Once I heard a Stake President say that when Christ said on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” that he was asking for forgiveness for the Romans only; that the Jews were never forgiven. Considering what the Jewish have been through, it seems possible, but where in the scriptures do I find something to support that claim?
Thanks in advance.
From the Biblical accounts of Christ’s crucifixion, it seems clear that when the Lord said “Father, forgive them”, he was referring specifically to the Roman guards who were performing the crucifixion. Quoting from Luke 23:
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Note that “they” and “them” above look to be referring to the men actively carrying out the crucifixion. These were rough, vulgar, brutal men, as low-ranking Roman soldiers in that position would have to have been. It appears the Lord had compassion on them in their spiritually squalid state, Gentiles though they were.
But just because the Lord was referring to the Roman guards in his famous “Father, forgive them” quotation, does not mean that He was therefore implicitly condemning the entire Jewish race for killing him. Remember, the mortal Jesus’ own family and friends were all Jews. If Christ knew the corruption of Israel better than anyone, he also knew the beauty and nobility of spirit of many within Israel who kept and magnified their covenants.
In my opinion, we would do very well to avoid any suggestion that we think the Jewish people have somehow “earned” the last two thousand years of discrimination and persecution because a relative handful of corrupt Jewish political leaders had Jesus put to death two millennia ago. In the Lord’s own words, found in 2 Nephi 29:5,
O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.