Summary: No words can describe the depth to which man had fallen in killing the only perfect man whoever lived. But there are no words of cursing coming from that cross. There are no words of revenge, but unbelievably we hear words of love.
The one subject that is appropriate for every Christian holiday, and for the season of lent, and for
the recognition of Washington and Lincoln, and for the Valentine season is the subject of love. It
is not only the greatest of the Christian virtues, but is the most universally relevant subject there is.
Love not only makes the world go round, it makes the trip more exciting. All of us need to give an
Nevertheless, there are those who feel you can be too loving, and they urge moderation even in
mercy. Lincoln was accused of being to soft during the Civil War. He was so merciful that he
went out of his way to pardon people that he knew were guilty. One young soldier had gone to
sleep at his post, and he was court marshaled and condemned to be shot. Lincoln intervened and
gave this defense: "I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of that poor young man
on my skirts. It is not wondered at that a boy raised on a farm, probably in the habit of going to
bed at dark, should, when required to watch, fall asleep. And I cannot consent to shoot him for
such an act." There was no question about his guilt, but he was granted the blessing of hearing the
words of love-you are forgiven.
On another occasion 24 deserters were to be shot. Warrants for their execution were sent to
Lincoln to be signed. A General urged Lincoln to sign them to make these men an example to the
rest. In spite of the forceful argument Lincoln replied, "There are already too many weeping
widows in the United States. For God's sake don't ask me to add to the number, for I won't do it."
With complete knowledge of their guilt he pardoned them, and he spoke the words of love-you are
Amazing grace indeed, but no where near as amazing as the words of love we hear from the
central cross on Golgatha. Here we see the King of the Jews-the Lord Jesus, being unjustly
crucified with criminals. It was the greatest sin against God ever committed on this planet. No
words can describe the depth to which man had fallen in killing the only perfect man whoever
lived. But there are no words of cursing coming from that cross. There are no words of revenge,
but unbelievably we hear words of love, and words of pardon, for Jesus said, "Father forgive them
for they know not what they do."
Murder mysteries are famous for surprising endings, but you never see a more surprising
ending than this. Here are the guilty standing before God as their judge, and who is their defense
attorney? It is none other than the very victim of their dastardly crime. And what does he plead?
He does not plead not guilty, for they are guilty as sin. But he pleads the mercy of the court in
saying, "Father forgive them." These are the greatest words of love ever spoken on this earth. For
if Jesus had not forgiven those who crucified Him, there would be no plan of salvation, for the sins
of all mankind took Jesus to the cross, and without His words of pardon no one could be saved.
These words of love represent God's pardon for a world of rebels who have defied His will.
There is no doubt about their guilt, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Nevertheless, with full knowledge of their guilt Jesus pardoned the guilty and made it possible for
every sinner to become a child of God. Jesus died for all sin, and that included the sin of causing
Him to die. The result is that no one ever has to pay the penalty for the greatest sin ever. And if
that sin is forgiven, then Jesus stands ready at all times to forgive any sin and to speak these words
of love to any who come to Him-"Father forgive them."
In 1973 a bank robber got caught in the act in Stockholm, Sweden. He took three women and
a man as hostages for 131 hours. There was no way he could escape, and so in frustration he
terrorized his hostages. He shot off his assault weapon to scare them. He threatened their lives
and just made them miserable. When it was all over one of the women became his fiancée. Woe!
you say. What is that again? That's right, it is no mistake, and one of the women fell in love with
this jerk. To add to the surprise, the other hostages refused to testify against him. The crazy thing
about it is that this is not an isolated incident. It is just one example of a pattern which has come