Luke 23:34 ESV
“And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
When I was about 8 or 9 years old my best friend at the time was a little girl that lived a few houses down from us. I’m not sure why we clicked but I remember it was a great friendship. One of her favorite things to do was to play with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls. As you can imagine, that wasn’t my favorite thing to do but I adored my friend so I found a way to enjoy that time with her. She loved the dolls, I loved the way the dolls smelled. Strawberry Shortcake smelled of strawberries; Blueberry Muffin smelled of glorious blueberries; but there was one doll she had that was dirty and tattered and I just couldn’t convince myself to love or even like the smell. Poor Huckleberry Pie was ready for the trash heap.
One day I asked her, “This one is so dirty. Her dress is messy & torn and she smells awful. Why don’t you throw her away?” Her answer didn’t mean much to me at the time but absolutely blows my mind today. She said, “Huck is my favorite doll of them all. I love her the most!” “Why?” I exclaimed!
“Because she’s so worn out and her clothes look terrible...and she doesn’t smell great, but I love her the most because in her shape I don’t think anyone else would!”
In the ugliness of the cross, we find little to love about the people who killed the Savior. Yet, in the final prayer from the lips of our Lord (Luke 23:34-38), He asked God to forgive those who were squeezing the very life out of Him. Such love from our Christ is staggering.
It is easy to love those we like and those who are warm toward us. However, the real test of our Christ-likeness is if we can truly love and pray for our enemies. Jesus taught that we must learn this lesson: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). In their ugliness to us, our enemies often make themselves so obnoxious that no one else can possibly love them. May we, like my friend with her doll, say, "I love them the most because if I didn't, no one else would." Such love can be learned as we spend more and more time with our Lord. He taught us and then showed us how to love and pray.
It's hard to love the unlovable. When we face what may become of them if we don't, suddenly the challenge is more palpable.