you, He has a purpose for everything that touches our lives, and He will work it out to our good and His glory, when we truly seek Him.
The problem is, as always, in our own inadequate thinking, our own poor understanding of God's will. You see, when we think of His will, we usually think of one of His laws that we should obey. But there is God's expressed will, and then there is His Sovereign will. The second one is the concept we sometimes have trouble grasping.
God's expressed will is which is found in the Holy Bible, which is His word to us. It is given to us for our own good, in order that we may have the best possible life for those few short years we are on this earth. His Word instructs us how we are to respond to Him, how we are to treat others, how to live in a manner pleasing to Him, and how to have eternal life.
For example, the Bible tells us that God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) But, God allows us to make that choice.
We have the option of accepting all of these things that He expresses, that He desires for us, or to rejecting them, and living our own way, on our own terms. That is the cause of all sin and lawlessness: rejection of God's expressed will, in favor of doing whatever we choose.
Yes, we can (and often do) reject God's expressed will. God's Sovereign will is a different story, however. That cannot be transgressed by any one, for any purpose, in any way. It WILL BE DONE, just exactly as He intends. And as He is Sovereign, He is not required to always inform us of His intent or His reasons.
We must realize, as Jesus did, that any tragedy, any trial, any devastating event in our lives is only allowed to be there by the Sovereign will of a Sovereign God. We may not understand it, we may not like it; it may even be grievous or painful to us, but we need to learn to trust in our loving Heavenly Father, even in our pain and suffering. We need to know in our heart of hearts that God is SOVEREIGN, and He reigns over every event that touches our lives. We need to be able to say, as Jesus did;
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
And then sit back, and watch God be glorified!