Summary: Considering the words of Christ from the cross
Lk. 23.34 “From the Cross” pt. 1
1. Seven times Jesus speaks from the cross. And each time He says something meaningful and significant. Of course, Jesus isn’t the kind of person to just be caught talking, saying anything that comes to mind. Whenever Jesus speaks, it is significant, but especially here. For those who were there that day, who watched Jesus hanging on the cross, they believed these were the last words that anyone would hear from Him. Jesus was hanging on a cross. People didn’t survive that. The cross meant death. After death was a burial. So for those who watched Him die, especially the religious leaders, this was the end of Him. There was no resurrection. Not in the way that Jesus would do it but I’m getting ahead of myself. So for those who watched Jesus hang on the cross, they believed they were hearing Him speak for the last time. For the next seven weeks, we will be listening to Christ’s final words from the cross. We will be considering what He said to those who were around Him as He hung on the cross, and I believe, as God speaks to us, we will find some meaning in these words for us during this Lenten Season.
2. [Play CD] Now, first, let’s do a quick review, although not necessarily in order, of the events immediately preceding these words. First, Jesus was sold out by one of His own disciples with a kiss. For 30 pieces of silver, Judas was willing to turn Jesus over to the religious leaders, those hypocrites who had consistently been trying to trick Jesus and had been trying to get Him to admit He wasn’t who everyone thought He was. The disciples, those He had spent the most time with for the past three years all took off. Only one appears to have been anywhere near the cross when Christ died and we don’t even know how long He was there. Every single one of the men Christ had poured Himself into eventually took off. One of His followers He spent the most time with, poured Himself into, time after time, denied even knowing Him, three times and used such language that the Bible says, “He swore, I do not know Him.” He had been put up on fake trials, found guilty, whipped across the back, He stumbled under the weight of the cross, He had thorns on His head causing blood to flow into His face, mixed with sweat. The religious leaders who thought they were all right glared at Him and cheered as the crowd had been easily manipulated in asking for the release of a dangerous criminal and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He had spent several hours, perhaps the equivalent of several days, asking His Father if this were the only way. Especially as He knelt in the garden with His disciples who were too tired to wait with Him, He prayed and asked His Heavenly Father, to remove the burden and to figure out a different way to remove the sin of the world, “please Father, let this cup pass from me.” Yet, the Lord was clear. Christ’s death was His will. The crucifixion, the pain and sacrifice Christ endured was the will of God.
3. Literally everyone had turned their backs on Jesus. If there was any time that Jesus must have felt completely and totally deserted, it was as He hung on that cross. Now, how would you feel? How do you feel when you feel totally deserted? When you feel like all your friends have really become your enemies? How do you feel when you believe you are on your own and even God isn’t listening to you but His will is to have you suffer? What sort of things come out of your mouth. What kinds of things do you say?
4. Knowing myself well enough, I know that one of the things I would definitely not say is, “Father, forgive them.” I couldn’t say it. I would be too full of anger and bitterness and resentment. If I had the power, I would probably zap a few people. I would want to jump off the cross and run as far away as possible. I would make a terrible Savior. And so would you.
5. Hanging on the cross, completely deserted, feeling completely alone, Jesus cries out, “Father, forgive them.” And if that’s not enough, He adds, “They know not what they do.” And I have to tell you, that I have been really struggling with that phrase. They don’t know what they are doing? Seriously. It seems to me that these who put Jesus on the cross knew exactly what they were doing. They used the system to their advantage, they manipulated people. They used money to bribe one of His own followers. I’m sure they knew what they were doing.