Summary: Jesus’ 1st cry from the cross and the forgiveness available to us.
WHAT MOVED THE HEART OF JESUS?
Part 1: The cry of forgiveness
For some time now, we have been hearing about Mel Gibson’s new movie, The Passion of the Christ, the biblical account of the last hours of Christ’s earthly life. Some in our church have even seen it already. The reviews of the movie had been mixed. Some claim it is too violent and graphic, though I believe it accurately depicts what occurred in the last hours of Jesus’ life. Some claim it is anti-Semitic, though the producer filmed his own hand nailing Jesus to the cross because he said that he and all living are equally guilty in Jesus’ death. Others claim they believe it really happened, but that they share no responsibility in Jesus’ crucifixion.
This past Friday, there was a letter to the editor in the News-Journal from a woman in Port Orange named Madeleine Evans. After viewing the movie she wrote, “Personally, I have no problem believing what Jesus did, but I want no responsibility for it. I will pay for my own sins (I usually do), thank you very much. I would never want anyone to go through so much suffering for me.” [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 02/27/04, page 4a].
I truthfully believe that Jesus’ response to her claim would be very much like His response to the crowd when they told Pilate in Matthew 27:25 His blood be on us, and on our children. I believe Jesus would respond with His first cry from the cross, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.
There are those who believe that Jesus spoke only 7 times while He was on the cross, and there are others who believe that He recited entire chapters from the Old Testament. I am not sure which is correct, but in either case, God saw fit to record for us, 7 times that Jesus spoke in the midst of that pain. The Bible records 7 cries that moved the heart of Jesus, each of them important in our lives today. This morning I would like us to see together Jesus’ first word from the cross and see how it applies to us today.
> Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
In this prayer of Jesus, which came from those parched and innocent lips, we find three lessons which we must apply today.
I. GOD CAN BE TRUSTED
> Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
Centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus, God knew how Jesus would die. He knew Jesus would be hung “with transgressors”, between 2 thieves. God knew Jesus would pray for the transgressors, those who killed Him. None of this came as a surprise to God. So even in the midst of that pain and suffering Jesus never doubted that God loved Him as a Father. Hours before, Jesus had prayed that God would allow Him to avoid this if possible, but above all, He wanted God’s will to be completed.
Now, Jesus realized that God was still with Him. He still saw God’s hand at work, even in the midst of His suffering, so He called God “Father”.
Have you ever noticed how quickly people can turn on God? Have you ever noticed how quickly some people can begin to doubt, or question whether He exists, or give up on Him altogether, when a little trouble comes their way?
Part of the problem is the “name it and claim it” preaching going on out there, preachers who teach that if you are a Christian, God will keep the tears from your eyes and He will materially bless you. That would have been a surprise to David. Remember? He said, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” My friends, if you walk with Jesus, if He is your Lord and if God is your Father, there are going to be valleys in your life. There is going to be pain. There are going to be heartaches. God doesn’t promise to take them away. He promises to go through them with you and to use them for your good.
He doesn’t promise to keep you wealthy. Look at the apostles. Does it look like they died in the lap of luxury, or that they lived pain free lives? Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, imprisoned, snake bitten, and falsely accused; but he didn’t doubt the presence and goodness of God.
My friend, I don’t know what’s going on in your life. I don’t know what pain you’re enduring. I do know this however. Nothing surprises God. There are no emergency sessions in heaven, and you can trust Him in the midst of your trial.