Born in a manger, lived a sin-free life, demonstrated an astonishing amount of wisdom and knowledge of the Torah at a very young age, turned water into wine, drove out evil spirits, enabled the blind to see, raised the dead, miraculously filled nets with fish, healed the sick, walked on water, calmed a storm, fed thousands with a minuscule amount of food, taught the truth out of love, forgave sin, and loved people ridiculously.
In turn, he was betrayed, hated, put on trial, lied about, found innocent but still sentenced to death, tortured, mocked, spit upon, and nailed to a cross to die a slow, agonizing death. His response?
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a)
His name was Jesus and he stated those words while hanging on that cross. I know I take this statement far too lightly at times. He asked for forgiveness for those who persecuted him, just like he taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44. He could have chosen to elude or flee from his captors (remember all of the miracles), but he knew the plan and he was all in; and he is still all in for you and me, for all of us.
That’s the man we are celebrating this Christmas season. Let’s not take it lightly. Our sin put him on that cross, but we get the best Christmas present ever should we choose to accept Him; complete redemption and forgiveness, and faultlessness before the throne of God Almighty.
The crucifixion documented in Luke 23 (hint: the underline suggests a hyperlink, and suggests that the author of this blog post would love for you to read this brief account) concludes with a brief story of the two criminals who were also nailed to crosses next to Jesus. One of the men said “save yourself and us” with a seemingly unrepentant heart. The other confessed his sin and admitted that he deserved to be up there dying as well as acknowledged the innocence and authority of Jesus. I love this short story as a model for us today. We’ve all sinned, so we’re all criminals in God’s eyes until we’re forgiven. We can either try and hang on to this broken world and deny him (like the first one wanting earthly rescue), or confess and put our trust in Jesus, and have the hope and promise of eternal life with him in paradise forever. Believe and live.