Greatest of all Miracles
Excerpts from The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
God is All-Forgiving
Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Of all the miracles performed by Jesus, none was equal to that mightiest miracle of the spiritual victory of divine love over evil: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." These words have created in human hearts an everlasting monument to Christ-love.
Jesus could not be tempted to use divine power or any other means except love to conquer the hatred of his wicked brothers. With his spiritual eye opened to Christ and Cosmic Consciousness, Jesus was able consciously to wield power over all creation, and could have easily disintegrated his enemies. Satan's intent in the crucifixion of Jesus was that it serve as a final temptation, that he might use his miraculous power to save his temporal body. The ever presumptuous Satan expected that the spirit of Jesus would break down under the test on the cross, succumbing to inner weakness of fear or revengefulness that would make him forsake his God-consciousness and thus come under the dominion of delusion. But Jesus defeated Satan with the superior powers of his God-united spirit. He conquered with godliness and thus forever banished satanic delusion from the precincts of his soul. (p1477)
In here addressing God as "Father," Jesus appeals to the personal heart of Divinity: "Heavenly Father, You have created human fathers and endowed them with instincts of kindness for their children, instincts born of Your infinitely greater Love; bestow that Benevolence on Your erring children, my brothers who are so wrongfully persecuting me."
"Forgive them" means:
"Heavenly Father, being Almighty, You alone can stay Your cosmic law and forgive my persecutors from suffering the results of their terrible sins committed against me."
"For they know not what they do"
means that all sins, consciously or unconsciously performed, are committed under the influence of innate human ignorance. Any soul who has attained divine wisdom will do no evil.
In this act of expressing divine forgiveness under the most intense provocation of malefic treatment, Jesus lifted himself up so far above the average human nature that he felt in himself fatherly feelings toward all humanity; and thus when some of the grown-up-in-age-but-infantile-in-wisdom human children were crucifying him, he could only feel pity for them in their ignorance. In picturing the magnitude of their fateful, self-created suffering, he ignored his own. Instead of praying for surcease of his own torment, with infinite compassion he interceded with the Heavenly Father on behalf of his murderers. (p1475)