4/14/12 “Father, Forgive Them”

“Father, Forgive Them”

Luke 23:26-43 Key Verse: 34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

2012 Easter Bible School Lecture 2                           Part I                by #Paola Terova#

In today’s message, Part I will describe Jesus’ road to the cross and one man’s salvation. In Part II, I will talk about Jesus’ heart and love for all sinners through his prayer, while he suffered on the cross. Lastly, we will see the Lord’s wonderful grace for one sinner in particular, as well as for us all.

Part I: Jesus’ Crucifixion

Previously, from verse 23:20, we learned that the chief priests, the rulers and many citizens demanded that Jesus be crucified, while asking for Barabbas to be released. Their request had finally been granted. How sad! How unfair it was that innocent Jesus was going to go to the cross to die, while the heartless religious leaders watched in the distance as it all happened. Because of that, many women and many followers of Jesus were weeping. They saw the injustice and how Jesus suffered, and their hearts were overcome with grief and pain. Today, Jesus’ sentence would be similar to capital punishment or the death penalty: it was certain that Jesus was soon going to die; it was just a matter of time before it happened.

Yet, even though now Jesus was being led away by Roman soldiers to be crucified, he was not weak. Undeniably, his suffering was greater than any person has ever endured. While his body was in pain and he had thorns on his head, the sting of betrayal, humiliation and sorrow trialed his heart; he carried a cross on his back and he bore all the sins of the world in his body.

Isaiah 53:7 tells us more about his suffering: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”Isaiah Chapter 53 Verse 7 tells us that throughout this whole time, even though Jesus was greatly afflicted, even though he suffered every step of the way, amazingly he did not try to plead with the religious leaders to release him. He did not complain, he did not even open his mouth. Yet in the midst of this, though he seemed powerless, Jesus was still the great, powerful Son of God, whose name in Isaiah 9:6 is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”. Isaiah and other prophets predicted key events in the life of Jesus as well as his road to Calvary. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and proved that He was the True Messiah. In addition to that, Jesus intended and knew about these events from the beginning. In John 10:17-18 Jesus said: ” The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” But why? Why did Jesus have to suffer so much?

1 Peter 2:24 tells us about Jesus: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” It was for us! All the pain, suffering and anguish that Jesus endured, it was so that we may die to sin, and live for Jesus and his righteousness! He suffered and was crucified on our account, taking the punishment of our sins, in our behalf. And by the wounds of Jesus, we can be healed! I pray that today we may accept the suffering of Jesus on the cross and may choose to live for His glory.

Secondly, Verse 26 says: “As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus”. From this verse we can see how Jesus was always caring for his sheep, even as he was being led to the cross. He wanted every single one of God’s children to be saved. When the soldiers ordered Simon to carry the cross of Jesus, they did not realize that this would be the most blessed and wonderful of day Simon’s life. That was the day when Simon from Cyrene met Jesus and while carrying his cross, saw his undeserved suffering. Later in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans, we see that Simon and his children had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

Part II: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”

Again, let us read together verse 34. Let’s go: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” I am always amazed at God’s wonderful love for sinners. In John Chapter 4:10 we read: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We just saw much Jesus suffered. Yet even at this moment, he did not let his heart grow cold or full of hatred. Instead Jesus cried out to God. In fact, from the beginning Jesus knew that these events would take place. In Mark 10:32-34 he told his disciples: “When we get to Jerusalem, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again”.

Sometimes I get busy with school and other things in life that I neglect praying to God regularly. Today I personally was reminded that I must trust God. I learned that I must continually come before Him in prayer, no matter how easy or how difficult my life may be. Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to pray without ceasing. So, what did Jesus pray about? Remember, at that moment, Jesus was painfully suffering and eventually was crucified by Roman soldiers. He was mocked and rejected. In fact Jesus was being crucified by the very same people whose souls he came to redeem. At that moment, if you were in his place, what would you have prayed for? Would you have prayed for comfort? For healing? For revenge?

But Jesus prayed to God: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Jesus truly wants all people to be saved. He asked God to forgive those who were crucifying him, all of those people who caused him so much grief and pain. Even then, as Jesus was suffering on the cross, before breathing his last breath, we can see how much he loved his sheep, how he cared for them, and how he prayed even for his enemies.

Verses 35-40 tell us more about Jesus’ crucifixion. In these verses we discover that many people watched this event, rulers sneered at Jesus and the soldiers mocked him. Even one of the criminals who hung on a cross hurled insults at him. However, Verse 40, introduces us to someone who had a different heart and spirit; another criminal who hung on the cross. He defended Jesus by rebuking the first criminal. He said “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he made one heartfelt request to Jesus. He said in verse 40, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Through this request we see one sinner’s repentant heart and hope in Lord Jesus Christ. This person acknowledged that he was a sinner, and that he was going to die. Yet his heart was filled with hope. Why? Because he sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He humbly asked Jesus to receive him in his kingdom. And how did Jesus answer him? “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I hope we can all learn from this sinner. I hope we realize how similar we are to him. As we go on with our daily lives, I hope we do not forget Jesus’ immense suffering and death. I hope we may remember the great price that was paid so we could be saved.
Often, when we have been wronged or persecuted, it seems easier to ask for retribution, rather than for forgiveness of our enemies. When preparing this message, I realized that I am a sinner. Just like the sinners who persecuted Jesus, just like the sinners on the cross, we all have fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, we can still be filled with hope. Through his suffering, death and resurrection Jesus redeemed us. When we accept him, Jesus promises, “You will be with me in paradise.” Jesus prayed for the people who caused him to suffer, and he also has prayed for me and for you. Isaiah 53:12 tells us that “He made intercession for the transgressors”. Today Jesus wants us to follow his example. He commanded us in Matthew 5:44 part a: ‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”.

Conclusion: Today I learned that I must follow the example of Jesus. I must pray not only for my Christian brothers and sisters, but for also those who persecute God’s children. I must pray for others even when I don’t feel like it, even when I am suffering, even when it is hard to do so. I pray that God would grant us strength to love the people around us, especially those who persecute us; to release our bitterness and resentment, to pray for them, and to ask God to forgive them. Let us read key verse 34 together again.

Interact with us using Facebook

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.