Jesus was led along with two criminals to be crucified. When they came to the Place of the Skull, as it was called, they crucified him there and the criminals as well, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:32-34
From the description that St. Luke gives us, it seems the Jewish leaders did know what they were doing when they had the Romans crucify Jesus with the two criminals, yet his first word from the Cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
If they did not know what they did on Good Friday, then equally they did not know what they did on Palm Sunday when they welcomed Jesus as King with shouts of, “Hosanna!” as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. It was the same Jesus on Sunday and on Friday, and it was the same crowd, but there was a different response to Him.
One person knew what was really going on the whole time: Jesus. He knew why he had come down to earth as one of us, and he knew what his mission was when the crowd cheered him on Sunday, and he knew what it was when the same crowd jeered him on Friday.
There is no wisdom in crowds; there is only wisdom in the seat of Wisdom. It is only by establishing ourselves in the seat of God’s wisdom that we have any hope of knowing what is really going on. It is only by hanging on to the Cross that we protect ourselves from being lifted up momentarily by the crowd’s reaction only to be dashed down when the same crowd rushes away after some new delight or distraction.
Through the wisdom of the Cross, God gives us eyes to see through the surface reality of our choices to the deeper reality. Where the crowd might think we act foolishly, the wisdom of the Cross shows us we are acting wisely. For the Cross is foolishness to the world. By drawing strength from the wood of the Cross, we will not be weakened by the weakness of others but will manifest the strength of a disciple of Christ.
Through the power of the Cross, God gives us eyes to see his power still operating in a world that has largely turned its back on him as it did on Good Friday at Golgatha. The world rejected Jesus on Good Friday, and many of his followers did, too. The world today rejects Jesus, but his disciples follow him in his power nonetheless. We see him on the Cross, broken and yet unbroken. Even on the Cross, dying as victim, offering sacrifice as priest, Jesus retains all his power. And he uses his power to forgive those who in the vanity of worldly power seek to rid themselves of this troublemaker.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.