Day 1, March 6—Ash Wednesday

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NLT)

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” (Matthew 5:38–41 NLT)

There is no better lived-out example of this passage from the Sermon on the Mount than when Jesus called out while He was on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” After being betrayed, unjustly arrested and tried, beaten, mocked, and spit upon by those He was giving up His life for, Jesus still prays for forgiveness on their behalf. It would have been easy to respond to their rancor in kind, or even to simply ignore their actions completely and focus on the end result, the salvation of the world. Instead, Jesus was still attentive to the individuals. He was not angry or upset at those responsible for the injustice being perpetrated against Him. The excruciating pain He was enduring did not divert Him from being concerned about their souls.

In contrast, how often are we so focused on our own pain, our own busyness, our own needs, or the wrongs being done against us that we don’t see how God desires to use us to be a blessing to someone else? If we are to truly become more like Christ, we need to learn how to forgive others just as readily and completely as He does, to live with our eyes open to the world around us, and to not let our own circumstances blind us to the people who are need of God’s love in their life—which is to say, all of humanity.