Summary: Jesus’ first cry on the cross ushered in His ministry of intercession for the world. He has not ceased to intercede for us. Man’s greatest need is the forgiveness of our sin.

Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them..." (Luke 23:34).

This was the first recorded cry of Jesus on the cross.

• It sums up the reason He was there. It encapsulates the meaning of the cross.

• He was asking God to give men what they needed most – forgiveness of their sin.

• Jesus is going to pay the price in full on the cross, so that you and I can be forgiven.

It is difficult to comprehend, especially after a very difficult week for Jesus.

• He has been betrayed, imprisoned, judged unfairly, beaten, whipped, mocked, and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem.

• He has had a crown of thorns placed upon his head. He has been humiliated, and mistreated in a most cruel way. He is about to die a most painful death.

• And yet, the first words from his lips are words of forgiveness.

No one expected that. A normal person would curse and swear.

• But Jesus wasn’t thinking about Himself. He has never been.

• This cry reveals to us where His heart was – He was still thinking about plight of sinful men.

• It was a prayer cry for forgiveness. He was pleading for God to grant men forgiveness for their sin.

He has the right to such a prayer, because He is going to stay on the cross till the full penalty of sin is fully paid up.

• No wonder someone says, what held Him there on the cross wasn’t the nails, but His love.

• We deserve to be punished for their sin, but Jesus refuses to give it to us. He wants to save us. This was the reason why He came. This was the reason why He was staying up on the cross.

Forgiveness is the greatest need of man, because we have sinned against God.

• We need to repent and return to God, and ask for His forgiveness.

• What man needs is not more learning, more education, or more knowledge. We have so much more today than the generations before, but none of these can make us a better person.

• We see the same, if not worst, evil, violence, cruelty and crimes.

We need a life change, and that can only comes through a relationship with God.

• That relationship can only be restored or reconciled when our sin is dealt with.

• No wonder this was Jesus’ first cry on the cross. That was His greatest concern. That was the most important concern.

• Dear friends, you need a relationship with God, to live right and be right.

Jesus cries out, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

• Who, I wonder, was Jesus referring to? Who were the ‘them’ He was praying for? Many people were involved.

Closest to Him would have been the execution party, the Roman soldiers.

• They were the ones that mocked Him, flogged Him and made the crown of thorns for Him. They had the difficult task of nailing a person to the cross.

• But they were just soldiers following orders.

• They did not know Jesus nor were they interested. They just do their job.

Many today are like the soldiers. They just want to get on with their lives.

• They do not want to know more, not even the truth.

• They missed out on a real encounter with God.

"Father, forgive them…" Jesus said.

• And it could be the religious teachers He was praying for. They had been against Him all along.

• They had been following Him throughout His ministry trying to accuse Him of wrongdoings.

• They were highly educated in the Law and they thought they know it all, but the Messiah has come and they did not recognise Him.

Their preconceived ideas blinded them to the truth.

• They were religious but their piety did not lead them to God.

• Religions cannot save us. Only God can. And they missed Him when He came.

"Father, forgive them…" Jesus said.

• He could be praying for the priests who sold Him out, who bribed Judas with thirty silver coins.

• He could be praying for the Jewish crowd who had cried, "Crucify him, crucify him" at the trial.

• Or He could even be thinking about His own followers - one betrayed Him, one denied him, and the rest abandoned him in the hour of his greatest need. Having been with Him for more than 3 years, the Lord expected more from them.

"Father, forgive them…" Jesus said.

• All these people were guilty, in a sense. They were involved. They caused it.

• But the Bible tells us there are more.

These people were just a handful of people that represented a sinful mankind.

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