This is PART 1 of the 7 PART Series titled “7 Sayings of Christ on the Cross”.
7 Sayings of Christ on the Cross – PART 1
Christ’s 1ST Saying (Luke 23:34)
”…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Jesus asked God, the Father, to forgive them for they did not know what they were doing. This was the first statement He said on the cross. His blood was shed for us that we might be clothed in the bright raiment of His righteousness. In all of His suffering, Christ demonstrated great compassion, not only for those who crucified Him, but for all mankind. As He forgave His tormentors, the Lord forgives all who come to Him in repentance seeking His forgiveness.
When Jesus was crucified, He fulfilled a number of prophetic Scriptures (Psalm 22:6, 16, 18; 34:20; 69:20-21; Isaiah 53:12; Zechariah 12:10). The idea that this terrible thing was done in ignorance runs through the New Testament. Acts 3:17, “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Acts 13:27, “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.”
According to Matthew’s account, Jesus had already suffered varied forms of abuse. He had been “scourged” (Matthew 27:26); He had “a crown of thorns” placed upon His head and was “mocked” (Matthew 27:29); the wicked ones had “spit upon Him . . . and smote Him on the head” (Matthew 27:30), and nailed Him to the cross. Jesus had been on the cross for a period of time and had said nothing. Everyone was wondering what would He say? Suddenly, from the lips of Jesus, there came the first word since He had been on the cross. The suspense of only a half-minute pause would have seemed like an eternity. What would His next words be? Would He pronounce a curse upon them?
His first words would bring a hush over the crowd. In the darkest hours of His life, Jesus called upon Him as a trustworthy “Father.” The next words that Jesus spoke are perhaps the sweetest words to ever fall from the lips of the Saviour. He said, "Father, forgive them". This fulfilled the prophecy “and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12). Here, Jesus practiced what He had preached earlier in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:44). Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. We cannot comprehend what a sword this would pierce into the unbelieving hearts of those Jews. Try to imagine what must have been going through the mind of those that had just passed by the cross and ridiculed Him for making Himself the Son of God.
In essence, the first words that came from His mouth were, “I love you!” His prayer to the Father for the forgiveness of His enemies was an expression of love for sinners. The malice of hatred was never as toxic as in this hour. Yet the strength of love was never as powerful as when Christ prayed for His enemies. While the wicked succeeded in manifesting their wicked hearts, the Lover of sinners succeeded in revealing His loving heart. And by asking the Father to forgive them, He demonstrated to us that where there is a heart of compassion, there is a heart of forgiveness.
Then the next phrase, "For they know not what they do", was like adding insult to injury. The Jews were a very proud people, and to tell them they did not know what they were doing did not help their feelings. This must have been a stunned crowd as they tried to analyze what the Lord Jesus had just said. The Saviour of men was the center of attention. But due to spiritual corruption and depravity, the people were blinded to His Person. Paul stated this, “for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (I Corinthians 2:8). The Jews did not fully understand the greatness of their sin in crucifying their God and Creator. Instead of showing Him their affection and devotion, they revealed their accusations and detestation. Because God alone can forgive sin and open blinded eyes, we must also pray for those who continue in spiritual ignorance.
Even as He was being tortured to death, Jesus remembered the purpose for which He came, to open the door of divine forgiveness for all who would receive Him. He prayed that the Father would forgive even His executioners, because they did not know what they were doing. As they gambled for His clothes, He pleaded for mercy for them, fulfilling prophecy from (Psalm 22:18). As sinners mocked Him, He interceded for them so that they might repent and be saved. He prayed for God to forgive those who were crucifying Him. The very purpose for His coming was to make provision for forgiveness of sins. God will hold no sin against any man if that man will personally trust His Son. If God forgave the men who killed His only Son, God will forgive any man for any sin—if that man will just ask.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank You for loving me and sending Jesus to die on the cross for me. Thank You that I can be forgiven of all my sins. Help me to share this Good News with others. In Your name. Amen.
Thank you for reading PART 1 of the 7 PART Series titled “7 Sayings of Christ on the Cross”. Please visit this website tomorrow for Part 2.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.