They Know Not What They Are Doing

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

There are two locations in Jerusalem where it is thought Jesus spoke these words.

The first site is within the large and ornate Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At the top of steep stone steps is the Altar of Calvary. Here pilgrims line up to kneel and touch the rock believed to be where the cross of Jesus stood.

Altar of Calvary-small

The second setting is near the Garden Tomb. From one corner of the Garden you can see a craggy rock face. In it are hollows resembling the eyes and nose sockets of a skull, although I found it hard to discern. This is thought to be Golgotha, which means the place of the skull, an alternative site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Place of the Skull - small

The cliff overlooks a busy bus station with vehicles arriving and leaving, puffing out grey smelly exhaust, and people going about their daily business.

If this is Golgotha, the place of Jesus’ death, then those around pay little regard.

So, it is not too difficult to imagine Jesus repeating these words today: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

The Son of God died with the weight of humanity’s sin on his sinless shoulders. Disregarded by most men and women, his only concern was the forgiveness of individuals.

Mark 2:10 tells us Jesus came to earth with authority, usually reserved for God his Father, to forgive sins.

Jesus came to do the work of God and to hand out pardon.

And the power of the Almighty God to forgive each of us dwells in Jesus Christ.

So what can we learn from Jesus about forgiveness?

Jesus taught the nature of forgiveness.

Jesus explained the mercy we receive from God is closely wrapped up with the leniency we extend to other people.

We are instructed to forgive other people because God has forgiven us.

Jesus also warned, in the parable of the unmerciful servant, if we don’t show clemency to other people, God cannot absolve our wrongdoing. That we must forgive other people if we want to be forgiven by God is a sobering thought.

Jesus modeled forgiveness.

On the cross, Jesus fulfilled his own command given in Matthew 5:44 to love your enemies.

And, as someone who was truly human, if Jesus wanted to remain sinless, then he needed to forgive too. It is no wonder the words forgive them were his dying prayer.

Jesus still intercedes for our forgiveness.

Scripture tells us Jesus is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Without Jesus’ death and resurrection we would not know what it is to receive God’s grace, to have our wrongdoing completely removed and no longer remembered by God, and to be able to start afresh when we have messed up yet again.

As Easter approaches and we remember what Jesus has done so we can be always forgiven, let’s use this time to extend forgiveness to others, especially those who have hurt us and do not realize what they have done.


Luke 23:26-43, Matthew 18:21-35

Get a fresh perspective on familiar verses by using to read several translations.


How did Jesus model the type of forgiveness he taught in the parable of the unmerciful servant?  Is that kind of forgiveness part of your lifestyle? Read When We Can’t Forgive for more thoughts on forgiving when it’s hard.


Is there someone that you need to extend forgiveness to today?  Maybe someone who does not even realize how they have hurt you?


I have two special resources available to you as we enter this Easter season.

coverFirst, if you have not already received my Life Lived Differently devotional e-book, you can get it today.  The 10-day devotion based on my recent trip to the Holy Land is the perfect way to prepare your heart for the resurrection celebration.  It also includes access to over 100 high-quality pictures and scripture graphics that you can share with your friends, use in your own blog posts or use in your other Easter-themed materials.  You can subscribe to my newsletter and download the ebook at the Life Lived Differently Resource Page.

We recently completed the Tough Love Prayer Challenge.  If Jesus had some difficult people he needed to forgive, we certainly do as well.  This 5-day challenge to learn how to pray for those difficult relationships in your life will soon be converted to an ebook.  Subscribers to my newsletter will receive it first and free!

tough love promo 3


Linking up with Suzie Eller at #liveFree, Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart and Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus


  1. Debbie @ Bible Fun For Kids

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