'Father, Forgive Them'

Note from JesusDear Child of God,

Few things are more difficult for My beloved followers to read than the account of My crucifixion. In the verses below, this is what you will find:I was crucified as a criminal, among criminals.As I died, the soldiers at the foot of My naked and battered body gambled to see who could take home my clothes.The religious authorities who were supposed to support My faith and give Me comfort, mocked Me.Calloused soldiers joined in mocking Me and teasing Me with sour wine for My parched throat and My dehydrated body.Soldiers mocked My identity as King of the Jews and then challenged Me to free myself.The soldiers nailed an inscription at the top of My cross. The inscription said “This is the King of the Jews!” and was intended as derision and sarcasm. It was written in the three primary languages of the region.One dying criminal joined in the derision, mocking, and ridicule.Darkness descended and “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”With all that was going on that was awful and sub-human, notice the touches of grace that redeem this story into a message of hope, mercy, love, forgiveness, and redemption:My prayer of forgiveness for those murdering Me: “Father, forgive them.”My promise to the believing criminal crucified with Me: “I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.”The Centurion’s words of faith after seeing everything that happened at the cross: “No doubt, this man must have been innocent.”Joseph of Arimathea, “a good and fair man,” who had objected to the plans and actions of the other religious leaders, asked Pilate for My body and gave Me a proper burial.The women, the only group that stayed with Me through the whole ordeal of My passion, made preparations to complete My proper burial after the Sabbath had passed.Some of you who read this are going through your own time of testing. You find yourself in what feels like deepest darkness. You could be facing this darkness because of your own mistakes. You could be facing this darkness because of what others have done to you. You could even be facing this darkness because you have to say goodbye to someone incredibly precious to you, and you wonder why your miracle never came.

The Father put My cross in the middle of such deep darkness so that you could know with certainty this important truth: there is not a place I won’t go to reach you and share the Father’s love with you. The cross was a Roman tool of subjugation — to put fear into the hearts of people. It was designed to be a tool of public humiliation and, at this time, was reserved for only the worst of crimes and the lowest of criminals. Crucifixion was dehumanizing. Use of crucifixion was awful. My cross was awful — awful for Me and awful for the Father. My cross was Satan’s apparent moment of triumph and hell’s greatest moment of delight.

Some of you feel that is where you live right now — at that intersection of Awful-to-God and Hell’s-Delight. You see no end, no answer, no hope, and no one to save you. That’s one reason My crucifixion is so important. It is a reminder that I chose to share that horrible address — the intersection of Awful-to-God and Hell’s-Delight — with you to redeem you out of that place with My grace. The cross reminds you that I know your sense of pain, isolation, rejection, and misery. I endured these things so that you could know that you are not alone when you find yourself in such awful and hellish circumstances.

At the same time, the touches of grace in this awful scene provide you with a reminder that in the worst of places, where you meet inhumanity and hell’s fury, God’s grace steps in and redeems the worst of messes even in the deepest darkness. Forgiveness is given. Grace is extended. Faith is declared. Kindness is shown. Faithfulness is demonstrated. Such is the power of My cross — the cross I bore so you could know that there is never a place My love won’t go to find you and bring you safely back to the Father.Verses to LiveThe verses below show some of the horrors of My crucifixion but also reveal touches of grace that remind you why I endured this awful and humiliating death. Please don’t forget that what happened at the cross was more than just a bunch of angry people killing the Messiah from heaven. The events recounted here are the story of the greatest grace ever shown. I gave Myself as a sacrificial offering for the sin of the world — for your sin — so that you can be forgiven and reconciled back to the Father!Jesus wasn’t the only one being crucified that day. There were two others, criminals, who were also being led to their execution. When they came to the place known as “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, in the company of criminals, one to the right of Jesus and the other to His left.

Jesus:Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.Meanwhile, they were drawing lots to see who would win Jesus’ clothing. The crowd of people stood, watching.

Authorities (mocking Jesus):So He was supposed to rescue others, was He? He was supposed to be God’s Anointed, the Liberating King? Let’s see Him start by liberating Himself!The soldiers joined in the mockery. First, they pretended to offer Him a soothing drink — but it was sour wine.

Soldiers:Hey, if You’re the King of the Jews, why don’t You free Yourself!Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him — “This is the King of the Jews!” This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.

Cynical Criminal:You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well — do it! Rescue Yourself and us!But the other criminal told him to be quiet.

Believing Criminal:Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is! We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all! (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.Jesus:I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.

Jesus (shouting out loudly):Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!And with those words, He exhaled — and breathed no more.

The Centurion — one of the soldiers who performed the execution — saw all this, and he praised God.

Centurion:No doubt, this man must have been innocent.The crowds of common people who had gathered and watched the whole ordeal through to its conclusion left for their homes, pounding on their own chests in profound grief. And all who knew Jesus personally, including the group of women who had been with Him from the beginning in Galilee, stood at a distance, watching all of these things unfold.

Meanwhile a man named Joseph had been at work. He was a member of the council, a good and fair man, from a Judean town called Arimathea. He had objected to the plans and actions of the council; he was seeking the kingdom of God. He had gone to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He removed the body from the cross and wrapped it in a shroud made of fine linen. He then laid the body in a cavelike tomb cut from solid rock, a tomb that never had been used before. It was Preparation Day — the day before the holy Sabbath — and it was about to begin at sundown. The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required.
(Luke 23:32-56)Response in PrayerO Father, with the old hymn I proclaim that “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”[NOTE] In Jesus’ name and because of His sacrifice, I thank You for Your amazing grace. Amen.

[NOTE] These words come from the song “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts and Norman J. Clayton.’A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware. © 1998-2022, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus’ is part of the Heartlight Network.All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

'Father, Forgive Them'
Source: Passion for Praise