"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." — Jesus
My sleepy little town in the Hunter Valley hinterland is a world away from the horrors of the Bataclan theatre. I do not assume to inform Parisians, or any French national, how they should feel or process the deep wounds now torn through the fabric of their identity. Terror has tinged our shores, but we have not been baptised in the blood of the innocent like so many others are experiencing around the world—yet. Our time may yet still come.
I believe in the wisdom of a measured voice. Adding our voices to the cacophony in the aftermath of terror is always risky business. Even now, I am hesitant about speaking into a reality I am so far removed from.
Yet I must. We must. We who owe our lives to the innocent one who experienced the brutal hand of murderers and warmongers as he willingly gave himself for our freedom—we who are baptised into Christ must speak up.
As the horror of all humanity bore down on the bright and morning star, as the eternal Father turned his face from the only begotten—terror reigned in darkness. Or so it seemed. But terror had not won the day. The slaughter of the Son of God was, in reality, the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
As Luke records the grisly details, we are allowed this tender and intimate glimpse into the divine plan of redemption. Even as the blood flowed, even as the tissue tore and fluid bubbled in his lungs, Jesus peers through bloodied and swollen eyes to gaze on men who cared so little about him that they gambled at his feet for a memento of their macabre work. We expect righteous anger. We expect justified wrath. We expect divine damnation. Instead, we see mercy. Instead, heaved through laboured breath, we hear grace.
Luke 23:34 ESV—And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Those that hammered the spikes and swung the whip, those who taunted from a safe distance or stood close enough thrust a spear, did so with intent. Yet even then, what they hoped to achieve was not the same as what they actually did. Culpable for their crime, Jesus still implored the Father, "Forgive them." Grace upon grace flows from the cross of Christ. The victim becomes the victor.
As it was then, so it is now. Those that pull the trigger or detonate the vest, those who scheme from afar or draw the blade and stand in the blood of their victims, do so with intent. Yet even then, what they hoped to achieve was not the same as what they actually did. Those who scheme and terrorise and kill, pit themselves not against a nation or a regime, but against the righteous Judge of the Ages. And as the gavel falls, bringing with it the just condemnation of a Holy God, we hear again grace calling from the Cross.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Grace abounds. Grace was poured out at the cross even for those who pierced Him who knew no sin. The same grace that knocked a religious extremist off his donkey on the road to Damascus is the same grace that rescues us from our rebellion against God. This same grace is offered to cowards who strike in the night or soldiers who kill in the day. Grace shows no partiality.
This is the gospel—powerful enough to save you and I—powerful enough to save the men and women who terrorise our nations.
Christian: Hear the call from the cross. Hear it and rejoice that grace included you. Hear it and pray that the terrorist hears it also.