"Father, forgive them; they don't know...."
I have a good and thoughtful friend who is pondering the request of Jesus to the Father to forgive his enemies.
Luke writes, "When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing' " (23:33-34). The immediate context reports that the request is directed toward the Roman soldiers whose task it was to nail Jesus to the cross. The verse goes on to report that the soldiers gambled for Jesus' robe.
Question: Did the Father hear and answer this request of his Son? Jesus does not say from the cross, "...nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done" as in Gethsemane. Here it is a straightforward request. Dare I say it was a passionate command?
If the Father did forgive them, what do we do with the need for repentance before forgiveness? These hardened soldiers certainly aren't asking for forgiveness; they're simply doing their gruesome job. Did the soldiers unknowingly and undeservingly win a "get out of hell free" card at that moment?
If the Father does not forgive them, what are we to make of Jesus' request to the Father? If the Father says "No" to his Son? Why? The Father and Son are not "one" at this point?
It's not enough to make this a general and kind blanket request for forgiveness of the whole world, is it? That presents another mega-set of problems, doesn't it?
Did the Father answer Jesus' specific request from the cross or not? Please comment.