In Luke 23:34, Jesus is hanging on the cross it records that Jesus “was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Alone among other translations, the NASB version of the Bible does not say that “Jesus said” these words. The translators of the Greek New Testament to our English Bible are translating the mood of the Greek, which functions differently from the tenses in English, but seems to include tenses. (I don’t know better than this, so I will not act like it.) The point being, that this particular voice starts in the present and carries the activity into the future. As if Jesus is saying this many, many times from this place, until his death several hours later (See Mark for the times of death verses being put on the cross).
The question in my mind begins something like “Well, how long was he saying this before we reach this point.” The idea in my mind reveals an image much like that of a two-player video game. God the Father as player one. His son, and second person of the Trinity, as player two. On the top, the Father rages and fumes against humanity for doing this to his son. On player two’s screen, Jesus painfully, but resolutely moving through the motions of saving the world muttering these words to placate the Father. But this does not seem to be how it happened. The second initial image that comes into focus in my mind is that of the Father and the Son simply reminding each other of their plan. The Father rails against earth. The Son speaks these words, and all is calm in heaven; the next minute Jesus cries out in pain to the Father and the Father speaks of his plan to the Son and the Son is now reminded of the Love for Humans and the Cycle starts all over again.
I am convinced that both these images are equally wrong, but for their own reasons. There is a third possibility. Allow me to come in the back way: in John 16 Jesus is talking to his disciples after the last supper. He has spent the last three chapters talking to the disciples over a range of topics that concern their relationship with him. Now, he says that they will abandon him, but that he had the Father. In the final sentences of this conversation he gives them hope that he has completely taken over the world and that they will stand in right relationship with him still.
Then, He prays before he goes to war. Well, he prays then he prays that he doesn’t have to go to war, then he goes to war. The angles minister to him and then he is arrested. This starts the process leading to salvation. Reading the content of the prayer and conversation. What I want to point out is that the image that these scriptures in John paints is a picture of a Father that knows only to well what kind of suffering means to Christ. And of a Christ who would rather not have to do this; but, is willing to walk in the presence of his Father to accomplish their plan. The Trinitarian nature of this plan is unmistakable here in this instant.
The image that I did not paint before, the one that I think is the proper, is that of the Father and the Son working in unity to accomplish the Father’s work of salvation. Jesus, in the first paragraph speaks of the Father’s forgiveness towards others. It is my contention that Jesus is speaking this to root his emotions in the Father’s presence (similar to the move for his disciples in the last verses of chapter 16) and to keep the bitterness for all that he has suffered from taking root in him, while he is alone (on earth) and in pain. He wants to maintain, as he did through Gethsemane, the closeness with the Father. In doing this, he leads by example to teach us how to maintain the life of faith in the presence of great temptation to be bitter. (Though so much more then this, is true also.) This is Jesus’ worship through obedience.