• on February 12, 2018

The Seven Last Words of Christ: Father Forgive Them

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Everything in the ministry of Jesus Christ led up to this moment…

On his days on earth, Jesus did a great deal of things.  He taught life changing messages that quickly spread throughout the land.  He healed the sick from ailments and sicknesses.  Through his steadfastness, he singlehandedly turned a religious system on its head and inspire future believers for generations to come.  Yet, everything that Christ sought to achieve and His full purpose in coming led to this moment on the cross.  During this time, Jesus said very little, but the seven last statements of Christ would have a profound and lasting effect on all who heard.

He was crucified that day, a particularly brutal and bloody process.  All of this having been whipped, beaten, and bloodied long before His crucifixion.  No one could bring any true charge against Him and instead levied lies and falsehoods as the means of His judgment.  When it came time to crucify Him, he was placed in between two criminals, the people seeing Christ as nothing more than a mere criminal.  There, the mocking and pain continued.  Yet, it was the response of Jesus that stunned the crowd and epitomized the mission that Jesus came to complete.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34, NIV

 

Throughout the entire corps of the bible, it is abundantly clear; sin requires punishment.  Specifically, sin requires bloodshed.  With sin’s entrance into the world, death came alongside.  Death will not be satiated until the issue of sin is eradicated.  The death of a guilty man could bring the ledger for that person to zero (not to restoration but to finalization) but the death of a perfect King could satiate death for all He chose to impart it to.  This is why Jesus hung on the cross, to save mankind from their sins.  Yet, for all Christ was doing for the good of mankind, they mocked Him throughout the process.  With his first words, inching closer and closer to death, Jesus cried out “Father, forgive them!  They do not know what they are doing.”

Justice Not Ignored

This image of an innocent man dying on the cross for the sins of others presents an interesting picture of justice.  So much so that it would almost seem that God is choosing grace over justice.  The sins of the people do not apply to Jesus as He was the only perfect person, able to be tempted with the same sins as you and I but remain steadfast in their presence.  Yet, Jesus hung on the cross, crying out “Father forgive them” for those who sought His death. The act of Jesus dying for the sake of mankind was established long in the Old Covenant where the sins of the people were placed on a lamb without blemish or fault.  As the priest laid a hand on the lamb, the sins were transferred from the people to the lamb.  Jesus, in this moment serves as both our High Priest and our Sacrificial Lamb.

Jesus remains the only person to have walked this earth where justice and grace could be expressed simultaneously. Only through the willful sacrifice of an innocent man for the guilty can both justice and grace be upheld. Click To Tweet

Yet, we must not think that Jesus discarded the law or simply chose to ignore it for the sake of grace.  Doing so would have torn the universe in half.  Justice must still be upheld according to the perfect design of God from the beginning.  With the shedding of Christ’s blood, justice was upheld for the sins of man, but with the innocence and divinity of Jesus grace was offered to all.  Jesus remains the only person to have walked this earth where justice and grace could be expressed simultaneously.  Only through the willful sacrifice of an innocent man for the guilty can both justice and grace be upheld.

Face To Face With Our Sin

There is something about this image of Jesus being mocked, abused, and crucified all the while being fully innocent and crying out “Father forgive them.”  When you take the time to consider this scene, you come face to face with your sin that put Jesus there.  An innocent man died a horrible death so that I wouldn’t have to.  In the midst of this barbaric and horrific scene, He cries out in prayer.  But he does not cry out to call for angels or supernaturally bring himself off the cross.  Instead he cries out that we would be forgiven for our ignorance in putting Him on the cross.

For whatever guilt we may feel, look intently at the cross of Christ and know that every ounce of this act serves as the means of our salvation driven by the love of God. Click To Tweet

Truth be told, we didn’t know (and arguably still don’t) the effect that our sins had on ourselves and on the world.  It wedged a chasm in-between God and man and we celebrated in this fact, choosing to indulge our fleshly desire.  Now, we see this moment for what it is; divine intervention. Jesus sought our forgiveness as the life slowly poured from His body and now we are able to come face to face with our sins.  The ignorance is lifted.  But for whatever guilt we may feel, look intently at the cross of Christ and know that every ounce of this act serves as the means of our salvation driven by the love of God.


For more in this series, check out Seven Last Words of Christ.

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