Last Words from the Cross — Article Series:
#1 - Forgiveness

#2 - Salvation

#3 - Comfort
#4 - A Cry from Hell

#5 - I Thirst

# 6 - Victory!
#7 - Committal

Last Words from the Cross #1 - Forgiveness (posted 3-5-03)

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Roman soldiers had just nailed Jesus to the cross and were now gambling for His clothes. They were undoubtedly accustomed to screams, curses, and pleas for mercy at crucifixions. Imagine their surprise when Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. He was also praying for the Jewish religious leaders who plotted His death, the mob who cried, “Crucify Him,” and Pilate, the vacillating Roman governor who vainly tried to be neutral. Jesus was even praying for us because it was actually our sins that nailed Him to that tree. Let us meditate on this profound word. First,

It is a Compassionate Word! “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Here is ultimate compassion. Since Jesus even loved and prayed for those who murdered Him, can’t you believe He loves you and also prayed for you there? You may think you have gone too far, sinned too much, and are beyond hope. Don’t you believe it! Jesus loves you unconditionally and longs to see you forgiven. The Bible says, “…Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, …” (Hebrews 12:2). What was this joy that was set before Him? I believe He saw you and me down the corridors of time. He saw that His cross would allow us to be forgiven and be in Heaven with Him some day and that gave Him joy. Yes, He was praying for our forgiveness, too. This word of compassion proves Jesus loves you and me. Secondly,

It Is a Cleansing Word!  In order to have fellowship with God and go to Heaven we must be cleansed of sin. This prayer of Jesus for our forgiveness gives us hope that we can be cleansed. He was not asking God to ignore our sin. Sin demands death (Romans 6:23a). Our forgiveness required Jesus to die on the cross. God could not be just and forgive us unless the penalty was paid. Since Jesus never sinned, His death could count for us. When Jesus prayed this prayer, He was making the full payment for our sins, thus satisfying God’s justice. Therefore, with our confession and faith, God could be “…faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). However, forgiveness is not automatic or involuntary. It’s like a banquet invitation marked RSVP. This is French for “repondez s’il vous plait,”(English: “Respond if you please”). To put it plainly, it meant, “Don’t come without a reservation!” Jesus likened Heaven to a great banquet (Matthew 22 & Luke 14). He invites you and me to go with Him as His special guests, but if you don’t respond by personal repentance and faith in Him, you don’t get in. But we don’t have to beg Him to forgive our sins. This word proves He already wants to.

Have you responded to His invitation? If you haven’t or are not sure, here’s how you can. Simply believe Jesus died for you and rose from the dead. Ask Him to come into your heart, forgive your sins and save you. He will! Because of His compassion, you can be cleansed and know you are on your way to Heaven. That is wonderful good news! Be sure you have claimedClaim it.     Finally,

It is a Commissioning Word!
His forgiving example strongly implies we are to pass it on. We should do this in two ways. First, we are to forgive others who have sinned against us. Notice Jesus had a forgiving attitude toward those who had murdered Him, even before they asked for forgiveness. Accordingly, we should have a forgiving attitude toward others who have sinned against us without waiting for an apology. Secondly, this word commissions us to tell everyone that Jesus wants to forgive and cleanse them as well. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [good news] to every creature (Mark 16:15).

There is a cemetery somewhere in New York State with an unusual gravestone. No name or date is on this stone, only the word, “FORGIVEN!” Without that, what else matters? Are you forgiven? The greatest need in the world is forgiveness of sin. May God help you be certain of His forgiveness and then share it with others. Amen!

                           © 2003 D. B. Martin

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