“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” — Luke 23:34
This weekend, we remember “Freedom Summer.” This year is the fiftieth anniversary of a very dark and wicked event in the history of my state. Three young men were murdered because of hatred and hostility for the cause they supported. This event has been a curse on the reputation of our state ever since.
The question to ask is, “How long should we keep rehearsing this event?” Other similar situations show dynamics of memorials. This year, “D-Day” was highlighted because it has been 70 years since so many died in World War II. Jews are constantly reminded of the “Holocaust” that occurred in Nazi Germany. “9/11” and “Pearl Harbor” seem forever marked on the calendar.
Another question to ask is, “How do we heal from the hurt?” “When do we allow the Germans and Japanese to cease being foes after World War II?” “When can we realize the perpetrators of the “Holocaust” are gone?” “When will our memories of New York City not go so quickly to the burning Trade Center?”
The key seems to be to know when to forgive, and when to stand on issues. For clarity, I look toward the discernment of Jesus. Jesus was brutally beaten and cruelly crucified for something others did. Jesus was falsely accused of issues that should not demand death, but was killed anyway to please the crowd. His death was not just at the hands of Pilate and religious leaders. Jesus died for the sins of all of us. His death was unjustified, cruel and heartless.
Jesus faced this evil day without saying a word in defense. Why? The reason is He was taking a stand. He stood for our vindication from sin. He put Himself in our place and voluntarily paid the price. There are times when we should imitate our Lord by placing ourselves in the place of others and pay the price that they might know release.
However, Jesus spoke on the cross some very dynamic words; “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” In these dramatic words, Jesus wishes to see the atrocities He faced forgiven. Instead of hard feelings and anger, Jesus wished to release his oppressors of the pain they caused Him.
I celebrate Jesus’ courage to stand for me. Also, I celebrate Jesus’ power to forgive. I needed both from Him. I appreciate Jesus dying for my sins. Only then can I be free from my failures. But, I also appreciate Jesus’ forgiving. I am glad He holds no grudge because I caused His pain. While standing on issues is important, forgiveness is priceless.
Maybe it’s time for all to meet at the foot of the cross and stand for love and grace. This world has seen too much hate and anger. It’s time love is the issue.
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.