Summary: Easter Series on the seven cries from the Cross. this first one deals with the first three about Jesus’ care and concern for others in His last hour.
A. Opening illustration: quote 1 Peter 5, emphasizing “…He cares for you,” in verse 7,
B. Background to passage: The cross is the centerpiece of salvation history, the linchpin upon which God’s glory hangs and our eternities with it. Upon the cross, Jesus made seven statements, and over the next couple of weeks we will look at them. They remind us of many things, but the first of which is He care for us. Acknowledge gratefulness to Erwin Lutzer’s book Cries from the Cross
C. Main thought: Jesus three cries from the cross related to others demonstrate His great care for us
A. His Care for His Enemies (v. 18:34)
1. Specifically, Jesus is praying for the Jews and Romans who were humanly responsible for crucifying Him. His heart was broken for the forgiveness of the people who were presently committing histories most horrendous crime. The Greek word for “said” is in the imperfect tense, therefore could be translated “kept on saying.” Jesus was continually interceding for His enemies just as He had commanded. He is asking God, His Father, to forgive their sin. His comment doesn’t absolve them from guilt, for we know that there were other forces at work to bring about the death of Christ; it simply acknowledges their ignorance of the fullness of the situation. This also points us to the fact that His act of dying on the cross is the means by which this Roman soldier becomes the first to believe and confess Christ.
2. Luk 6:35, James 4:4, Rom 5:6-8, 8:7,
3. Illustration: “Forgiveness seems like a marvelous idea, until you are the one that has to do it.” –Lutzer, Mel Gibson’s cameo in The Passion of the Christ, tell the story about the missionary who was witnessing to a Muslim for weeks, and he came and told the missionary that he wanted to be saved, and could they find a quiet place and pray, and when they bowed, the Muslim drew a knife and stabbed the missionary multiple times, and before he died, his son came in, and the missionary told him to find that man and tell him that he was forgiven, tell about the man who raped four women writing the pastor to ask if he could be forgiven,
4. His example to us is to pray for enemies, not after time has healed many wounds, but while the wounds are still open. What if we stopped right now, and went and found someone in the congregation who had wronged us, and bended a knee before them and sought the Lord on their behalf sincerely and passionately. There is nothing that should keep us from praying for another person—no wound too deep, no hurt too painful. But this must be done under the empowerment of the supernatural grace of the Spirit. And one of the messages to us is that if He could love those that murdered Him so, how much more us, who have never raised a hand or spit upon Him? Or have we? The bible does say that we are enemies of God. And therefore we have hope that no deed however heinous, no thought however impure, no attack of any evil minion could keep us from being forgiven, when we come to Him by faith, trusting in His death. There is no one here today that is beyond saving. We have all lifted a hand against Christ, and He still has prayed for us, because the love of God that neither tongue nor pen could ever proclaim adequately, breaks through sin, pours out wrath on Christ, and bids us come and trust God to forgive. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven for those that come to Christ by faith. Come to Him and receive God’s forgiveness.
B. His Care for Fellow Sufferer (v. 18:43)
1. During the final hours of his life, this thief who had lived his life in absolute rebellion, even up to the preceding minutes, has his heart opened up to Christ’s reality. Its really amazing because this was probably the lowest, least glorious (from a human perspective) time in his life. This is the time that He looks least like a Savior, and more like He needs saving. He begins to defend him indicating that he believes that Jesus is innocent, and that their condemnation is just. He expresses his newfound fear of God (being that he is about to meet Him), and asks Christ to remember Him in the kingdom. And Christ with the sweetest words for a crucified man declared that he would be with Him today in paradise. With must compassion, Christ affirms what is needed to be saved—faith in Christ as your only hope.