As we celebrate the festival of Christ the King it is pertinent to reflect on Jesus words from the cross as if they are royal decrees.
Take for instance his words "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing."
These amazing words of forgiveness are a blessing to that group of Roman soldiers and officers who had got up that morning and found that they were on crucifixion duty. They were a bunch of men doing their job, true an unsavoury one, but certainly a part of their work during the period. The Romans crucified many in the name of the pax Romana (peace of Rome).
Yet Jesus the Prince of Peace, the king whom we celebrate in this day, shows the true meaning of peace as he reaches out in forgiveness to these men. It is a declaration of God's grace and mercy that transcends the not only religious, political and social barriers but their very violent act against his own person.
Jesus' forgiveness extended to those who were not even aware as went about their daily duty of what they were doing and who sat at the bottom of the cross hoping to pick up a bonus for the day as they drew lots for his clothes. Not a callous act of disregard but more than likely an agreed way of dispersing any worthwhile items taken from their victims.
If Jesus throne is the cross and these words come as a royal decree to these men who are not grovelling and wallowing in their guilt hoping for forgiveness then are these words not also an expression of God's love and mercy for the whole world. Reaching out across distance and time to touch our very lives Jesus words bless us as we go about our daily lives "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing."
We like to think we have a handle on sin and can respond to God faithfully yet our lives are not that clear cut and more ofte than we would probably like to admit as we go about our daily lives we are embroiled in acts and thoughts which turns us away from God. Yet as aware or ignorant as we might be Jesus words echo down through the ages to touch us with grace.
Maybe it was Paul's insight into this movement of God's loving forgiveness that inspired him to the Romans the "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners."
So as we consider our King Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, let us hear and celebrate his royal decree from the cross, forgiving those ignorant of their wrong doing and so drawing them into relationship with God.