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Father Forgive Them

 

 

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Apostle Peter

Apostle Peter | Matthew 14:28-31

 

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

We'll return to this verse at the end. Before Easter I would like to speak about forgiveness. Even in the Old Testament we can see that forgiveness is the result of repentance. Let's see a few texts:

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Zechariah 1:2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
1:4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.
1:5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?

There are many similar texts, God promises pardon to those who repent and turn back to Him. In the New Testament, God promises the same:

Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

In this last text Jesus is clear, there is no pardon without repentance. Also:

Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

However, if the condition is fulfilled, pardon is granted:

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
15:9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Jesus even pardoned Peter after the last denied Him three times:

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

What happens if there is no repentance?

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

The texts are clear. The unrepentant sinner distances himself from the Body of the Church and we must keet distance from him. It is not for us to judge him - and thus we cannot pardon - only God can judge such a sinner. And the result is obviously condemnation.

In the future the situation would be different:

Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Until then we'll wait patiently and faithfully.

Now, the verse we began with looks very different:

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Jesus says God will judge the sinners that crucified Him. Jesus had all the authority for pardoning - he did that all the time - yet here he does not. Why? They did not repent. They told jokes on Him. They kept harming His body until He died. They did not fulfill the condition for being pardoned.

I want to return to what we have seen in Gaza. I read the Hebrew transcript of the assassin-soldiers talks in Beit Oranim. They tell about the assassination of innocents. Snipers assassinating from far away old women, mothers and children. The soldiers are not repentant, they tell jokes and make funny commentaries, and do that openly to the Israeli media.

Doing so, they have grown apart from God, if they ever were close to Him.

Father, forgive them, because we cannot do so.

 

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