Summary: The last words of an individual can give you a great insight into a person. Jesus’ last words gives us a window to view eternity. Based on several sermons. Most original, some not!
FATHER, FORGIVE THEM
Text: Luke 23:33-38
I doubt any of us have every witnessed an execution. I would imagine all of us have read about them in the newspaper. The accounts are very similar, because the State of Texas is very systematic about how and when executions are carried out.
According to most reports, most of the people sentenced to death—after all their appeals are exhausted—are given an execution date assigned by the judge. A few hours before that execution time, the condemned is moved to a special unit in Huntsville.
Sometimes they’re permitted to speak with family or friends—sometimes they’re provided with a religious person, such as the prison Chaplin. They are all given a last meal of their choosing, provided it’s not too far out and the prison has the food available.
The newspaper account of the execution is fairly standard—it tells us who they saw, what they did, what they ate, and if they prayed with a religious person.
As I keep reading the account of a state execution, I’m still trying to get to the part I’m really interested in—and not just me, but most people.
The part we really want to know is this….when the prisoner was strapped onto the gurney, and before the lethal dose of drugs is given, what were the prisoner’s “last words”? What is the last thing he had to say in this life?
Some prisoners may not give a final statement…others have said a variety of things. They might say, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault!” Others might express their love for their families or express remorse for putting them through the terrible events. Some have apologized to the families of their victims and ask for their forgiveness.
What did they say?
It seems that the thing we really want to know is, during the execution process, what was the last thing he said in this life?
The last words of an individual might not come at his execution. Rather, it may come from a person in his own bed or hospital bed while surrounded by his family; and, sometimes these words are very precious to the people involved.
A person’s final words can be very revealing. Like an x-ray, they will expose the heart or mind of the dying person. Some people’s last words have become very famous.
I was not surprised to learn what the last words of P.T. Barnum, the great circus showman, were. His last words were recorded as being, “What were today’s receipts?”
Now, some people’s last words are full of wisdom and great insight. The final words of Alexander the Great were, “When I die, thrust my hands through my death shroud so the world may see that my hands are empty.” I guess he wanted everybody to know he wasn’t taking anything with him!
The Greatest Final Words.
---33---“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
---34---But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
---35---And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’
---36---The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,
---37---and saying, ‘If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!’
---38---Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Of all the final words spoken, none are more precious or more revealing—filled with more meaning and wisdom—than those final words spoken by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In a real sense, those last seven (7) statements are “Windows” that enable us to look into eternity and see the heart of the Savior as well as the heart of the Gospel.
When we study the meaning of those 7 statements, we can better understand why Jesus came into the world, why He did what He did, and why He died as He died.
In order for us to fully grasp the importance of Jesus’ final words, we must remember how He died. These words are significant, not just because of who said them, but also from where they were spoken.
You see, Jesus uttered those last words, not from a hospital bed or His own bed at home. No, His powerful last words were uttered as He was being crucified by Roman soldiers, at the insistence of the Jewish religious leaders.
Crucifixion during the days of the Roman Empire differs in two (2) major ways from executions today.
The first major difference is that today’s executions are, for the most part, private events. They are not televised or viewed by the general public. A few family, or perhaps friends, or the victim’s family members are permitted to witness the execution.