Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Is there a person in your life who is difficult to get along with?

I know there is in my life. They have hurt me in so many ways that it affects my character. Sometimes, I wonder if they harm me on purpose or if it’s just second-nature for them. Jesus, hanging on the cross, looked down and saw soldiers — the ones who had beat and ridiculed Him and who ultimately nailed His hands to the beam. They were gambling to see who could get His only possession: His bloodied clothes.

In that moment, Jesus’ character — who He was — rose above unimaginable pain. Seeing beyond the rough exterior of foreign, dirty soldiers, Jesus peered deep into their souls. He saw their pain from the past. He also saw their pain in the future. It all hinged on His forgiveness.

Would He be able to forgive these men? Would He be able to take on the sin of not only these people but of all humankind? Would He take on my sin? Even in His weakened and vulnerable state, Jesus did not give into anger, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, or revenge.


“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” he pleaded, requesting forgiveness from His Father, who had the power to rain down fire on the soldiers. In that moment of human weakness, Jesus didn’t sin. He gave unselfishly of Himself and His rights to grant others something they didn’t deserve: forgiveness.

Do I still struggle to forgive? You bet I do! But just as Christ forgives those soldiers and me, I have the choice to look at the person who hurts me every time they wrong me and think, “Father, forgive them, for they really don’t know what they are doing.”

Pray and Respond
Who is the person or past situation that is difficult for you to forgive and what is something Jesus has forgiven you for? Pray that Jesus will give you the grace to forgive your difficult person, just as He has forgiven you.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Luke 23.

Have you ever poured out your heart before the Lord? “Downhearted, deep anguish, crying bitterly” are the emotions of the childless woman, Hannah, which opens the book of 1 Samuel. The writer declares, “God has closed her womb.” Elkanah, her loving husband, fails to understand her while his other wife mocks her.

Her emotions erupt during a pilgrimage to the house of the Lord. Can you feel the weight of her longing? It is palatable. Hannah’s faith is displayed as she takes her emptiness to God. Feeling overwhelmed, her lips move to pray, but her weary heart has no sound. She is assumed drunk. In raw honesty, Hannah sighs, “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” God hears. God remembers. God gives Hannah a son. (1 Samuel 1:15b)

In a worshipful response, Hannah again bares her soul before the Lord. This time her words are recorded. (1 Samuel 2:2-10) Her prayer’s focus is not on the gift of her son, Samuel,  but upon the goodness of the Giver Himself. Affirming God’s unchanging nature, Hannah proclaims God’s future promise of redemption, for his people.  

She exclaims that God opposes the proud and exalts the humble. (2:3-4) God is at work in the world despite chaos and evil. (2:9) God will send a king. (2:10) Through Samuel, God transitions Israel to a monarchy. This monarchy is a shadow of an eternal kingdom. God promises King David, whom Samuel anointed, an everlasting throne. Through David’s line, a king will come to rule and reign with all the goodness of God himself.

Centuries later, another mother responds in worshipful prayer, echoing the words of Hannah. (Luke 1:46-55) God visits humble Mary, giving her a son. Through this Son, all of God’s promises to Israel are completely and finally fulfilled. He is the long-awaited King from the line of David to rule forever. What Hannah knew in part is now known in full. 

May our hearts worship with hers as we pour out our own longings before the Lord.

*For deeper reflection, listen to 1 Samuel 1