Luke 23:26-35 New King James Version (NKJV)
The King on a Cross
26 Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
27 And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.
28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’
30 Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.
33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
"When they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him" (v 33). Our Savior, Jesus.
--Our family visited the office of the Massachusetts Governor, in the State House at Boston Common.
--In the same room another Governor had friends visit who had just returned from the Holy Land.
--They told of visiting Calvary. Gave him a gift.
--They said, "When we were there we remembered you."
--The Governor graciously thanked them saying, "Gentlemen, I appreciate your gift, and your thought of me while you were there; but I am more thankful for Another, who thought of me at Calvary." Jesus!
--Jesus' first thought was always for others.
--On that cross prayed, "Father, forgive them..."
Ever been forgiven? A beautiful word and feeling!
--To seek forgiveness. To give it in love to others.
--It embodies all God's gracious attributes.
--It removes divisions and separations, for peace.
--It unites one closer to God, and to one another.
Jesus' words are the first of seven spoken by Him on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (v 34). All we need to be forgiven.
--Followed by, "Today you shall be with me ..."
--To His Mother, "Woman, behold your Son" (John 19:26).
--"My God, my God! Why have You forsaken Me?"
--The fifth word, "I thirst" (John 19:28).
--"It is finished" (John 19:30). What? Salvation!
--Finally, "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit" (Luke 23:46). And Jesus breathed His last.
A Roman Centurion heard all these words, was saved as he said, "Truly, this is the Son of God."
--God, the Son, died ... so believers may live!
We see Jesus praying for others first, on His cross.
--"Father, forgive them," for He had no sins to seek forgiveness - thus could atone for ours!
--Never do we read of Jesus seeking any forgiveness.
--"Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
--He was fulfilling Isaiah 53:12, "He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
--One of the many prophecies Jesus perfectly filled.
--In these words may be compressed the reasons Jesus came to earth .. the meaning of His Holy life .. and the blessed hope He has given all humanity.
Isn't that like a loving Savior to ask forgiveness - not for Himself - no, for you and me and all others.
--Listen, friend! If Jesus had not prayed this, the crowd who crucified Christ would have been guilty, of the unpardonable sin, putting to death the Son of God Who came to show us who God is and can do.
--Having thus prayed, for them, such could be saved!
This is the Holy One, the place, act and scene, that divides all history, and makes possible salvation.
--May the Holy Spirit recall often that picture, on the canvas of our mind and heart, to love Him more.
You remember the events leading to Jesus' last hours.
--The Last Supper He instituted with His disciples.
--His prayer vigil, agonizing in Gethsemane Garden.
--Human life began in the Garden of Eden in Genesis.
--Jesus prayed in a Garden. Crucified in a Garden.
--Buried in a Garden. Crucified in a Garden.
--Make a place in your life for a Garden of Prayer.!
Then Jesus' betrayal by Judas, denial by Peter.
--His mock trials - no witness, no lawyer or defense.
--Then, between two thieves, crucified, by soldiers.
--He wore a crown of thorns. Imagine His anguish!
My dear friend, this is the price, our sin cost Him.
--God says, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
--Like all else, sin must be paid for - we will - or we accept what Jesus did - by our repentance, receiving and obeying Christ as our Savior-Messiah.
--It is a gift of God's love, "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
--Have you fully trusted Jesus as your Savior?
--There is no better - no other - way than Jesus who said, "I am the way,
the truth, the life; no one come to the Father, except through Me" (John 14:6).
After all night of agony and inquisition, Jesus went out with His cross, all the morning, hanging there.
--At midday the sun blackened - and 3 hours as night.
--The "veil of the temple was torn .. top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split and the graves were opened; and many bodies of saints, who had fallen asleep were raised" (Matthew 27:51f).
--This was not a usual crucifixiion, nor usual Man!
--All heaven, and nature, witnessed Jesus' majesty!
--Something most eternally significant was going on!
When Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them," who is it?
--Forgive Judas? Caiphas? Priests? Pilate, Herod?
--Forgive the Roman soldiers? The crowd? And, us?
--The answer, "Forgive them all." All of us sin.
--That's what God says, "All have sinned" (Romans 3:23).
--That means we all - all need forgiving. Saving.
Some say, how could Jesus forgive such acts?
--It is said, "To return evil for good is devilish..to return good for good is human .. but to return good for evil is divine." Jesus does that!
--Because Jesus is divine. He's ready to forgive.
God returns good - His good - for our transgressions and cleanses and consecrates us toward His likeness.
Because of what Jesus did that Good Friday, when you and I confess and repent, God remembers our sins "no more." We have God's holy Word, and promise.
--"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins" we read in Isaiah 43:25. Circle it, please.
God removes them, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). "Removed," so we may reject them.
--If that is not enough, "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea," in Micah 7:19.
--He washes us, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:2).
--God washes penitents,"whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7).
The supreme wondrous power of the Gospel, Jesus is "Able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him," besides, "He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:23).
--No other Savior, or religion, crucified and risen!
--No other is God and has done all Jesus did for us.
Becoming "born again" we learn each of us is a wonderful creation of God .. with a purpose .. of value.
--That God has a plan for good for us! Each of us.
--"I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
--Ponder long this promise, and God's plan for you.
--He will listen to you, when you pray and live right.
Listen! A Christian is a mind in which God presides.
--A heart in which Christ lives and loves, to others.
--A voice in which Christ speaks, truth and grace.
--A hand reaching out to give a lift to another.
When one is forgiven, Holy Spirit-filled, life is joyous - no matter the weather, location or condition.
--It is the attitude of communion with our Lord!
--Of representing Jesus Christ to a lost world.
People often say, "The thing holding me from being a Christian or church member, I'm afraid I will fail .. for where I work are some rought people.. or, my past haunts me .. and I'm not sure I can succeed..."
--We can all find lots of excuses, can't we?
I'm glad we can tell them about a lovely Easter lily, all pure and white - but it grew in the muck and mire of soil and dirt. God made it! Kept it pure, white! And friend, God's Spirit in us can do that for us!
We all make mistakes - why erasers are on pencils.
--We can let them defeat us. Or we can defeat them!
--I like what General Colin Powell said, "focus ahead on the front windshield - not on the rearview mirror."
--With Jesus as Savior - and Lord! - succeed is ahead.
--You'll focus on a better life .. world .. future.
--"Be forgiven" today.
Dr. Wilbert D. Gough, ThD. DD. 395