Holy Week Part 1: The Word of Forgiveness
The Word of Forgiveness – Luke 23:34
They say that some of most important words are our first words. The words we first mumble when we learn how to speak and communicate with the people around us. Just as important, if not even more so, are our final words. Our last words when we are dying. Jesus had his final seven sayings on the cross on which He died, and today I want to share with you a bit about the first of his final seven words or sayings from the cross.
“Then He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” – Luke 23:34 – This is the word of forgiveness. Here is Jesus on the cross. The creator of all things, who gives light and love to the world, is in excruciating pain and in the process of dying. And yet while man is at his worst, rejecting and crucifying the Son of God, Jesus is praying for their forgiveness.
His face was spit on. His lips are parched and his face covered in blood from the cross of thorns thrusted upon his head. His body is bloody from the beatings and lashings he suffered. The hands that healed the sick are now stretched out and nailed with spikes to a wooden cross, made from the trees He spoke into existence. His feet that walked on water, that walked into the brokenness and hopelessness of the outcasts, rejected, and broken, are nailed to the cross. Yet in the midst of the greatest unjust and undeserved suffering the world has ever known, the innocent, righteous, and beautiful one, Jesus is praying for his enemies… for sinners. For you and me.
What kind of love is this? Love that doesn’t pray for revenge, but for forgiveness? The Roman soldiers are indifferent and gambling for clothes. The religious leaders were jeering and mocking Him. The crowd was blaspheming Him, and His disciples were hiding in fear. Yet the words of Jesus on the cross show us the great mercy and love of God. Jesus prays that they not be held in judgement for the sins committed against Him. But He also says, “…for they know not what they do”. All those in the crowd, the soldiers, and the religious leaders, Jesus is praying for them because they are all ignorant as to who He really is, and what He was truly accomplishing on the cross.
How about you? Are you aware of love and mercy of God and why Jesus truly died? Are you more preoccupied with the material things of this world like the Roman soldiers to notice the Savior who died in your place? Perhaps you are like many others today who are more concerned about their religion or denomination than they are about Jesus, just like the religious leaders of that day. Or maybe, you’re just like those in the crowd who blasphemed Jesus, they really didn’t know much about Jesus, they just wanted to be on the right side, with the right crowd. Besides, who wants to follow a Jesus that gets you laughed at or worse crucified?
Jesus prayed that day… and He prays for us today. He is praying for you today. Father forgive them, because I died for them. I paid the price for their sin, and I died that they might live.