Summary: Sin is universal! When Jesus said, Father, forgive them... just what was He asking the Father to do...and is there any connection with us in the 21st century?
Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 (NIV)
Menelik was the king of Ethiopia from 1899 to 1913. He heard about a new device that could be used for dealing with hardened criminals, so he ordered one. When his new electric chair arrived he was severely disappointed that it wouldn’t work. It seems that Ethiopia would not have electricity for many more years. But Menelik was determined not to waste such an elaborate purchase -- he turned the thing into a throne. 
Another instrument of death was once a throne. It was located on a hill just outside the city gates of Jerusalem, and it also supported a king. This cross was for the forgiveness of the entire world. The great preacher, George Buttrick is credited with the saying: A cross was raised to silence the blasphemy that forgiveness is easy.
The people who gathered around that cross needed forgiveness. The thieves crucified with Jesus, the soldiers and religious leaders who had him killed all needed forgiveness. Even the disciples, disillusioned and doubting, needed the prayer of forgiveness; even his loving mother, Mary!
Sin is universal! When Jesus said, Father, forgive them... just what was He asking the Father to do...and is there any connection with us in the 21st century?
See the cross of forgiveness:
FORGIVENESS IS MORE THAN
BEING LET OFF THE HOOK…
IT’S THE RESTORING OF RELATIONSHIP
Humanly speaking, we cannot forgive like God. After the close of the War Between the States, Richmond was being occupied by Union troops. An elderly Virginia lady slipped and fell while walking down the street. A Union soldier gallantly rushed to her aid. As he helped her up, she glanced at that hated blue uniform; Thank you very much, sir. That’s kind of you, she said. If there’s a cool spot in Hell, I hope you get it.
God’s forgiveness is such that no matter how bad the sin (war) is that separates you from Him – when He forgives you He does it with a smile on His face, and open arms.
Jesus told the story of a prodigal son – arrogant, willful, wanting the fast lane. He took an early buyout on his inheritance and headed for the big easy. Jesus made sure to show us the waiting Father back at the farm, scanning the horizon for the wayward son. He was ready to forgive, ready to restore the relationship.
The prayer from the cross was the fleshing out of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Love your enemies). Jesus practiced what He preached.
FORGIVENESS IS FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT
The thieves reacted differently to Jesus’ prayer. One hardened himself and joined the crowd’s railing. The other softened and put his life in Christ’s hands. Why? Why not? Do you recall Isaiah’s statement? He saw the Lord high and lifted up...and it caused Isaiah to fall prostrate and declare his own sinfulness. When Peter saw the power of Jesus he begged Him to depart. When people see the true Jesus -- king of kings, lord of lords -- it is not long before we must see our own need.