Summary: The first word from the cross is for forgiveness. In it, Jesus makes some key declarations.
1. Scripture Reading Before Sermon: Matthew 5.43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
• Jesus says to pray for those who persecute us
• What would that prayer sound like?
• It would be among the last words of Jesus
2. Last Words Worldly Vs. Godly
• There is a story about the opera tenor, Richard Versalle. During a performance, he climbed up a ladder for a special scene and sang these words; “Too bad you can only live so long.” Immediately after singing these words, Versalle fell from his ladder and died. He didn't plan it that way but those were his final words.
• William Saroyan was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer of plays, short stories, and novels whose works were noted for their sentimental optimism. Before his death in 1981, Saroyan telephoned his final words to the Associated Press. “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
• Humphrey Bogart said, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
• Charles Spurgeon – “Jesus died for me.”
• John Wesley – “The best of all, God is with us.”
• Judson Van DeVenter is the author of my favorite song, “I Surrender All.” In His final hours he could be heard whispering the words, “All to Jesus, I surrender.” He was so weak that when he spoke his final words, all he could muster to say was, I Surrender.
3. Luke 23.33-34
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
4. Three declarations from Jesus in this first of his last words
I. He Declares the Father
A. Jesus’ Address – 3/7 of the words from the cross address God two as “Father” and one sas “my God.”
B. Jesus’ Attention – Throughout His sufferings, Jesus focused on God
1. We tend to make things all about US
• MY Salvation
• MY feelings/opinions
2. [A non-Christian decided to convert one day because his son had been drafted into the Army and was about to go to war. He wanted God to hear his prayers for his son, so he “converted.” As it turned out, his son survived his time at war, but I wonder what would have happened if the son had been killed in combat????
3. Jesus addressed God as “My Father” and “Our Father”
II. He Declares the Forgiveness of God
A. Continual Intercession (Hebrews 7.25)
1. The Greek indicates this was a repeated phrase
• Laid on Cross
• Nailed to Cross
• Lifted up
• Hanging on Cross
2. He could have prayed for Judgment but prayed for forgiveness
B. A Matter of Fulfillment
1. Prophecy of Isaiah 53.12
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
2. Message He preached – Matthew 6.12 ;18.35 (forgive from heart)
C. Let’s pause and make an application – In light of Jesus on the cross, what should we do when we are mistreated? Have a FORGIVING spirit; make intercession
III. He Declares the Foolishness of Men
A. Not an Automatic Forgiveness in Our Ignorance – Acts 3.17
B. He Points Out Our Ignorance of Who He Is
1. Prophesy, who hit you? – Luke 22.64
2. King of Jews? Save yourself! – Luke 23.37
C. He Points Out the Ignorance of Our Actions
1. Jewish leaders may have thought they were defending the faith – actually defending their own way of life
2. Jewish leaders thought they had a license to be mean-spirited
3. Jewish leaders did not recognize scriptures