This is the first of a series of seven short meditations to help us prepare for Easter. In a weeks’ time many of us will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But before the resurrection came crucifixion. Jesus is recorded as having spoken seven sayings from the cross . They help us understand what he accomplished through his death. I thought I’d summarise each one over the next seven days so that they might stimulate our appreciation of, our affection for and our adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first word he uttered was a word of forgiveness. Look at Luke 23:34
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus spoke a word of forgiveness when he said ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’. His words do not absolve the Jews or the Romans of their responsibility for his death. Instead, they show us that they did not fully understand the extent of their wicked act. They were crucifying the divine Son of God, though they didn’t realise it. For his part, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. He longed that whatever wrong they’d committed against him would be permanently erased from their moral record. In so doing he fulfilled his own teaching about forgiving his enemies. In a few moments’ time he was about to die as the atonement for sins. He would become the basis upon which forgiveness would be secured. And so, in these words, we see Jesus’ utter commitment to forgiving sinners, even his own murderers. They remind us that Jesus’ death is the means of our forgiveness. There is no pardon for our sin apart from his death.
Therefore, will you let his death be the means of your forgiveness?