Forgive them, for they know not what they do!


What do you really know? I am not talking facts and figures, I’m talking about self-awareness. When do you question your motives, your actions, your thoughts? Why do you move through life in the way you do? What causes you to be so strong, skeptical, brash, trusting, hard, caring, funny or despondent? How are you led by the expectations and standards of others? Who are the others; parents, friends, bullies, social media influencers, teachers, bosses, colleagues, people you don’t even know?


I struggled for a long time with the Bible verse Luke 23:34 - Jesus said “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” - My mind could not conceptualize how people who were so downright intentional about their decision to participate in His crucifixion could “know not what they do”. Weren’t they given a choice Barabbas or Jesus? Didn’t they clearly chant His name, and didn’t they line the streets, hurl insults, watch Him struggle and not lift a hand to help, or choose to remain silent when they could have come to His defense? Why would Jesus pray forgiveness for them and plead their ignorance? Love and compassion, of course, but if we spend some time with the reason he provides we can unpack great insight about the human condition.


Cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf studies mind-brain connection. Some of the things she talks about are cognitive dissonance, the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind and the habits of thinking we form in order to move through the world. Without getting into the science of it, the lay-person can observe, within themselves and others, habits of mind where habits win over intentions. Examples abound, like making resolutions and not sticking with them, making a promise/commitment and not following through, setting goals then self-sabotaging the process to get there. What does this have to do with Luke 23:34?


Jesus knew that the people who contributed to ensuring he was nailed to the cross did so from the unconscious/habit part of their mind, the part programmed to the Jewish worldview of maintaining the ancestral laws & ways and opposing any other leadership authority than God, diligently handed down over generations. Their unconscious focus on these things caused them to miss the fact that He is the Messiah. Surely if they were able to put down the program and see who He is then they would not have done what they did, hence Jesus'

compassion for them in their spiritual blindness/ignorance.


Every person who lives is faced with some form of “blindness” due to their programs, or unconscious habits of thinking, that have been accepted and allowed to take root in the mind. In some cases “blindness” is total, in others the program may just be a filter that we view life through. Our worldview programs can skew our vision, dim reality, deny truths, twist perspectives, and offer us only what our mind knows vs. what is.


So I ask again, what do you really know? Food for thought?

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© 2018 Melanie Escalante - Vision and Strategy Coach

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