For They Know Not What They Do

Luke 23:33-34 KJV
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Emphasis is mine)

Sometimes it grieves me when I see how some Christians treat other Christians. And try as I might, to not misjudge, or not be hypocritical or self righteous, I am pretty sure that at one time or another, I can and do fall into that category myself. Actually, in truth, that happens more times that I want to acknowledge. I’m making some progress but darn it is slow.

When Jesus was talking to the scribes and Pharisees, He said in Matthew 23:23 NASB “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

The “weightier provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness . . .”  Notice that Jesus says that adhering to all of God’s truths are important and valid but not all truths are equal in how other truths are applied. Justice, mercy and faithfulness are weightier, because within them, other truths are aligned. Justice would be God’s view of justice, that would include not just ourselves but also others, mercy would be a willingness to display and give mercy to others, like we ourselves have been given mercy and faithfulness would be being true to God’s will, within the confines of His thoughts and ways, especially when it clashes with our own.

All of us like to be heard and Christians who blog about the many different facets of Christianity, which obviously includes our own perspective of God’s truth, easily fit into that category. None of us like to be challenged about what we believe or how we deal with others, especially those that we sometimes or frequently hold in distain. And the truth of the matter is, at least from the perspective that I have personally formulated from studying God’s Word over the years, is that the older that I get, the more that I see how all of us have a tendency to overlook the weightier truths of God, when it comes to applying all of God’s truths to others.

In Matthew 11:29 NASB, Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Emphasis again is mine)

We all know that it is relatively easy to find Scriptures that will back up our own perspective of what we think we are to do and not do. Being familiar with all of God’s Word is obviously very important but putting it all together and applying it, in accordance with all of God’s thoughts and ways, is not always that easy. And Jesus deals with that in Matthew 11:29. He says “take My yoke upon you and learn from me“. He tells us that He is “gentle and humble at heart” and if we follow His example, we will find rest for our souls. And if ever Christians needed rest for our collective souls, it is now.

So what does that actually mean? This is what I think it means and you are welcome to correct me if you think I am wrong. To me, it means really looking at everything that Jesus did and said and also noting what Jesus didn’t say and do. The fact that Jesus tells us that He is gentle and humble at heart is definitely a good starting place. I’m thinking that Jesus is telling us that normally, this is how we are to be. Are there exceptions, yes there are, like when Jesus cleared the Temple would be a good example or when Jesus noted that the Pharisees as a collective group, were basically liars. But as I have pointed out previously, in other posts, Jesus also took the time to speak to individual Pharisees about spiritual realities and even dine with them in their home. You can’t ignore that. That reality does have to be factored in with all of what Jesus said and did in His dealings with those who were opposed to Him. Then we also have the Samaritans and how Jesus interacted with them and actually used their wayward situation to teach us lessons about tolerance. You can’t ignore that either. It is part of the package of who Jesus is and if we earnestly want to follow Jesus and learn from Him, like He told us to, we do have to take what He showed us and make it a part of how we interact with others. 

What often happens is that we take the Scripture verses that fit in with our perception of how we think we are to interact with others and ignore those Scripture verses and examples that Jesus personally gave us, that don’t fit in with the picture we have formulated within our minds and hearts. We have all done this. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t. The thing is, it is very easy to do. The difficult part, the narrow road part, is weighing all that we do or say, especially with others that we encounter, which includes those whom we agree with and those whom we sometimes disagree with, and putting it side by side with what Jesus said and did, which also includes, what He did not say or do. 

And then, when our vision begins to clear, we begin to comprehend that all of us, each and every one of us, have instances when we do what we do not understand or know. And what did Jesus give us as an example of how we are to deal with that? “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Did the Roman authorities ask Jesus for His forgiveness? If they did would you point it out to me because I don’t see that recorded in my Bible. But what did Jesus do? He asked God His Father to forgive them because He knew that they did not understand or comprehend what in fact they were actually doing. Tell me if that doesn’t blow your mind.

Are there times when I blow it with regard to how I interact with other Christians? Yes, that would be me. Are there times when others blow it with how they interact with others and me? Yes, that also happens. But when I look to Jesus and I consider what He showed us all and I consider how often I miss the mark that He gave us, my options become rather limited. If I want justice, I must be just to all, if I want mercy, I must be merciful to all and if I want to be viewed as faithful to Jesus, then I must be faithful to the example that He gave us. These are not optional choices.

And the scary part is, I’m 75 and only now, within the last few years, just beginning to see this. And what is equally scary is that there are many self righteous Christians who think that they have the inside track on pleasing God with their justified rejection of all who pursue evil within this world. The evil is without question wrong, and it comes with many different labels, but the individual who harbours that evil needs to be saved, just like you and I needed to be saved and if we forget that, if we forget the general normalcy of Jesus being gentle and humble at heart, in His interactions with others, including the individual interactions with the Pharisees and the Samaritans, we also have laid aside the weightier matters of God’s truth, justice, mercy and faithfulness. 

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!


    • Blessings to you too Michael. You will note that I reposted your post from late November last year again yesterday. I was doing some research on “Christian Nationalism” yesterday for a few hours and at the end of my research I pretty well became overwhelmed at what I was seeing. And then, through God’s grace, your article came to mind. It answered every aspect of what I saw that was in contrast to God’s truth and it just fit like a glove. Just wanted to thank you for your faithfulness and witness, it was exactly what myself and others needed to hear. Blessings brother.

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  1. Amen, Bruce. When in doubt, kindness and humility should be the default. Sometimes when we think “What would Jesus do?” we remember how He confronted the authorities and their hypocrisy. But I have to remind myself, He was God and knew their hearts – I don’t. (There’s one other place “WWJD?” doesn’t necessarily apply to what I should do, and that’s the fact that Jesus never repented, because He didn’t have to. I DO. Every day.)

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  2. Bruce, this is a beautiful, beautiful picture! I’m a pretty humble person, I try to be kind to people; however, meek/gentle won’t be in the top 50 or so attributes people would say I display/manifest. This week’s beatitude that I am working on is mercy and I need to grow in being quicker to extend grace and mercy. Thanks for this post!

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    • Who we think we are and who we really are, are not always one and the same. You begin to truly see this when you truly look at Jesus and the contrast can be a tad on the scary side, I know it is for me. But it is all part of the learning process and it is good because we start to see Jesus as He is and not as we like to think He is and there is a difference. What we ignore or have a tendency to not focus on about Jesus actually says a lot about us. The more I learn to see Jesus as He is, the more I marvel. And of course, the beatitudes are zingers. We all need to learn from Jesus, Mandy, it’s just that far too often, we fail to truly see that reality and value of worth that it brings. And when we do, it has to change who we are. It struck me today that Jesus did not have to stay on that cross, but He did. If that doesn’t grab us, I don’t know what will. Blessings Mandy. Jesus has your heart, everything else will follow. Love in Christ – Bruce

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