Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
He didn’t say they didn’t do it. He acknowledged the deed and the perpetrators of it. He didn’t say they didn’t mean it – he acknowledged that they did exactly what they intended to do to. He didn’t say it didn’t hurt him – he acknowledged the pain and the price to himself. But he said they didn’t know. The same Greek word that is translated know in this verse is frequently translated see or perceive in the New Testament.
Do you know?
Can you see?
Do you perceive?
Jesus said we do not know. Lack of knowledge. Lack of perception. Lack of seeing.
We are blinded by our creatureliness, our human condition. We do not see as God sees because we are not God. We eat of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and think it is ours to name what is good and what is evil! Often we are so sure that our concept of good and evil is right that we attempt to force it on the rest of the world. We think we see clearly. We think we know. But Jesus said we do not know.
- We are blinded by our woundedness. Unhealed pain from all the hurts of our life to this present time filters what we see. We think we see clearly. We think we know. But Jesus said we do not know.
- We are blinded by our ignorance. Even when our knowledge is not filtered through our woundedness and even when our labels of right and wrong, good and evil, seem to be correct, our knowledge is incomplete. We think we see clearly. We think we know. But Jesus said we do not know.
When we act, we act out of our humanness, our woundedness, and our ignorance. Often our actions betray, and wound, and kill others. Jesus forgives us, because we do not know.
- We betray someone when we attribute to them a role or a type of power that is not really theirs. Many believe that this is what Judas did – that he tried to force Jesus’ hand, to make Jesus into someone he was not. We do that with our children and even our spouses. We continue to do that with God in many of our prayers. But Jesus forgives us, because we do not know what we do.
- We wound someone when we reject them, when we mock them with sarcasm, when we try to get them to shape up, even “for their own good.” But Jesus forgives us, because we do not know what we do.
- We kill someone when we do not see clearly who they really are. The people who paid homage to Christ on Palm Sunday saw a political messiah who would free them from Roman bondage. Their ignorance, their misperception, their misunderstanding, their lack of vision killed him. We kill when we fail to listen to another’s dreams and visions and God-given calling. We kill their spirit, the very life God has put in them, with our practical – but worldly – demands. But Jesus forgives us, because we do not know what we do.
He doesn’t say we didn’t do it.
He doesn’t say we didn’t mean it.
He doesn’t say it doesn’t hurt.
He says that we don’t know.
And he forgives.