Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 23 Feb 2019

     

Why did Jesus on the cross pray to God to excuse His offenders since they were ignorant?

Shri Anil asked: Why did Jesus on the cross pray to God to excuse His offenders since they were ignorant?

Swami replied: The prayer of Jesus on the cross tells us that we should have tolerance even towards our bitter enemies. This is a very important and basic concept in the context of Universal Spirituality. Often, some followers of another religion criticize our religion so bitterly that we are unable to control ourselves. So, we retort to them even more bitterly. This further enrages them and the quarrel becomes more and more bitter. Sometimes, it even ends up in physical violence. To avoid this, we should do the opposite. As our enemy becomes more and more bitter, we should become more and more cool and calm. With our minds calm and without any bitterness, we should respond to the basic points in the opponent’s arguments and criticism. Emotions are momentary and they subside in a very short time. If emotion is your answer, you will never be able to answer any question posed by your opponent. Tolerance and a calm mind are essential in any debate.

It is far better to have debates on spiritual knowledge in writing rather than orally. In oral debates, quick answers are expected. The debaters, in their haste, sometimes use improper words unintentionally. But these slips of the tongue can create an impression in the opponent’s mind that is very different from the speaker’s original intention. This can lead to misunderstandings between the debaters and the healthy debate can quickly degenerate into an ugly quarrel. In olden days, writing technology was not well-developed and it was very difficult to write a large amount of text and send it to another person. Publishing and mass printing, of course, were non-existent in those days. Hence, debates in the field of spiritual knowledge used to be oral, in which the improper presentation of one’s ideas often leads to misunderstandings.

But today, writing is very convenient. Not only can we easily write and print on paper but we also have the technology to write and instantly send the written material to another person using email and other electronic media. This is the preferred mode of engaging in a spiritual debate. One can take sufficient time to understand the opponent’s arguments. Then one can think and analyze thoroughly with a cool and balanced mind. Finally, one can carefully choose the proper words to express our ideas and intentions.

Jesus wanted to bring reformation in the hearts of those ignorant priests, who had conspired to have Jesus crucified. Hearing Jesus pray to the Lord for the forgiveness of His offenders, moved the hearts of at least a few of the priests. It gave them a chance to analyze what they had done. It was a door to reformation for those souls. The reformation of sinful souls was the main aim of Jesus. His approach of praying for the forgiveness of His own offenders is so effective that it can bring true reformation even in a hard-hearted person. Eternal punishment in the liquid fire may only develop the fear of committing sin in a soul. The fear may reduce the tendency of the soul to commit sins in the future birth of the soul. But the effect is only temporary. The reformation through fear is thus only partial and temporary. But the approach of Jesus was goodness and kindness. It was based on His extreme tolerance and peaceful nature. Such an approach is capable of bringing a permanent reformation even to a cruel heart. It is the most powerful way of bringing realization, repentance, and non-repetition of the sin in a soul. Realization, repentance and non-repetition are the three steps in the permanent reformation of a soul.

Preaching spiritual knowledge is the preliminary step. Practicing that knowledge and thereby becoming an ideal for the followers, is the final step. In a time when harshness and cruelty were at their climax, God used this path of kindness to reform souls. This path of kindness was like a stream of fresh water used for washing away dirt. But first, He burnt the harsh and hard impurities to ash, using the fire of spiritual knowledge. Then He washed the ash with a stream of the water of kindness. God is omniscient. He knows the best way of dealing with every specific situation in any given time.