Here are four of the most often overlooked messages from Jesus.
Forgive Them Father
When Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), most of us would think, “Yes, they did. They knew what they did was wrong,” but, remember what the Apostle Paul wrote of the Jews that “their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (2nd Cor 3:14). Paul knew that “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Cor 4:4). Truly, they didn’t realize they were murdering the Son of God, and their Messiah.
Pray for your Enemies
We are told by Jesus to pray for our enemies, but how many of us actually do this? How many of us really do good to those who do bad to us (Luke 6:33) and love those who persecute us and pray for those who hate us (Matt 5:44)? Probably not very many of us, because this isn’t easy. In fact, it takes the Spirit of God to even want to pray for our enemies and do good to them who despitefully use and abuse us. Jesus brought a new teaching and it was so revolutionary that Jesus even prayed for the Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). What greater model of praying for enemies is there?
Loving Your Enemies
Christianity is the only religion in the world where we don’t try to get rid of our enemies but we love our enemies. Jesus taught us “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44) because “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same” (Matt 5:46) and “if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same” (Matt 5:47)? If we don’t love our enemies and pray for our persecutors, we are no different than the gentiles (or unsaved).
Most people who don’t share the gospel apparently don’t take Jesus’ imperative command very seriously. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20), but few seem to go. What we often miss is Jesus telling them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). Of course, Jesus has all authority. We already know that, but when Jesus tells them to “Go,” it means they have His authority to go into all the world. So do you.
Jesus calls us to a higher standard. One in which we forgive others, where we pray for our enemies, where we love our enemies, and understand that Jesus has given us all authority to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth and to the end of the age. We should remember that “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10).