Good Friday Holy Week: Meditation 6

Detail from painting by macha Chmakoff - Father forgive them

Do we expect Jesus’ prayers to be answered?

Do you think that if Jesus prayed for you His prayer would be answered?

Wouldn’t you like Jesus to pray for you?

I mean, if he offered wouldn’t you? This extraordinary person.

Here on the cross in his agony Jesus prays

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Still it’s Father.

Even in the agony.

The crucifying pain.

I find it difficult to call God Father when I go through a bad time.

But here Jesus calls him Father. In his excruciating agony.

CHMAKOFF, Macha Father forgive them for they know not what they do

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing

In this vicious, agonising torture that the Roman Empire had devised to create a lingering death for anyone who dared to stand up to them.

And still.



“Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Surely the High Priest knew what he was doing when he said

You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed. (Jn 11:49-50, NRSV)

Surely Pilate knew what he was doing. He hated the Jews and anything to wind them up was ok by him. Toying with Jesus and the Jewish leaders in a kangaroo court.

Or the soldiers. Trained to kill. They knew what they were doing. They knew how to do their job – efficiently and painfully and brutally.

And the disciples. They knew what they were doing running away and leaving Him. They may have been frightened but they knew what they were doing.

So too for us.

We know what we do.

We have brought into a worldview where we are prepared to sacrifice others for “the greater good”.

We have brought into a world where violence and injustice is accepted as the way the world is.

On the cross Jesus lets individual decisions as well as institutional decisions crush him. Torture him. Kill him. Silence him.

That’s why Rembrandt paints himself as one of those crucifying Jesus. He understood that he plays a part in it.

And Jesus asks for forgiveness – for all of us. For our participation in that. All of us. Christian and non-Christian alike.

Does the Father answer that prayer?

Is that why it’s called Good Friday?

Holy Week: Meditation 1

Holy Week: Meditation 2

Holy Week: Meditation 3

Holy Week: Meditation 4

Holy Week: Meditation 5

Holy Week Holy Saturday: Meditation 7

Holy Week 2012 Meditation series


3 comments on “Good Friday Holy Week: Meditation 6

  1. Geoff C
    April 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    It is worth noticing how Jesus prayed. Unselfishly.
    …let this cup pass away …if possible….yet not my will but yours…. to kind of paraphrase it.
    (Keeping my own personal opinions out of it) – who better to pray for you than Jesus himself (surely?) Yet even when he prayed, he had to accept the outcome, even if it wasn’t what he ideally wanted. He accepted the outcome, though awfull and painfull and went with it, trusting God’s final judgement on the subject to be the best way.

  2. Janet
    April 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Will – your series of meditations has certainly given me a lot of reliigious food for thought and understanding. Thank you.

    • Will Cookson
      April 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

      Thank you for the kind words. I have enjoyed doing the series. The problem is always what to leave out!

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