Good Friday  
April 13, 2001
Luke 23:34
"Father Forgive Them"

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Introduction: His was now over, the procession had wandered it way to Calvary.  The cross was stretched out, and the Lord laid back upon it. The nails were pounded and the cross dropped into the grown. Lifting His eyes to heaven, the Son of God prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..."

I.     Why did He pray this petition?

A.   It expresses His essential reason for dying.

1.  He died that all might be forgiven.

2.  This was the reason for His coming into our world.

B.    It reveals His character.

1.  He is loving and compassionate especially to those who are lost.

2.  His thoughts are always of others, not fixated on Himself.

C.   His prayer provides an excellent example for others.

1. Jesus taught by prospect as well as by example.

2.  Thus His prayer should become the model prayer for ourselves, that we seek the Father's will of forgiveness for all for whom we might pray.

D.   This prayer is also a fulfillment of prophecy.

1.   Isaiah 53:12 tells us: "Therefore I will 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 was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." 

2.   This is but one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and predictions, which Jesus fulfilled when He went to the cross.  In short this prayer and the circumstances surrounding the petition prove again that this Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

II. For whom is Jesus praying?

A.   He prays first for those who are at the scene; the immediate subjects.

1.   He prays for those who had just nailed Him to the cross - the soldiers; they were simply carrying out their orders. They were "doing their duty"

2.   He prays for those who had handed Him over to be crucified - they certainly did not know that Jesus was the Son of God!

3.   They did not know what they were doing!

B.    He prays for His countrymen, the Jewish people.

1.   His death was caused by the demand of national pride. Their leaders reasoned to themselves this way in John 11: " And one of them Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, You know nothing at all. Nor consider that it is better that one man die for the people and that the whole nation perish not And this he spoke not of himself but being high priest that yes, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation" {vv. 49-51}

2.   Thus Jesus died for all of Israel, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

C.   He also prayed for you and for me.

1.   The real sin of unbelief is taking place here. The Son of God is being put to death.

a. Notice what Jesus says about His death by crucifixion - "they know not what they are doing!"

b. This is the ultimate sin for it is the sin of rejection of the Son of God.

2.     This sin extends to every single person - to everyone.

a. Anyone who rejects Christ is guilty of the same sin Christ asks to have forgiven.

b. Had we been there, we would have done the same thing. No one at the scene realize who was being put to death.

III. Did God answer this prayer? In a word - YES!

A.   Physically.

1. The Soldiers and Jews were spared on that day.

2. Jerusalem and the Jewish nation were spared.

B.    Spiritually

1. While He was dying

a. All was forgiven in His glorious death on the cross.

b. This is made place that even those who were actually participating in His death were pardoned.

2. The Father has forgiven - period!

a. To all who accept by faith this wonderful work of mercy and salvation.

b. Yes, you to have been forgiven the sin of rejecting Christ. Rejoice in His mercy and dedicate yourself to His cause and work.

Conclusion:  "Father, forgive themů" is an expression of Jesus' heart. Receive His pardon this night for in Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven!