Summary: TRODUCTION: Words are important. We use words to communicate with our friends and family. Business men and women use words to transact business deals. Politicians use words to convince you that they’re the best one for the job. Words are a huge part of every aspect of our lives.
Words are important. We use words to communicate with our friends and family. Business men and women use words to transact business deals. Politicians use words to convince you that they’re the best one for the job. Words are a huge part of every aspect of our lives.
The average person says about 16,000 words a day. Women are on the high side of the 16,000 words and men on the lower side. But, on the average, that’s 112,000 words every week per person. That’s over five million words every year. And if you live three score and 10 that is 350 million words. Truth is we have a lot to say and we say it.
And let’s be honest, because we know people talk and talk and have a lot of words in them, we don’t handle very carefully what they say sometimes. If you don’t think that is true, when was the last time you asked someone their name, and you could not remember it ten minutes later. Or, remember when your spouse said: do you remember what I told you a few minutes ago, and you have no idea what he or she said.
But there is an exception. When we know that a person is dying, we pay very close attention to their final words. We feel like those are going to be the most important words of their life. During the hours Jesus spent nailed to the cross, the Lord spoke seven times, His final words, and we, as Christians, we need to come to the cross and pay very close attention to what He is telling us just like we would one of our love ones who is near death. So, for the next seven weeks, we have going to look at the final words of Jesus as He hung from the cross. If you have your Bible turn with me to Luke 23:32-37.
Luke 23:32-37 (NIV)
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." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar
37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
The very first words spoken from the cross instructs us how to forgive. We all have a need to learn how to forgive one another or we will find that our world will keep growing smaller and smaller. If you cannot forgive someone, it is like cutting them out of your world. You have nothing to do with them. And then someone else offends you and you don’t forgive them and so you cut them out of your life. Pretty soon, your world has shrunk because you haven’t learned how to forgive. Forgiveness expands your world. And so, Jesus, knowing this, calls all of us over to the cross and tells us that we need one more teaching moment on forgiveness before He takes His last breath.
FORGIVENESS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY, GETTING EVEN DOES. FORGIVENESS TAKES GOD’S POWER TO BE ABLE TO FORGIVE AND WE CAN ONLY GET THAT BY TALKING WITH THE FATHER. AND SO, JESUS’ LAST WORDS TEACH US IF WE ARE NOT GOOD AT PRAYING THEN WE WILL NOT BE GOOD AT FORGIVING.
It is interesting to me that on two occasions when Jesus is addressing the subject of forgiveness, it is found in the context of a prayer. The first time, the disciples are asking Jesus to teach them how to pray in Luke 11. And Jesus in that model prayer says: Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Prayer and forgiveness going hand and hand.
And today when Jesus is hanging on the cross once again dealing with forgiving, it is in the form of a prayer to the Father. “Father, forgive them.” Pray and forgiveness going hand and hand one more time.
So, what can we say based upon these two Scriptures? If you don’t like to pray, then you are not going to be good at forgiving. Or you can say it from the positive point of view. You show me a person who is a good prayer, and I will show you a person who is good at forgiving.
And the reasoning is simple. C.S. Lewis, the great lay theologian writer, probably puts it better than anybody: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because it changes me.”