33 “When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His garments by casting lots.”
As we look closer at the first shout of the Savior: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” we discover several significant truths about Christ’s cry from the cross. The first truth we see is:
- The fulfillment of prophecy.
In Isaiah 53 we see several significant statements about the suffering of the Savior. We need to keep in mind that these statements were prophesied by Isaiah over 700 years before Jesus was even born.
He would be despised and rejected by men (3)
He would be a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (3)
He would be afflicted by God because of our sins (4, 8)
He would be pierced for our transgressions (5)
He would be wounded and bruised by men (7)
He would be led like a lamb to slaughter and be silent before His accusers (7)
He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (9)
He would a guilt offering (10)
He would be numbered with the transgressors (12)
He would pray for those transgressors (12)
As Jesus prayed for the Father to forgive them, He was fulfilling a precise prophecy from Isaiah 53:12: “For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” There are two benefits and blessings from the fulfillment of prophecy, first it helps us to see that Jesus is the promised Savior and second it helps us to believe the Bible. Next Christs cry from the cross shows us:
- The blindness and hardness of the human heart.
Jesus prayer reveals that those who crucified Him did not really have a clue as to what they were doing. While they understood fully what they meant when they cried out, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him,” they were ignorant to the enormity of their crime. What they failed to understand was that they were crucifying Christ the king of Glory. Yet their ignorance was their own fault because all of the prophecies pointed to the truth. Also His teaching was profound and filled with words of wisdom and authority which pointing to who he was. Then there were the may miracles that should have convinced them. Or His perfect life of love that should have removed any doubt and skepticism about His identity. Just like them we also have no excuse, because we all have something in our system called sin. We may want to plead ignorance and make excuses, but ignorance is not the same thing as innocence. Romans 1:20 says, “…that men are without excuse.” We want to make excuses or justify our sin, or judge ourselves as better than others because their sin seems worse than ours. But God has a zero tolerance for sin, He doesn’t grade on a curve but on a cross. In Acts 3:17 Peter revealed that those who were responsible for the death of Christ had acted in ignorance and that while the death of Jesus had fulfilled prophecy people still needed to respond with repentance: 17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” It’s not enough just to recognize our sin we need to repent of our sin. Jesus doesn’t pray “Father just forget about what they are doing” no He specifically request “forgiveness” because they were responsible for their actions and needed the Fathers forgiveness. Just like them we too are in need of forgiveness, so that we can be released from our debt to a holy God. Not only does it show us our blind and hard hearts but it reveals:
- The seriousness of our sin
Because our hearts are blind we often fail to see the poverty and seriousness of our need. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness not just those who were involved in His crucifixion. Yet many of us don’t see ourselves as sinners, because all we can see is the sin of others. What most of us do is to castigate others for their sins while excusing our own behavior. This shows up on both a personal and national level as we refer to people in other countries as “evil” while deceiving ourselves with our own national self-righteousness. Several years ago the USA referred to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the “Axis of Evil,” but the truth is that the real axis of evil is really me, myself, and I. We have to stop kidding ourselves into believing that sin is out there, because the truth is it isn’t out there it’s in us. Not only does Christs cry from the cross reveal the seriousness of sin but also:
- The identification of Jesus.
Here on the cross we see Jesus call out to the Father to forgive, which is significant because up until now He had forgiven the sins of others without asking for the Father to do so. Like in Matthew 9:2where we read the words: “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” So why does He now ask the Father to forgive their sins instead of directly pronouncing forgiveness Himself? Because Jesus as the sacrificial lamb is about to give His life as the sin substitute. His death is payment for the penalty of sin, not just a down payment, or partial payment but the full payment. So He pleads with the Father to accept the sacrifice of His blood on our behalf. When He ministered on earth He had the power and authority to forgive people their sins because He knew that on the cross their sins would be dealt with. Here on the cross we see Him interceding for hard-hearted people by pleading for the Father to accept His sacrifice blood as He lays down His life for us. The One who needed no forgiveness died so that we who are condemned without it could be forgiven. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He not only pleaded our case, He took our punishment. So what are you going to do with your forgiveness? Are you going to hold onto it, refusing to share the Saviors sacrifice, or hold it out to others and use it to heal?