Independence Baptist Church
P. O. Box 70 124 South Main Foristell, Missouri 63348 636-673-2180 February 2001
The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross
The First Saying Ė The word of Forgiveness
By Wayne Reynolds, Pastor
Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know what that they do."
The first word Jesus spoke as he hung on the cross was a prayer of forgiveness. Jesus opened His public ministry with prayer, Luke 3:21, and here we find Jesus praying for people who are hardened sinners. It doesnít look as though they will ever be saved; but they were, Acts 2:22-23, 37-41. These verses prove that we need to pray for everyone, regardless of whom they are or what they do. Jesus said, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Isaiah 53:12 records the prophecy that Jesus would pray for those that strive to harm him. Isaiah 53 records at least ten things about the sufferings of Christ on the cross.
Verse 3 - He should be despised and rejected of men;
Verse 4 - that he should be wounded, bruised and acquainted with grief;
Verse 5 - that he should be wounded, bruised and chastised;
Verse 6 - that He would be led, unresisting, to the slaughter;
Verse 7 - that He should be dumb before His shearers;
Verse 8-10 - that He should not only suffer at the hands of man, but also be bruised by the Lord;
Verse 12 - that He should pour out His soul unto death;
Verse 9 - that he should be buried in a rich manís tomb.
In verse 12, it was added that He should be numbered with the transgressors, and then
Verse 12 - prayed for our salvation (made intercession for the transgressors).
Jesus did not forgive sins on the cross. His Father did. Jesus was still God, but He was paying for our sins. Jesus, in the "man" role, was our substitute on the cross of Calvary. Compare Matthew 9:6 and John 12:32. Jesus was paving the way for the full and eternally complete forgiveness of sin when He died on the cross.
Can Jesus forgive sins? Yes, through His Father, based on the willingness of the Son to bear those sins on the cross. In Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus healed the man with palsy. Jesus said to him, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." Some of the scribes didnít like what Jesus said, because they believed that only God could forgive sins. They didnít realize, of course, that Jesus is God. So the people would know that Jesus could forgive invisible sins, Jesus gave a visible sign by saying to the man with palsy, "Arise, take up thy bed and go unto thine house."
If Jesus was not in the position to forgive sins on the cross, how could He have saved the soul of the thief on the cross? (Luke 23:39-43) Notice the difference in the two. For His enemies, Jesus prayed that God would "forgive their sins." For the thief on the cross, Christ simply stated a fact. God saves through the blood of Jesus. The thief was saved while on the cross, but the enemies of Christ were not saved until some 47 days later, on the Day of Pentecost. Christ prayed that His enemies might be saved when the gospel was preached to them.
"They know not what they do." Men need to be forgiven of sins even though they are ignorant of their sins. The people that crucified Christ knew they were killing a man that called himself God, but they did not realize that Jesus was the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Atonement must be made for sins of ignorance, Leviticus 5:15,16 Numbers 15:22-25. Both Leviticus and Numbers speak of the sacrifice that should be given when a soul sins through ignorance. Psalms 19:12 declares, "Cleanse me from secret faults."
Jesus practiced what He preached. Matthew 5:44 states, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Christ did not personally forgive His enemies of their sins, but He did pray for them. God was ready to forgive them as soon as they asked. This is exactly what we are supposed to do. If our enemies ask our forgiveness, certainly we should forgive them, but if they donít ask us to forgive them, we should still pray that God may forgive them. We must understand that our enemies will stand before God in judgment. We should have compassion on their wicked souls, like Christ has compassion on our wicked souls. Sometimes we forget the "big picture," believing our enemies have wronged us more than they have wronged God.
Nobody can be saved without the blood of Christ. Mankind is blind to its natural spiritual state. We can have friends, money, the very best of everything, but if we have not the forgiveness of sins, we have hell for our eternal home.
The first word of Luke 23:34 is "Then." Read verse 33, and read again Isaiah 53. After man had done his worst to Christ, Christ prayed for them. He might have uttered awful curses upon them, or let loose thunderbolts of wrath upon them, or caused the earth to swallow them, or called down legions of angels to destroy them, or gotten down off the cross and killed them himself. Though Christ was suffering shame, and much pain, despised, rejected, and hated, He cried "Father, forgive them." This is the kind of love described in I Cor. 13:4. When Stephen died, Acts 7:59-60, he asked God to forgive his murderers, but he took care of his own needs first, and then prayed for his enemies. Christ prayed for his enemies first.
Learn to Listen
Midnight phone calls stir a motherís heart. We all know what itís like to get that phone call in the middle of the night. This night was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red, illuminated numbers of my clock.
Midnight. Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver. "Hello?" My heart pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my side of the bed.
"Mama?" The voice answered. I could hardly hear the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. When the desperate sound of a young crying voice became clear on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.
"Mama, I know itís late. But donít . . . donít say anything until I finish. And before you ask, yes Iíve been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and . . ."
I drew in a sharp, shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something wasnít right.
"I got so scared. All I could think of was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said Iíd been killed. I want ... to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know youíve been worried sick. I should have called you days ago but I was afraid . . . afraid . . ."
Staying on the line, sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughterís face in my mind, and my fogged senses seemed to clear, "I think ---"
"No! Please let me finish! Please!" she pleaded, not so much in anger, but in desperation. I paused and tried to think what to say. Before I could go on, she continued. "Iím pregnant, Mama. I know I shouldnít be drinking now, especially now, but Iím scared, Mama. So scared!" The voice broke again, and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture.
I looked up at my husband, who sat silently mouthing, "Who is it?" I shook my head and when I didnít answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning seconds later with a portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she asked, "Are you still there? Please donít hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone." I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. "Iím here, I wouldnít hang up," I said.
"I should have told you, Mama. I know I should have told you. But, when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You donít listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my feelings arenít important. Because youíre my mother you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I donít need answers. I just want someone to listen."
I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. "Iím listening," I whispered.
"You know, back there on the road after I got the car under control, I started thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and it was as if I could hear you preaching to me about how people shouldnít drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home."
"Thatís good honey," I said, relief filling my chest. My husband came closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine.
"But you know, I think I can drive now."
"No!" I snapped. My muscles stiffened and I tightened the clasp on my husbandís hand. "Please, wait for the taxi. Donít hang up on me until the taxi gets there."
"I just want to come home, Mama."
"I know. But do this for your Mama. Wait for the taxi, please." Learning to listen: I listened to the silence . . . fearing. When I didnít hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving.
"Thereís the taxi, now." Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing. "Iím coming home, Mama." There was a click, and the phone went silent.
Moving from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my 16-year-old daughterís room. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. I wiped the tears from my cheeks. "We have to learn to listen," I said to him.
He studied me for a second, then asked, "Do you think sheíll ever know she dialed the wrong number?" I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. "Maybe it wasnít such a wrong number."
"Mom, Dad, what are you doing?" The muffled voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness. "Weíre practicing," I answered.
"Practicing what?" she mumbled and lay back on the mattress, but her eyes already closed in slumber.
"Listening," I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.
This very gripping story teaches a valuable lesson. Family is one of the most basic units of society, and the first institution God created. It is the responsibility of fathers to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The role of the mother is to be a help suitable to the father in making a home for the entire family.
Children are precious little people God has given parents, not so we can mold and make them in our image, but rather so we can help them discover themselves before an Almighty God, who loves them and has given His only Begotten Son for their eternal salvation.
We live in a fast paced society, and often become entangled with the affairs of this life. This entanglement causes us to forget: the most important part of our lives is not being promoted to a higher paying position, or the increased status of a new house or new car. The most important part is taking care of those things God gives us.
If God has enriched your life with children, teach them Godís Word. Make your family a happy and contented family by obeying the precepts taught in Godís Word. You will never regret living a Christian life, but you will always regret not living a Christian life.