Summary: The first in a series on the seven sayings of Christ on the cross.

A person’s last words are important. We hang on to the dying words of those closest to us. We pass on the final words of great leaders for the next generation. It’s as if we are waiting for them to sum everything up in a few final statements.

Some are famous:

Nathan Hale (1755-1776) – "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Romeo – “Here’s to my love! O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”

Richard III – "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse."

Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) – "You too, Brutus?"

Some are obvious:

Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician (1707-1783) – "I die."

Luther Burbank (1849 – 1926) renowned botanist – "I don’t feel good."

Some are ironic:

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939) actor – "Never felt better."

General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) – "They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist--."

Some are quirky:

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (1755-1793) – “Pardon me, sir." (on stepping on the foot her exectioner)

John “Doc” Holliday (1851-1887) – "This is funny."

P.T. Barnum – “How were the circus receipts in Madison Square Gardens?”

Pancho Villa (1878-1923) – "Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

Some are humorous:

Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922) Irish nationalist – "Take a step forward, lads. It will be easier that way."

James Rogers – "Why yes, a bullet proof vest." (When asked, “Any last requests?”)

Conrad N. Hilton (1887-1979) – "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub."

Saint Lawrence (?-258) – "Turn me. I am roasted on one side."

John Holmes (1812-1899) – "John Rogers did."

Holmes was a U.S. lawyer and brother of O.W. Holmes. Quiet and motionless on deathbed for a long period of time, those assembled in the room suspected that he had died. A nurse checked his pulse, found none, and announced that she would feel his feet to see if they were warm, "If they are, he’s alive. Nobody ever died with warm feet." "John Rogers did," Holmes replied. Rogers was a Prot. martyr who had been burned at the stake.

As he was dying on the cross, Jesus Christ made a few final statements – seven to be exact – that deserve our attention.

• Seven statements from a dying man to a dying world.

• Seven statements that provide insight to a generation searching for answers.

• Seven statements that reveal the heart of the Savior.

These seven statements take place in the context of the cross on which Jesus died.

>>> Background of trials and crucifixion

And as he hangs on the cross, Jesus makes seven final statements before his death.

The first three take place between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon:

1. “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34)

2. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

3. “Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)

From noon to 3:00 p.m., there was darkness over the land. Then at about 3:00, Jesus uttered his final words:

4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

5. “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

7. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

As we examine these seven statements, we must look at them in context of the story – the story of God’s love for us and our need for Him. In this story, the cross is the means for our reconciliation with God. The cross is about sin / payment / forgiveness. It’s about grace / mercy / love.

Today >> “Father, forgive them.”

Luke 23:32-34

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (NIV)

As sinners, we are God’s enemies (Rom. 5:10). Yet in this state, God provides a way. In this state, Christ made the payment for our sin. And in the state, we see Jesus do something amazing: he prays. In the depth of pain/anguish/misery – he prays.

He didn’t pray for relief / “get me outta here” / “smite my enemies” / “lead, guide, and direct”

In Christ’s example:

• He prays for his enemies

Scholars have debated whom Jesus was praying for: the Romans / the Jews / the world

But to enter the debate is to miss the point. The debate doesn’t matter – all were against him. And yet when he was hurting most – when those who abused him were standing before him mocking him – when those closest to him were nowhere to be found – he prayed.

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