Summary: We find forgiveness even & most especially from the cross
First Baptist Church
February 10, 2002
Has anyone ever really hurt you? Obviously, we have been hurt in
our lives. But I want you to think if there are people who have
done something to you that is so terrible that forgiveness seems out
of the question. Today we are beginning a new series of sermons.
Today, and for the next 6 weeks we are going to look at what is
called the "7 Last Words of Jesus on the Cross." The first time I
heard this I looked up the last saying of Jesus and tried to make it
into 7 words. I was sorely mistaken. The 7 last words of Jesus is
better called the "7 Last Sayings of Jesus while He was on the
With virtually each of these statements by Jesus, we will gain new
insight into our Savior; and we’ll learn more about what these
statements mean in our lives and how we can apply the words of
Jesus in our everyday situations.
With that in mind, let’s look at the first saying of Jesus while He
was on the cross. In fact, I believe the first statement by Jesus
may be the absolute hardest one for us to understand. But
understand may not be the proper word — it may be more proper
to say this statement by Jesus is almost impossible for us to
After all, Jesus had just been beaten and whipped and punched
and mocked; He has had a crown of thorns jammed onto His
head; His robe was ripped off His beaten back and the bleeding
started again; and He had to carry the instrument of death, His
cross. After all this, Jesus, who hovers near death because of the
merciless, yet normal crucifixion beating, must be nailed onto the
cross. His wrists are tied to the cross and the nails are pounded
into the forearm side of His wrists. This way the heavy spike will
not rip through His hands. Now His feet are tied onto the post
that will support Him and the spike goes through the bones and
muscles in Jesus’ feet.
The Roman centurions carefully pick up the cross and with a thud,
it falls into place in the ground. Their work is done. Jesus hangs
on the cross, pain ripping through His body, people mocking Him,
the two criminals mocking Him, the guards casting lots for His
clothes, His beloved disciples have mostly scattered.
Jesus now looks into the crowd of people and He makes His first
proclamation, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what
they are doing." Can you imagine that statement? Let me say it
again, and let it sink in for a moment — "Father, forgive them, for
they do not know what they are doing."
Could you do that? Yea, right. Let’s go back to my first question,
‘has anyone hurt you so bad that their sin was unforgivable?’
Maybe someone slandered your name, they told stories that were
not true. It cost you your job, maybe a career, it impacted your
family life, your finances, your belief in the goodness of people.
And you knew that these same people were avid church-goers.
How could you forgive them?
Or maybe it was something someone did to you physically.
Another person took advantage of you physically, you were
raped, or abused. It has affected your relationships, it has
changed your view of yourself and intimacy. It has taken away
some of your personhood. How can you forgive those people?
A woman sat in her pastors office and said, "I think I’m going to
kill myself. I don’t have any reason to live anymore." Her friends
had desserted her, she had no job, she had no money and even
her children had abandoned her and couldn’t care less about what
happened to her. She explained that when she told her son she
was thinking about killing herself, he replied, "Mom, why don’t you
just go ahead and do it and get out of our hair."1
How do you forgive the unforgivable? If any act in history is
unforgivable, the act that occurred 2,000 years ago is the one.
What could be more unforgivable than to see the Son of God,
hanging from a cross. When you crucify the Son of God you’ve
crossed the line and have entered into the unforgivable, you have
entered what we would consider to be an act that is beyond
Let’s take a quick look at that statement by Jesus, "Father, forgive
them for they do not know what they are doing?" Who was He
talking about? Who is the "THEY?"
Let’s look at some of the possibilities. First, there were the
Roman soldiers. Obviously, they knew what they were doing,