Each day of this week, leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we are emailing an early morning devotional to the congregation of First Assembly from our Pastoral Team.
I have been given permission to post each daily devotional, to my blog and you can read them here each day this week as they are sent out.
The 1st Saying of Jesus on the Cross
Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus said these words right at the beginning of the crucifixion. Many commentators have suggested it might well have been said whilst they were driving the nails in His hands and feet!
In the original Greek language, the tense of the verb “Jesus said” conveys continual action. In other words, it literally reads “Jesus was saying” - it might suggest that Jesus repeated this prayer several times.
Picture Jesus being placed on the cross as it lay on the ground. Two Roman soldiers hold his arm outstretched as another hammers a huge spike through the skin and muscle tissue. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” Then as they place his other arm on the crossbeam and pounded that spike into the other hand, again, “Father, forgive them.” Next, they move to his feet, and cross one foot over the other and the soldier drives the final spike through both of his feet, pounding the nail deeply in the wooden cross. “Father, forgive them.”
Then, all five soldiers heave the cross into a vertical position and maneuver it near the hole chipped out of the rocky ground. As the bottom of the cross slides into the hole the cross falls and bangs to a sudden stop as it hits the bottom of the hole. The body of Jesus is jerked from the momentum and the fiery pain in His hands and feet is excruciating. As that first terrible spasm of pain passes, Jesus opens His eyes and gazes at those who are killing Him, and again He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
He COULD have cried out something like: “FATHER, CONSUME THEM!”, or “FATHER, AVENGE ME”. But NO! He said, “Father, forgive them.”
It’s an astonishing moment, isn’t it? The whole of the Passion of Jesus is the turning point of history – but this one sentence takes our breath away.
According to Roman historians, it was common for those who were crucified to utter blasphemies and words of wrath toward those who were involved in the execution. Seneca, a contemporary of Jesus, recounts that those crucified would normally curse everybody, including their own mothers and fathers. The Roman philosopher Cicero writes that the executioners would sometimes even cut off the tongues of the criminals so that the soldiers would not have to listen to the vindictive verbiage.
Dying, Jesus was still teaching us how to live. Forgiving.
What would we do in the hour of man’s worst treatment of us? Would we pray for their forgiveness or would we hatefully curse them and ask God to destroy them?
Jesus loves you today. And this love that He has is perhaps one of the greatest proofs that He IS who He claimed to be – God come down among us. Because no-one loves like God. Only God COULD love like this, for “God is love.”
Thank God the prayer was answered, and is still being answered. It’s been answered for the millions upon millions who have come these past 2000 years and called upon the Name of the Lord – asking Jesus to be THEIR Mighty Savior.
Pastor Phil Morgan
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