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Text Illustrations
The word ‘forgive’ in this passage is in the imperfect tense. We tend to think it is in the present tense and that Jesus prayed this prayer once and then moved on. The imperfect tense in Greek means that the prayer is not said once but continuously, through the scourging and the crucifixion as he approached death. When Jesus was falsely accused by Pilate, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” When they beat him, taunted him and stripped him, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” When they drug him into the courtyard and whipped him with a cat of nine tails ripping the flesh from his back, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” When they put the cross on his back and made him carry it walking on cobblestone streets in bare feet to his death, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” When they nailed him to the cross and hung him high, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” When they were taunting and jeering at him, he was praying, “Father, forgive them…” And for 20 centuries, echoing across the centuries, we hear the words of Jesus as he continues to pray, “Father, forgive them…”

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