Good Friday: The Problem of Ignorance

They do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

On the Friday when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, he looked around him to see those who were crucifying him. Jesus did not speak one word to defend himself, nor did he rebuke those who were about to kill him. Instead, Jesus raised his voice and prayed for those who were crucifying him.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Because the people did not know who Jesus was, they pierced the hands of the one who had fed them; they nailed the feet of the one who walked after them in mercy. Because of ignorance, they mocked the one who loved them with an undefinable love. It was that love that motivated Jesus to lay aside his majesty and allowed himself to be placed on that cross. It was that love that led Christ to pray for those who were killing him.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Looking at our own past experience, we can understand the consequences of our own ignorance. We were ignorant because we lived under the dominion of the enemy of our souls, because we served ourselves and became controlled by our evil actions and evil thoughts. When sin dominates the heart of an individual, that person lives in ignorance of the things that please God. Because of ignorance people today do not know God’s great love for them. They do not know that God has chosen them from the foundation of the world to become the objects of his love and his grace. This is the reason Christ prayed for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Because of ignorance, people do not know that Christ was nailed on that cross as their substitute, to free them from the power of the enemy of their souls. Because of ignorance they do not know and do not understand the depths of the love of Christ for them. In ignorance people sin against eternal love, against infinite compassion, against divine grace. This is the reason Christ continues to pray for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Even today people do not know that when they reject Christ, they cause him to suffer all over again. They do not know that when they reject Christ they are virtually crucifying him. In denying Christ, people do not worship him as Lord and Savior; they also deny his love by not yielding their lives to him. They do these things in ignorance. That is why Christ prays for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

When people reject him, they are, in every act of denial, taking the hammer and the nails and fastening Christ to that cross. That is the consequence of not knowing who Christ is. If they had known the true measure of Christ’s love for them, they would have not crucified the one who wants to be your Savior. People reject Christ because they do not know the wrong they are doing. Because people reject Christ, Christ prays for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

The source of this ignorance is that people do not know the extent of their own self- righteousness. People think that they are as good as they can be. They go to church regularly, they pray daily, and occasionally, they even read their Bible. What they do not know is that by their self-righteousness, they are perpetrating the highest insult upon Christ, for, if we were not sinners, why did Christ die for us? If our lives were good enough, why did Christ come into this world to give us a better life? By our rejection of Christ, we make his death on the cross meaningless for we consider ourselves to be good enough not to need Jesus to take our place on that cross. With our rejection we say that Calvary was not needed, that Christ is not wanted, and we rob him of his honor and glory as the Son of God. Out of love for them, Christ prays for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

My friend, look quietly inside your own heart and see whether there is not a spirit of rejection that darkens your mind and blinds your spirit. Then confess that ignorance is not a good excuse for rejecting the one who died on the cross for you. Ignorance does not make a person not guilty, for if ignorance made an action no longer sinful, then why would Jesus say: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing?

Because of ignorance, people refuse to come to Christ to receive forgiveness and life. They must come to the cross right now and accept the supreme sacrifice Christ made for them. They must come and confess their guilt, and look to him who bled upon that cross, and accept the one who prayed for them.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Claude F. Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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This entry was posted in Agnosticism, Christ, Crucifixion, Jesus Christ, Prayer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Good Friday: The Problem of Ignorance

  1. Gioantonnello says:

    Ignorance is one of the worst enemies of man.

    Thanks for everything he writes.
    God continue to bless you

    Like

  2. George Hanson says:

    Jesus was not crucified on Fri he was in the grave 3 days and nights and Resurrected on Sunday before sunrise

    Like

    • George,

      I agree with you, but since I have not written a post on this issue, I use the traditional date because most of the public may not know the facts for what you write.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

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