Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, 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.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:32 – 43)
Here we see that in his worst moment, Jesus is choosing to forgive those who are trying to put an end to him, permanently. I used to wonder, “How could Jesus forgive them? I could never do that.” Then it hit me. You see, Jesus may have been human, but he didn’t see things as we did. His eyes were different. Yes, they were like ours physically, but what he saw was different. When he looked at a man, he did not see the man as we see him, but he saw the man as God sees him, in all his goodness, he did not see situations as we do, he sees them as God does.
You see, we as humans want to see the bad in everyone. If we were in that situation, we would only see a man who is trying to kill us. If you’ve never seen the movie “The Last Castle” I recommend you watch it ASAP. In that movie we see Col. Winter talking to Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin (played by Robert Redford). Gen. Irwin has been sentenced to a military prison. He has been sentenced for disobeying a direct order from the President, which resulted in the death of 8 of his men. Winter treats the prisoner’s like animals, and after interfering with a punishment that was unlawful, Irwin is sentenced to solitary confinement. Winter comes to visit Irwin to explain the reason for the punishment. While they are talking, Col. Winter says “Whenever I’m filled with doubt, whenever sentiment creeps in, I just have to open an inmates file and see what he’s done. I see what he is capable of. I see the worst in him. And that makes my job easier. It crystallizes my mission.” We as humans tend to see things like Col. Winter, and it affects what we do. When someone wrongs us, what is the first thing we do? We say “you idiot, how could you do that, I’ll never forgive you for that.” Etc. Winter had that view, and as such, he suppressed the men. In a deleted scene (that I think they should have left in), Winter calls them “shadows of soldiers”. It was his degradation of the men that made them want to revolt against him. This was the view that the first man took, in verse 39 it says “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” This man was looking at life through his own eyes. He cursed Jesus, and then expected Jesus to save him? We look at our life through human eyes, which always wants to see things and people as bad.
Jesus sees things more as Gen. Irwin does in “The Last Castle. Gen. Irwin says, “I am under no illusion why the men are here Colonel, I just think they might be reminded about some of the good things they’ve done, rather than only the worst.” That was Irwin’s standpoint, he said, there is good in them. He told them that, and restored their faith in themselves, and told them that they could become something and you know what? The men followed him, and ended up overthrowing the Castle, and getting Winter removed. (sorry to those who haven’t seen it, I just spoiled it…) This is a prime example of how Jesus sees us. Jesus comes into the prison with us, and reminds us of who we really are. That is the reason Jesus looks at us and sees the good in us, so he can forgive us. So we must also learn to see people through his eyes. This was how the second man there on the cross viewed life, he said, “Jesus can do something, but He is here for a reason, so may His life and mine be a testament to the love of Christ” and then he asked Jesus to remember him in heaven, and Jesus did. The second guy knew why he was there, and saw life through God’s eyes.
There was a young man named Ivan “Vanya” Moseyev. He was 18 years old, and a private in the Soviet Union Red army. He kept getting in trouble for proclaiming Jesus. As part of his “re-education”, he was required to stand outside in –13 degree weather in summer uniform, until he was ready to submit and admit God didn’t exist. He stood out there all night, because he refused to deny God. At 10 AM the next morning, he was allowed to return to his barracks, but he did it for two more nights, and he never denied God. He was later killed for his faith in Christ. Through out all his torture, he never cursed or hated his torturers, or denied God. I got to thinking that it was amazing that he didn’t hate his torturers. But he has this great idea that “Angels are transparent. If an angel stands before you with a man behind him, the presence of the angel does not keep you from seeing the man. On the contrary: Looking at a man through an angel makes him more beautiful. I see my torturers through an angel. In that way, even they become lovable.” See, he was being tortured, and an angel came to him, and allowed him to see people through God’s eyes, and through God’s eyes, he loved and blessed his torturers.
Another great example of this is in the movie The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins have been having lots of problems trying to get the ring to Mordor, and at one point, Frodo wants to give up, listen to that exchange between them:
“I can’t do this Sam.”
“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”
“What are we holding on to Sam?”
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for”
Look at the difference in view of things. Frodo, having to bear this heavy burden, is about to give up, but Sam steps in and says “wait, you are looking at this wrong”. He, in essence, reminds Frodo to look at this through God’s eyes, to see the good, and fight for it.
And God rewards us when we try to see life through his eyes. Look at the second criminal, he saw through God’s eyes, and when he did, he saw that he was wrong, and he was sorry, and he was honored and that day went to heaven. Irwin ended up winning and overthrowing Winter (though at the cost of his own life). Frodo managed to make it all the way to Mordor and destroy the ring, but only because of the help of Sam.
So what I want for you to do is to think for a minute, how do you tend to view life? Do you see life through your own eyes, where things are always bad? Or do you see things through God’s eyes, where things are good, and you can forgive? I want you to reflect on how you see life, because you see, each person has a view, and my question to you is: what’s yours?