Lenten Reader | Day 39

A Righteous Man

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, 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.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”

- Luke 23:32-34,44-47
Before noon, outside of Jerusalem, a large crowd gathered to witness a crucifixion. This was not an uncommon occurrence as it was customary for the Roman government to use this form of execution against its criminals. However, this day was different. There were three executions scheduled but only two criminals. The third man scheduled to be executed was Jesus, and He attracted a crowd wherever He went. The excited witnesses included curious bystanders, the accusers, the haters, the rebel rousers, the misfits of society…the Mark Litters. Oh, sorry. I let that slip. At one time in my life, I would have been a part of that crowd. All were standing in the midst of a great spiritual battle, allowing their emotions and thoughts to run rampant, fueling the frenzy of the moment.

It was almost noon, but before an unforgettable darkness fell, the criminals came face to face with Jesus. He has unique ways, like it or not, of getting our attention. Due to the circumstances of their lives, the criminals were condemned to death and headed into the darkness without Jesus. They knew who He was, but they didn't know Him. But He knew their hearts. What were they thinking? What questions did they have? Were they afraid? As the darkness fell, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

In April of 1980, in a dark time in my life, I, also, came face to face with Jesus, and He confronted me with a question: "Will you follow me the remainder of your life?" I thought that I was a good person, I knew who Jesus was, but I did not know Him. His forgiveness allowed me to experience His unconditional love and righteousness. And you know what? He still forgives today "those who do not know what they are doing."

Do you know what YOU are doing?

Do you KNOW Him?

- Mark Litter
Father, help me to know you. Really know you. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing, grant me your righteousness.