Seven words on the cross (1)





[Luke 23:34-43]




                Starting today, I would like to meditate on the seven words of Jesus on the cross.  Jesus said little until He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the chief priests, the elders, the scribes, and the soldiers who had come to arrest Him, and was taken away and crucified.  All the words spoken were the truth and the gospel (Mt. 26:34; 27:11; Mk. 14:62; 15:2; Lk. 23:3, 28-31; Jn. 18:20, 21, 23, 34, 36, 37; 19:11).  Apart from these words, Jesus did not say anything because He was in great pain or in agony.  When Jesus and the two robbers were taken to Golgotha, they probably said all sorts of things, but Jesus didn't open His mouth.  This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7 – “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.”  Jesus, who had been silent like this, spoke seven words on the cross: (1) The first word is Luke 23:34 – “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ….”  (2) The second word is Luke 23:43 – “Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’” (This word was spoken to one of the robbers who was hung beside Him).  (3) The third word is John 19:26-27: “Dear woman, here is your son” (v. 26) (This word was spoken to His mother), “Here is your mother” (v. 27) (This word was spoken to the disciple whom He loved).  (4) The fourth word is Matthew 27:46 (Mk. 15:34) – “’Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’-- which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  (6) The fifth word is John 19:28 – “I am thirsty.”  (7) The last seventh word is Luke 23:46 – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  Looking at these seven words of Jesus on the cross, His word appears once in Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34) that is the same words, His word appears three times in Luke that do not appear in another gospels (Matthew/Mark/John), and His word appear three times in John.  In this way, the four Gospels (Matthew/Mark/Luke/John) contain seven words that Jesus spoke on the cross.


                Today, I would like to share God's grace by meditating on Luke 23:34, the first words Jesus spoke on the cross: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ….”  We must treasure this word of Jesus on the cross.


                This word is the word of prayer that Jesus gave to Heavenly Father (we, like Jesus, must pray to share the word with God.  In other words, we must pray centered on the word of God).  The object of Jesus' prayer was “Father,” and the content of the prayer was “forgive them.”  Here, “them” refers to the people who crucified Jesus, but it also includes us in a broader sense.  The people who crucified Jesus did not know (out of ignorance) and crucified Jesus.  We commit many sins, but there are times when we commit sins without even knowing it.  Even the disciples of Jesus did not know the words of Jesus, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (Jn. 2:19) (this refers to the death and resurrection of Jesus).  Only after He was raised from the dead did they remember what He said and believed in the Bible and what Jesus said (v. 22).


                The Bible says that there are sins that are forgiven and there are sins that are not forgiven.  Look at 1 John 5:16-17: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.  All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”  Sins committed unknowingly can be forgiven.  Jesus' prayer on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34), was answered.  If we look at the book of Acts written by Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke, God answered Jesus' prayer on the cross and let the countless people whom God chose before the foundation of the world hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and believe in Jesus Christ.  They repented, was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and was saved by receiving the remission of sins (Acts 2:38): (v. 41) “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day”; (4:4) “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand”; (5:14) “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number”; (6:1, 7) “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, …  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith”; (21:20) “When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, ….”  Even now, the prayer that Jesus asked Heavenly Father for forgiveness of sins on the cross is being answered.


                Now Jesus is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34).  This is Hebrews 7:25 – “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  The ever-living Jesus, who is also an eternal priesthood (v. 24), is interceding for those who come to God through Him in order to save them completely (v. 25).  The reason is because God wants all people to be saved and come to know the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).  Therefore, we, like Jesus, must ask Heavenly Father, “Father, forgive them” (Lk. 23:34).  As we believe that the Holy Spirit who dwells in us helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us with groanings inexpressible according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27), and that Christ Jesus at the right hand of God intercedes for us (v. 34), we must ask Heavenly Father for the forgiveness of our sins with faith.  And like John the Baptist, we must preach “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Lk. 3:3).  Like the Apostle Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, we must boldly preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:14-36).  Then, to those who hear the gospel of Jesus Christ through us and are cut to the heart and ask us, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (v, 37) we say, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call” (vv. 38-39).  Or we should say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (16:31).  Therefore, not only them but also their entire household should believe in Jesus and be saved (vv. 33-34).  Then, we should celebrate and be glad (Lk. 15:32) because those who were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins were brought back to life (regeneration) (Eph. 2:1).


                Let us sing the hymn “On a Hill for Away” as our prayer topic: (v. 1) On a hill for away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain, (v. 2) Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary, (v. 3) In the old rugged cross, stained, with blood so divine, A Wondrous beauty I see; For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died To pardon and sanctify me, (v. 4) To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He'll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I'll share, (chorus) So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it come day for a crown.  Let us all love the cross of the Lord until we gain the final victory.  It is because the Lord has suffered and the Lord has shed His precious blood.  Let us all resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and His death on the cross (1 Cor. 2:2).  Let us all look with faith in the blood that the Lord shed on the rugged cross. It is the precious blood that the Lord shed to forgive us and forgive our sins.  Let us all hold on to the rugged cross of Jesus Christ by faith until we receive the shining crown.