Luke 23:33-35 – When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." (NIV)
Last week, our choir director asked me to write a word picture about the meaning of compassion. As I prayed about how to word this, my thoughts turned to the anguish that God must have experienced when Adam and Eve sinned and were compelled to leave the Garden of Eden. Then I thought about another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas, one of Christ's own disciples, betrayed Him for a mere pittance — thirty paltry pieces of silver. I wanted to ask, "How, God, how could You show compassion to those people, after such betrayals, and the horrible wrongs they did to You?"
Then I saw another scene in my mind's eye, a scene where three crosses stood on a hill called Mount Calvary. On the middle cross, Jesus, God's holy Son, paused, and tenderly looked down through the centuries to where I was standing, and whispered, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
"That's the answer," I whispered in awe.
Today, the true meaning of compassion is revealed to each of us in Jesus' words from the cross. The highest form of compassion is evident in God's forgiveness, forgiving not only Adam and Eve for turning their back on Him in the beautiful Garden of Eden, but forgiving us for our sin. Compassion is the forgiveness that is offered to each of us from the old rugged cross, when Jesus, God's Son, said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Prayer: O God, touch our lives today. Help us to understand Your compassion, and experience Your forgiveness. Amen.