Welcome to Refinery Life Australia.
Today we begin a new series on Jesus’ seven sayings from the cross, titled Christ Speaks from the Cross.
Today we are talking about Deal Kindly with an Erring One.
Luke 23:34 (AMP)
34 And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing His clothes among themselves.
Luke 23:27-38 (AMP)
Father, we are grateful for your constant care and for the asurance that you love us inspire of our unworthiness and sin.
Even as your love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who you have given to us, may we spread our love by a spirit that reflects the compassion of our Saviour.
May our offering reflect our love for all people everywhere, especially those who have never heard the message of Jesus Christ.
We dedicate our money to your service, but even more than that, we ask that you will use us personally sharing the good news through effective witnessing.
In Jesus name we pray.
A man who was not able to speak was once asked to define forgiveness.
He took out a pencil and wrote, “it is the beautiful fragrance a flower yields when trampled upon.”
Words can be like windows, they let us see into the speaker’s mind and heart.
The first recorded phrase that we have of Jesus from the cross is a prayer to His Father to forgive those who put Him there.
This first of the seven words from the cross shows us that the Saviour knew what He was doing when He died at Calvary.
Three of these sayings were addressed to God, and four to people.
Though they were spoken at different times and for various purposes, there is an unmistakable unity.
This first one, in a sense, was the foundation for the other six, for unless Jesus had possessed a forgiving spirit toward those who crucified Him, He never could have been the world’s Saviour.
- The worst moment in history.
Whatever other tragedies the world has witnessed, none even come close to this ghastly scene.
The best man who had ever lived was killed like a common criminal.
Men who were not even worthy to be in the same world with Jesus dared to condemn Him.
Others who were equally sinful implemented the decision and executed Him.
What an image of mixed up justice that is.
2. God overrules human ignorance and sin.
Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:16 (AMP)
16 And great, we confess, is the mystery [the hidden truth] of godliness:
He (Jesus Christ) who was revealed in human flesh,
Was justified and vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
Nowhere is this better illustrated that when God took the cruelest thing humankind ever did and channeled it into His redemptive purpose.
Centuries earlier one of Israel’s greatest prophets said of the coming Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53:10 (AMP)
10 Yet the Lord was willing To crush Him, causing Him to suffer;
If He would give Himself as a guilt offering [an atonement for sin],
He shall see His [spiritual] offspring,
He shall prolong His days,
And the will (good pleasure) of the Lord shall succeed and prosper in His hand.
This certainly does not mean that God took delighting Jesus’ sufferings, rather, it means that Jesus’ death had God’s approval because it was in accordance with His eternal will.
The saviour who died on Calvary in history was slain in the heart of God from the foundation of the world.
God took human hatred and used to to demonstrate divine love.
He is in the process of doing this even today.
Jesus has been paradoxically called the one who was “far too good to be saved,” but He is also the one who “did something by dying.”
On Calvary’s hill that fateful day, there were three deaths and three kinds of deaths.
One man died in sin because he rejected divine love.
The other their died pardoned from sin because at the last hour he pleaded for mercy.
The one on the middle cross died for sin because He was the only one that could.
Death came to the unrepentant sinner, as one writer put it, “like the world’s last wind, dark, sterile, and hopeless.”
But to Jesus death came “in a sudden shaft of light as the sun sticking its way to etch out the shadows.”
During those six hours that Jesus hung on the cross, His eyes revealed a great, even though a brooding, glory.
Few people could see the light of that glory, but it was there.
The sinless was made sin in order that sinners might be made sinless.
3. But this is not universalism.
This is not universal reconciliation.
Let’s remember what the gospel teaches.
For people to be saved, they must repent of their sins and place their faith in the Saviour.
Thus, when Jesus cried out to the Father with an exhortation to “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
He was not calling on God to save these people against their will.
As omnipotent as out God is, He has limited Himself by humankind free will.
God’s ove for the world does not mean that He will save the world.
It only means that He has provided the way in which the world can be saved.
What is forgiveness?
In the sense of salvation, it is an action that releases us from the guilt and consequences of our unrighteous acts and attitudes.
This requires repentance on the part of those who wish to be forgiven.
Paul used the word “justification” to describe the state of those who have begun the Christian life.
These individuals have been pardoned from the guilt of their unregenerate hearts.
Since the primary meaning of the word “forgive” in “to remove,” we often speak of being justified once, when we begin our Christian life.
But our sins are forgiven regularly as we pray to God and ask for forgiveness.
Forgiveness removes the sin that mars our daily fellowship with Him.
This may be, in a sense, an oversimplification, but basically this is the distinction between forgiveness and justification.
Forgiveness can mean something else.
It can be “forth giving” of oneself in renewed feelings of friendliness and renewed activity of a friendly purpose.
In this sense, one seeks to restore “soul union” between the one who wronged and the one who was wronged.
This is why we must forgive to understand God’s forgiveness.
Those who have never forgiven another do not truly understand what takes place when God, for Christ’s sake, forgives them.
Jesus presented God as a father who meets the prodigal son with the offer of forgiveness.
He practised this in His ministry many times.
Thus, when Jesus asked God to forgive them, He was doing the very thing He taught His followers to do, Matthew 5:44(AMP)
44 But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Implicit in the prayer from the cross was the request that God would lead His enemies to be sorry for this terrible sin, sorry enough to repent and turn to the saviour.
It is possible that some of the very people who had a part in the crucifixion later accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Do you have a forgiving spirit?
If you can’t forgive, then I hope you never sin.
Those of us who fail to show compassion and forgiveness without exception, have the most faults themselves and are the most merciless when it comes to watching others and finding faults in others.
From the scalp of their head to the soles of their feet they are full of jealousy and criticism and hypocrisy.
As we finish up we need to say one more thing about forgiveness.
Are you a forgiven person?
We become a Christian only by experiencing the forgiveness of God through what Jesus Christ did on the cross in atonement and perfected in the resurrection from the grave.
The prayer of Jesus was not for God to wink at the sin of ignorance and approve of it, nor was it a request for a blanket pardon for the sin of His murderers.
Neither was it a request for God to thrust forgiveness on those who did not want it.
His prayer was a request that condemnation of those who killed Him be held in abeyance until they might know the true meaning of what they were doing and repent.
God has done that for you if you have not yet been saved.
He has not cancelled the consequences of your guilt, but He has postponed the consequences so that you might have time to receive Christ as your saviour.
Will you do it?
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.
When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.
Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!
You’re important to God, and you’re important to us at www.refinerylife.org
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