The Cross Has a Message Series
Text: Luke 23:33-35
33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots. 35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”
Intro: In the 15th chapter of Mark were given a setting for the Crucifixion: “Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” Our Lord was crucified about 9 a.m. and remained on the cross until 3 p.m.; and from noon to 3 p.m., there was darkness over all the land. Jesus spoke seven times during those six terrible hours:
1. “Father, forgive them” Luke 23:34.
2. “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” Luke 23:43.
3. “Woman, behold thy son” John 19:25–27. [Three hours of darkness; Jesus is silent]
4. “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46.
5. “I thirst” John 19:28.
6. “It is finished!” John 19:30.
7. “Father, into Thy hands” Luke 23:46.
I have recently started to learn and use Facebook; I guess the main reason was because probably over half the church is already using it. I learned rather quickly when someone reads something on your wall (wall being a place where people can basically text you or send you a picture and just chat) others can respond with what they read with a thumbs up if they like what they read. Of course me being me my son responded rather quickly when I started to thank everyone who sent me a thumbs up and he told me dad you don’t have to respond to everyone who gives you a thumbs up about a comment on your Facebook!
I sit here in my office on a Wednesday afternoon and wonder what if everyone took the time to read the message in the Bible about a man who loved us so much that He died on the Cross for our sins and on the third day He rose from the grave? Would there be more thumbs up If they took the time to see the comments!
During the next several weeks with the Passover, Good Friday and Easter coming up I want to cover a series of messages on the Cross having a message. I guess there are a lot of topics that can be brought up which focus on the message of the Cross. As I already mentioned Jesus spoke 7 times on the cross, seven utterances’ The first statement that came from His mouth was “Father, forgive them”. I think a good place to start is Forgiveness.
Application: The Cross has a message.
1. A Prayer: “Father”
It was no accident; in fact it was God’s Divine Will that the first thing Jesus did was to pray! At that desperate time, Jesus prayed. Throughout Jesus’ ministry the hour was a concern. We have become complacent about the seriousness of the hour. The sky is filled with storm clouds, the prophetic program of the ages is unfolding, the nuclear threat twenty-four hours a day. Time is running out. It’s time to pray! Prayer is always the foundation of revival.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Moody once said: “Every great work of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.”
We must not assume from His prayer that ignorance is a basis for forgiveness, or that those who sinned against Jesus were automatically forgiven because He prayed. It is a simple fact that many in this world don’t give the time of day for their sins.
Acts 3:17-19 (NKJV) “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
2. A Prayer for Forgiveness: “Forgive”
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”
There was the prayer for His enemies—a picture of love and forgiveness to the end. The picture is of Jesus the Mediator. He had come for this very purpose, to stand as the Mediator between God and sinful man. Therefore upon the cross, He prayed for those who stood below crucifying Him. It had been predicted that Christ would pray for transgressors. While they were nailing Him to the cross, He repeatedly prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. Not only was He practicing what He taught, but He was fulfilling prophecy and making “intercession for the transgressors”
Isaiah 53:12 (NKJV) “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”
He prayed for God to forgive those who were crucifying Him. The very purpose for His coming was to make provision for forgiveness of sins. Because of His death, God would be able to forgive the sins of men, even those who were now crucifying Him. The men crucifying Him did not know what they were doing. They did not know who He was. “But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.” 1 Corinthians 2:8 (NLT)
The most wonderful truth in all the world is this: God will hold no sin against any man, if that man will personally trust His Son. If God forgives the men who killed His only Son, God will forgive any man for any sin - if that man will just ask.
Are you guilty? Here’s good news! Jesus forgives
3. A Prayer for the forgiveness of those who had wronged him: “Forgive them” The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”
We read this verse and hear what it says and quickly assume it speaks of others, yet every time we sin, every time we gossip, every time we do ungodly things are we not wronging Jesus? We cannot afford to hold old grudges continue to nurse old hurts and malice if we understand what Jesus did on the cross. The prayer was for forgiveness for the way mankind thought and the relationships they lived. There are churches; yes I said churches crippled by petty grievances. There are barriers between believers, but not one has been wronged as Jesus was wronged. You can forgive! Will you?
It was destined that Jesus was crucified between the two thieves, for this gave both of them equal access to the Savior. Both could read Pilate’s superscription, “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews,” and both could watch Him as He graciously gave His life for the sins of the world. The one thief imitated the mockery of the religious leaders and asked Jesus to rescue him from the cross, but the other thief had different ideas. He may have reasoned, “If this Man is indeed the Christ, and if He has a kingdom, and if He has saved others, then He can meet my greatest need which is salvation from sin. I am not ready to die!” It took courage for this thief to defy the influence of his friend and the mockery of the crowd, and it took faith for him to trust a dying King! When you consider all that he had to overcome, the faith of this thief is astounding.
The man was saved wholly by grace; it was the gift of God. He did not deserve it and he could not earn it. His salvation was personal and secure, guaranteed by the word of Jesus Christ. The man hoped for some kind of help in the future, but Jesus gave him forgiveness that very day, and he died and went with Jesus to paradise.
Romans 3:23 (KJV) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and need forgiveness, has Jesus prayer worked for you?
1 John 1:9 (KJV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Come to the Cross! Since He forgave, we must forgive; we can forgive because we have been forgiven.
William Barclay: "For most of us the threat of life is not so much that we should plunge into disaster, but that we should drift into sin. There are few people who deliberately and in a moment turn their backs on God; there are many who day by day drift farther and farther away from Him. There are not many who in one moment of time commit some disastrous sin; there are many who, bit by bit and almost imperceptibly, involve themselves in some situation, and suddenly awake to find that they have ruined life for themselves and broken someone else's heart. We would do well to be continually on the alert against the peril of the drifting life."
Do you believe in prayer? A tavern was being built in a town that until recently had been dry. A group of Christians in a certain church opposed this and began an all-night prayer meeting, asking God to intervene. Lightning struck the tavern building, and it burned to the ground. The owner brought a lawsuit against the church, claiming they were responsible. The Christians hired a lawyer, claiming they were not responsible. The judge said, “No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”
The only footprints on the sands of time, that will really last, are the ones made after knee-prints!
- C. W. Renwick
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