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Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34
When a friend betrayed me, I knew I would need to forgive her, but I wasn’t sure that I could. Her words pierced deeply inside me, and I felt stunned with pain and anger. Although we talked about it and I told her I forgave her, for a long time whenever I’d see her I felt tinges of hurt, so I knew I still clung to some resentment. One day, however, God answered my prayers and gave me the ability to let go completely. I was finally free.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith, with our Savior extending forgiveness even when He was dying on the cross. Jesus loved those who had nailed Him there, uttering a prayer asking His Father to forgive them. He didn’t hang on to bitterness or anger, but showed grace and love to those who had wronged Him.
This is a fitting time to consider before the Lord any people we might need to forgive as we follow Jesus’s example in extending His love to those who hurt us. When we ask God through His Spirit to help us forgive, He will come to our aid—even if we take what we think is a long time to forgive. When we do, we are freed from the prison of unforgiveness.
Lord Jesus Christ, through Your grace and power as You dwell in me, help me to forgive, that Your love will set me free.
Even on the cross, Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.
In the first century, the common attire for a Jewish man included five pieces of clothing—shoes, turban, belt, loincloth, and outer tunic. After crucifying Jesus, the soldiers divided the Savior’s garments as their spoils for performing the task. After each took a portion of clothing, one remained—the tunic. This infers that even the loincloth was taken—and Jesus’s last shred of human dignity with it.
In a heartbreaking fulfillment of David’s messianic song, they stripped Jesus naked and then gambled for the tunic. In Psalm 22:17–18, where crucifixion was prophetically described some 600 years before it was invented, David said it would be so: “All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” The soldiers gambled for all they could get, unaware of the fact that mere feet away Christ was freely forgiving and giving all He had out of love for them.