JOURNEY TO EASTER: DAY 28
The last words of a dying loved one are remembered and treasured as some of the most important words spoken. On Good Friday, the Gospels record seven final sayings of Christ from the cross that believers have both cherished and been challenged with in processing their own struggles. No one Gospel contains all the last words of Christ from the cross. But a comparison of the narratives will reveal seven powerful statements that express Jesus’ humanity, love and grace. Let’s review Christ’s final words together this week and discover what truths they reveal. Here are the first two:
- “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NIV)
What a striking expression for one so unfairly treated! Falsely accused, wrongfully sentenced to die and cruelly beaten, Jesus’ first words from the cross are:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
It’s unimaginable to me that Jesus could offer a word of forgiveness to those who were crucifying Him. It’s also difficult to believe what Jesus said about those who were behind it all, that they did not know what they were doing. It appeared that they knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t really seem to care either. Yet as one pastor put it, “His words are probably the most descriptive truth about all human sin…. Even when sin is calculated, planned thoroughly, conceived carefully, and executed efficiently, no one really understands the depth or dimension of sin’s destructiveness or the degree of its horrible damage to people. In a very real sense, every sin is a sin of ignorance.” With that truth in mind and Calvary’s love in my heart, I can learn the grace of forgiveness as well.
In a real sense, it was my sin that put Him on the cross. He died for each one of us so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. As I consider Jesus’ first words from Calvary, I’m convicted to forgive just as I have been forgiven.
- “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT)
Jesus’ first words did not go unnoticed by the two thieves crucified next to Him. At least one of them sought that forgiveness he so desperately needed. Imagine the comfort those words brought that dying thief suspended on a cross next to Jesus. Luke records the exchange between the thieves on either side of Christ and the heart cry of one of them.
“One of the criminals hanging beside Him scoffed, ‘So You’re the Messiah, are You? Prove it by saving Yourself–and us, too, while You’re at it!’ But the other criminal protested. ‘Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’” Luke 23:39-42 (TLB)
I love the response that Jesus gave this dying thief. He said,
“I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT)
It’s never too late to seek God! His grace looks beyond all my faults and failures into my heart and accepts me just as I am; then, He offers me fellowship with Him! “… today you will be with me in paradise.” His acceptance assures me of forgiveness. That’s the good news of the Gospel of Jesus! You can be forgiven! Celebrate your forgiveness in Christ, and share it with someone else as you invite them to an Easter service at Woodlands Church beginning this Thursday, March 29th! Visit our website for service times!