Summary: Our Lord was at that moment enduring the first pains of crucifixion; --the executioners had just driven the nails through His hands and feet. He must have been, moreover, greatly depressed, and brought into a condition of extreme weakness by the agony
Pastor Allan Kircher
Shell Point Baptist Church
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Our Lord was at that moment enduring the first pains of crucifixion;
--the executioners had just driven the nails through His hands and feet.
He must have been, moreover, greatly depressed, and brought into a condition of extreme weakness by the agony of the night in Gethsemane.
And by the scourging and cruel mocking He endured through the morning from Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, and the Praetorian guards.
Yet neither the weakness of the past, nor the pain of the present, could prevent Him from continuing in prayer.
The Lamb of God was silent to men, but He was not silent to God.
He had not a word to say to His own defense to man, but He continues in His heart crying unto His Father.
No pain and no weakness can silence His holy supplications.
What an example our Lord presents to us!
Let us continue in prayer so long as our heart beats;
Let no excess of suffering drive us away from the throne of grace, but rather let it drive us closer to it.
Today we use our crucified Savior in this example.
Our blessed Redeemer was persevered in prayer even when the cruel iron pierced His tender nerves.
Blow after blow of the hammer jarred His whole frame with anguish
His perseverance may be accounted for by the fact that He was so much in habit of prayer that He could not cease from it.
He had acquired a mighty velocity of intercession which prevented Him to pause.
Those long nights upon the cold mountain side, those many days which had been spent in solitude, those perpetual prayers which He darted up to heaven,
All these had formed in Him a habit so powerful, so intense, so cleansing that it would prepare Him for the severest torments that could not shake Him.
Yet is was more than habit, our Lord was baptized in the spirit of prayer;
He lived it; it lived in Him, it had come to be an element of His nature.
Prayer enwrapped His very soul as with a garment, and His heart went forth in such array.
I repeat it, let this be our example—never, under any circumstances, however severe the trial, or depressing the difficulty, let us cease to prayer.
In Gethsemane, when His bloody sweat fell fast upon the ground,
His bitterest cry commenced with, “My Father,” asking that if it were possible the chalice pass from him;
He pleaded His Father, over and over again on that dark night.
O that the Spirit that makes us cry, “Abba, Father,” never cease His activity in our soul!
May we never be brought into spiritual bondage by the suggestion, “If thou be the Son of God”;
Or if the tempter should assail us, may we triumph as Jesus did in the hungry wilderness.
May the Spirit which cries, “Abba, Father,” repel each unbelieving fear.
When we are chastened, as we must be, may we be in loving subjection to the Father and live;
may we never become captives to the spirit of bondage, so that we doubt the love of our gracious Father.
More remarkable, however, is the fact that our Lord’s prayer to His Father was not for himself,
He continued on the cross to pray for himself, it is true, and His lamentable cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” shows the personality of His prayer.
But the first of the seven great cries on the cross was hardly even an indirect reference to himself.
It is, “Father, forgive them.”
The petition is altogether for others.
He does not say, “I forgive them—that is taken for granted.
Jesus seems to lose sight of the fact that they were doing any wrong to Him.
It is the wrong which they were doing to the Father that is on His mind, the insult which they are paying to the Father, in the person of the Son.
He thinks not of himself at all.
The cry, “Father, forgive them,” is altogether unselfish.
What a soul of compassion was in the Crucified!
How Godlike the divine!
Was there ever such a one before him, who, even in the very pangs of death, offers as His first prayer an intercession for others?
Let this unselfish spirit be in you also brothers and sisters.
Love your neighbors as yourselves, just as Christ has set before you this epitome of unselfishness, seek to follow him, treading in His steps.
There is a crowning jewel in this diadem of glorious love.
As the Righteousness of the Sun set upon Calvary that evening in its wondrous splendor,
As the bright colors which glorify His departure gleamed,
His prayer was not alone for others, but it was for His cruelest of enemies.