Some of the most memorable words Jesus spoke from the cross are these: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
This cry from the cross underscores Jesus’s unshakable relationship with the Father and His enormous capacity for forgiveness. But is it really possible that those who nailed Jesus to the cross didn’t know what they didn’t know?
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (2:8) Later, in an autobiographical moment, he writes, “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and in unbelief” (1:13). Ignorance of the law is still no excuse, but God is merciful.