SEVEN AWESOME STATEMENTS
Series 1 of 5
Forgiveness from the Cross
The first statement Jesus made right after He was nailed to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 22:34).
In this short prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ prayed from the Cross, we can learn a great deal about forgiveness.
First, we can have Confidence that our sins can be completely forgiven. There are people who have said, and I have said to myself on few occasions: “I don’t feel forgiven. I have confessed and repented, but I just don’t feel forgiven.” Feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness has everything to do with the promise of God, who said that when you come to Him and confess, He’ll forgive you, and that settles that!
I have struggle with and I am sure others most likely have struggled with and said: “How can God forgive me? I’ve done so many horrible things.” If God could forgive the cold hearts of the Roman soldiers who nailed Him to that Cross, if God could forgive the sadistic crowd that mocked Him, if God could forgive a prostituted priesthood of Caiaphas, no one can say, “God cannot forgive me.”
Second¸ this prayer of forgiveness assures us that the vicious cycle of hatred and sin ends on the Cross. When Jesus was suspended between heaven and earth, He bore our sin-all hatred, viciousness, and anger. It is as if God is saying that if we want to know where our anger, hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness end; we should look at the Cross.
The third thing about this prayer from the Cross is that our Lord practiced what He preached. After teaching forgiveness, had the Lord Jesus Christ cursed those who crucified Him, all of what He taught would have been swept away into the dustbin of history. (To be like Christ, we need to live our lives as Christ did. People are watching us, and waiting for us to stumble. This way we could witness to other people, just by living our lives as Jesus taught us how to live.)
There are things that I have said that I am not proud of, and I am sure others have said the same or similar thing: “Well, I can’t forgive. I try to forgive, but I just can’t.” Unforgiveness gives Satan the power of control your life. Unforgiveness hands him the key to constantly come in and out, harassing you and controlling your life. Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Your feelings and your emotions inevitably will follow, but you have to make a willful decision to forgive. When you do, the power of the Cross will set you free.
What Jesus did on the Cross was the beginning of what He has been doing for two thousand years, for He has continuously forgiven everyone who would come to Him and ask for forgiveness.
The second statement from the Cross is a prayer from a repentant sinner to the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 23:39-43 says: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deed deserves. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
Jesus was crucified between two criminals who had two different reactions to Him. Both of these men were equally near Christ. They were both dying and suffering acute physical pain. Both were sinners in need of forgiveness. Yet, one died in his sin and ended up in eternal judgment, and the other one died forgiven and justified, and he went to paradise.
Both men were reviling Jesus, but something happened to the second man. Obviously, he heard Jesus’ first statement, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Those who were being crucified often cursed their crucifiers, not forgave them. Those words of forgiveness transformed that criminal from a doubter to a believer.
Today, like at Golgotha, our world is made up of two kinds of people: those who reject Jesus and those who welcome Him.
What is God saying to you today as you reflect on these two statements from the Cross? Perhaps your heart is changing from doubt to belief. Christ offers forgiveness to all because of what took place on the Cross that day. Will you receive that forgiveness? For believers, are you walking in forgiveness? Perhaps there is someone you need to extend forgiveness to today.