34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.”
When you hear Pastor Burton’s story, do you realize how much Jesus can identify with Pastor Burton? Jesus’ friends and his nation betrayed him, a Roman procurator who could see his innocence approved his crucifixion (cf. John 19:4-6), and he felt a deep sense of separation from God (cf. Matthew 27:46). Yet on the cross, Jesus did what might seem impossible—he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Click here to learn more about Pastor Burton’s new “Miracle of Innocence” ministry.
Compassionate God, you suffered so much, yet prayed, “Father, forgive them…” As you forge a new identity in me, may I see myself and others through your eyes, and forgive as you forgave. Amen.
Pastor Darryl Burton’s story of unjust conviction and incarceration is powerful and disturbing (https://www.darrylburton.org/). His story of forgiveness is equally powerful and disturbing, because it goes against one dominant value in our culture-–violence against evil. Our society believes in violence as the answer to end evil and suffering. Just look at the latest Hollywood blockbusters to see the “myth of redemptive violence,” that is, the myth that only violence can save us from evil. *
The belief that violence can save us from evil is simply that--a belief in the face of millennia of historical evidence revealing it for the lie it is. Belief in violence is perhaps one of the most persistent religious ideas of our day. Darryl himself was a victim of this belief in violence.
If Pastor Burton followed this dominant value, he would seek violence against those who unjustly incarcerated him for 24 years. He would seek to destroy those who had destroyed his life. Instead, he chooses another way—the way of Jesus, the way of reconciliation.
In the GPS for today, we are invited to consider ways that
each of us, in everyday life, could make justice a priority. Perhaps one way we
can follow Jesus’ way of reconciliation is to question the judgment about
others who are presumed guilty-–whether in the criminal justice system, in a
news story, in our community or across the globe. Before we join the chorus of
condemnation on Facebook or Twitter, we can pause to consider we might be wrong
and thus do great harm.
Pastor Burton shows us how to walk the Jesus path seeking redemption rather than violence, restoration rather than vengeance. Praise be to God.
* For more on “the myth of redemptive violence,” see Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers. Fortress, 1992.
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