Day: May 2, 2023

Father, Forgive Them (Luke 23:33-34)

1.0 The Statement

Jesus’ First Statement on the Cross – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34). The last words of a dying Person are very revealing, for example:

  • Karl Marx – On that day that Karl Marx died, March 14, 1883, his Housekeeper came to him and said, “Tell me your last words, and I will write them down.” Marx replied, “Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who have not said enough!” – he could not reconcile within himself.
  • P.T. Barnum, said, as he was dying, “What were today’s receipts?” – Still thinking about worldly things.
  • Napoleon said, “Chief of the Army!” – Still occupied with Conquest.
  • Charles Spurgeon, said as his last words, “Jesus died for me.” – Gratefulness & Thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • John Wesley, the Founder of Methodism said, “The best of all is, God is with us.” – Complete Assurance

In this and subsequent study we are considering the Seven-Statements of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ made on the Cross – His (Christ’s) Seven Last statements from the Cross. Christ’s Seven Statements are very revealing and very important to us, not only because of Christ who spoke but also because of the Place where these “Seven-Statements,” of Christ were spoken. When our Lord Jesus was doing His Greatest Work on Earth, He spoke forth some of His Greatest Statement. These Last “Seven-Statements,” from the Cross are windows that enable us to “see” Eternity and see and feel God the Father’s Heart.

The First of these “Seven-Statements” is found in Luke 23:33-34: “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him and the Malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Christ’s Statement: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) is a very profound and the wonders that are in Christ’s Statement asking, “God the Father to forgive,” those that crucified Him. If we grasp the wonders of Christ’s First Statement, we will not have the excuse not to forgive others who hurt us, thus, not harbouring against them.

1.1 Father Addressed

Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Our Lord Jesus addressed God the Father three times when He hung on the Cross:

  • Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” – Is the first statement, in fulfilment of the Prophecy in Isaiah 53:12“He (Christ) made intercession for His Transgressors.”
  • Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?” – This was Christ’s fourth Statement, in fulfilment of the Prophecy of Psalm 22:1.
  • Luke 23:46, then Christ’s final Statement: “Father into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” This was in fulfilment of the Prophecy in Psalm 31:5a.

No situation/circumstance threatened Christ’s relationship with His Father, even when, (a) Jesus entered His Suffering (Luke 23:34; Isaiah 53:12b). (b) When Jesus was enduring His Suffering (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1). (c) When Jesus emerged victoriously from His Suffering (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5a). God the Father turned His face from Christ because the sins of the whole Human Race were placed on Him, and Jesus cried out: “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1).

1.2 The Appeal

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34; Isaiah 53:12b). The Greek New Testament indicates that our Lord Jesus repeated this Prayer – He (Jesus) said several times “Father, forgive them.”

  • As they laid Him on the Cross on the Ground, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.”
  • As they nailed His hands and feet to that Cross, He prayed again, “Father, forgive them.”
  • As they lifted that Cross and placed it in the hole in the ground, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them.”
  • As Jesus hung on the Cross between Heaven and Earth, He was repeatedly praying, “Father forgives them.” – “Jesus made Intercession for His Transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12b).

Jesus, in His Suffering could have asked the Father to judge His Enemies; He could have called for Legions of Angels to deliver Him, but Jesus did not do it – Matthew 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve Legions of Angels?” Many times, when we are hurt or misunderstood, we pray for God’s judgement, on our behalf, on that Individual, this attitude is not scriptural. We need to follow Christ’s example, forgive those who have hurt us or caused disappointments. 

1.3 Fulfillment

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Why did Jesus pray this Prayer of Forgiveness? Jesus was fulfilling the Prophecy in Isaiah 53:12 (Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12 – the Great Calvary Chapter of the Old Testament): “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sins of many and made intercession for the Transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12). Our Lord Jesus was praying for those who were crucifying Him, as He was fulfilling the Prophecy in Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12 recorded 18 facts about the humiliation and suffering and the Work of Christ on the Cross:

  • Jesus’ Visage {Appearance} and Form (Physical) were marred beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14).
  • Jesus was despised of men (Isaiah 53:3a).
  • Jesus was rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3a).
  • Jesus was a Man of Sorrow (Pains – Isaiah 53:3b). Jesus carried our Sorrows (Pains- Isaiah 53:4b).
  • Jesus was acquainted with Grief (Isaiah 53:3b). Jesus borne our Griefs (Isaiah 53:4a).
  • Jesus was stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God (Isaiah 53:4c, 10a).
  • Jesus was wounded for our Transgressions (Sin against God’s Law -Isaiah 53:5a, 8b).
  • Jesus was bruised for our Iniquities (Lawlessness – Isaiah 53:5b,11b).
  • Jesus was chastised for our Peace (Isaiah 53:5b).
  • Jesus was beaten (wounded) for our sickness (Isaiah 53:5c; 1Peter 2:24).
  • Jesus carried all our iniquities, as God the Father laid on Him all our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6b).
  • Jesus was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not protest (Isaiah 53:7a).
  • Jesus was led unresistingly to the slaughter (crucifixion on the Cross – Isaiah 53:7b). 
  • Jesus was “cut-off-from-the land-of-the-living,” (experienced real-physical-death – Isaiah 53:8b, 12b).   
  • Jesus was buried on the “borrowed-tomb,” of the rich-man (Isaiah 53:9b).
  • Jesus became “God’s Sin-Offering” (Isaiah 53:10b).
  • Jesus was numbered with the Transgressors (2 thieves – Isaiah 53:12b; John 19:18).
  • Jesus made Intercessors for His Transgressors (Isaiah 53:12c – “Father, forgive them…..” {Luke 23:33-34})

1.4 Ignorant of Person of Christ

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) – What the High Priests and the People ignorant of His (Christ’s) Person:

  • Ignorant of Christ’s Person – they mocked Him as the Prophet – “Prophesy, tell us who struck You” (Luke 22:64).
  • Mock Jesus as the King – they put a robe on Him, gave Him as a sceptre and a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29).
  • Laughed at Him (Christ’s) claim that He is the Son of God – “If you are the Christ, come down, from the Cross,” (Matthew 27:40).

But History and Believers have proven that Jesus, is the Christ, the Son of God – God’s Redemptive Atoning Work through Him (Christ – Matthew 16:16; 2Corinthians 5:21). 

1.5 Ignorant of their Own Actions

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34):

  • The High Priests and the People were ignorant of their own actions – they did not realise that what they were doing was the fulfilment of the Prophecy in God’s Word of Isaiah 52:13 to  Isaiah 53:12.
  • The Soldiers parted His (Christ’) Garment (Luke 23:34), in fulfilment of Psalm 22:18.
  • The Soldiers gave Jesus’ vinegar to drink (Luke 23:36), in fulfilment of Psalm 69:21.
  • The Soldiers crucified Him (Jesus) with the Transgressors (Luke 23:33), in fulfilment of Isaiah 53:12a “He was numbered with the Transgressors (2 thieves).”

1.6 Ignorant of their sin

Most of all, the High Priests, and the Jewish People were ignorant of the enormity of their own sin. In the Old Testament, the Jewish Law made provision the Offering of the “Sins of Ignorance” (Leviticus 4). Jesus was saying: “Father, My people do not understand; they are ignorant. I am dying for them. They know not what they do; I know what I am doing – I am dying in their behalf. Now, Father, forgive them.”

  • Peter – Acts 3:17, Apostle Peter said to the Jewish Leaders: “I know that through ignorance you did it.” 
  • Paul himself, in 1Timothy 1:13 states: “I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

1.7 Christ’s Message

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His Disciples: “Love your Enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and Pray (Intercede – Isaiah 53:12b) for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).  Jesus was demonstrating the Message of Forgiveness that He Taught: “Now, if you do not forgive from your heart, God cannot forgive you,” in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 6:14-15).

Jesus demonstrated “the spirit of forgiveness,” during the time of the Romans Era. The Romans worshipped god of revenge – Revenge was one of the gods of the Romans. Our Lord Jesus did not take revenge, so we must not. – Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34), in fulfilment of the Prophecy (Isaiah 53:12b – “He {Jesus} made intercession for the Transgressors”) and His (Jesus’) Teaching on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44; 6:14-15).

1.8 Purpose of Christ’s Death

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34; Isaiah 53:12b). The Cross of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of Hope because God forgives Sinners. We do not have to go round with the weight and the wage of sin – Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, and the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Forgiveness is what the Cross of Jesus Christ is all about; and of God’s forgiveness is not cheap, it costs the Life of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ in His Broken Body and Shed-Blood in His Death, Burial, and Resurrection – 1Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand. By which also you are saved, if we hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believe in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Thus, we will have no problem forgiving others if we are in right relationship with our Heavenly Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit; if we obey God’s Word, remembering that we have received God’s Forgiveness. The wonder of Christ’s address to the Father and the wonder of Christ’s appeal to the Father – “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34; Isaiah 53:12b).

1.9 Jesus’ Advocacy

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34; Isaiah 53:12b) – Jesus gave the reason for asking God the Father’s forgiveness to those that crucified Him – “For they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34b). Jesus not only prayed for His Enemies, but also presented the reason on their behalf!  Jesus is the Lawyer (Advocate – 1John 2:1b) – Giving the reason why His Father should forgive those who crucified Him – “For they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34b). The Declaration: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34), has been greatly misunderstood; this Declaration does not mean that everybody is automatically forgiven, nor does it mean that ignorance brings forgiveness. Christ’s Redemptive Work in the Cross has to be acknowledged, received and embraced – Acknowledging that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 16:16); Receiving Him (Jesus) as our Lord and Saviour (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13 – “Calling on the Name of the LORD”) – Romans 10:9-10, 13 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…..For ‘whoever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.”  

1.10 God’s Answer

Jesus Sacrificial Redemptive Death on the Cross, His Broken Body and Shed Blood is God’s Answer for the Salvation of the Fallen Human Race – Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world and death through sin, and death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (1Corinthians 15:22a – “In Adam all die”). The First Adam sinned and introduce sin and death to the whole Human Race (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12; 1Corinthians 15:22a); the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we can be made righteous before God (2Corinthians 5:21).   

Practical Application

The High Priests of Israel condemned their Messiah (Christ – Matthew 27:22b, 23, 25). His own Disciples failed Him and fled (Mark 14:50). Peter denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). God the Father was willing, for His Son, Christ, to be the Substitutionary Atoning Sacrifice for Humanity, in order that man’s sin can be forgiven, in Christ’s Sacrificial Redemptive Work. Thus, sometimes it is very difficult for us to forgive people who have hurt us and spoken against us; but we need to forgive as God, in Christ, forgive us – “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34a, Isaiah 53:12b).