But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I am often grieved as I observe ungodly acts and deeds come from good intentions. That definitely includes my actions as well as others’! When we act in fear or give responsibility for our acts to others, we often commit ungodly acts with the rationale that we are acting “for godly reasons in God’s behalf.” When I think of things I did in “godly concern,” I shake my head in disbelief and thank God for His mercy. I also conclude we can justify almost anything we do!

Godly people justified killing God’s own son! When Jesus raised Lazarus, people who were “concerned for the nation of Israel” were deeply concerned!

But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done. Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” (John 11:46-50)

Israel’s religious leaders were concerned about the nation’s future. Pilate was concerned about an extremely awkward situation. Rome was concerned about controlling the Jewish people at a volatile time. The soldiers were just following orders. Jewish mockers (Matthew 26:67, 68) reveled in seeing the miracle worker seemingly helpless. The twelve were concerned about the movement’s future—if Jesus died, was there a movement?

Ask them if their concern was “right,” and they would have said, “Yes!” Could God’s purposes be achieved if Israel ceased to exist? Could anything good result from a Jewish revolt? Would disobeying orders solve anything? Was not Jewish society better off without this divisive man? How could there be a movement if Jesus was dead?

The effect of seemingly legitimate concerns produced a single outcome—an innocent man’s death. We are deeply indebted to Jesus and to God for that death. However, the suffering and injustice was incredible! Only Jesus saw the true irony—they had no idea of what they did! God used it—no thanks to humanity!

Wonder how frequently God must act in our failure? Wonder how often the Christ still says, “They have not the least insight into what they do!” Wonder how often God says of us, “How do they think godless motives promote a godly cause?”

For "the name of God is blasphemed among the [godless] Gentiles BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written (Romans 2:24). Never deceive yourself: Godly results are never produced by ungodly motives. Be honest with yourself about your motives and acts.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 29 March 2007

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