Jesus’ executioners didn’t know the enormity of their crime against Him. But Jesus offered up a prayer of forgiveness for them to the Father. Pastor Lutzer discusses the extent to which Jesus’ prayer was answered. Since Jesus didn’t revile in return, how should we forgive those who commit outrageous sins against us?
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today and we’re beginning a study on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Now, I’ve written a book, entitled, “Cries from the Cross” and we are going to linger at the foot of the cross and hear what Jesus had to say before He died.
There were seven sayings. Today, we come to the first, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now, if you read the text, you discover that Jesus was saying this when He arrived at Golgotha (“Skull Hill”). Imagine this. Deserted by friends, falsely accused, killing the Son of God as wicked hands did. Imagine this. Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now, on earth Jesus often forgave sins. For example to the paralytic He said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” But now Jesus asks the Father to do that. Jesus does not exercise His divine prerogatives. There are two questions that come to mind when we think of what Jesus said.
The first is this, were they really ignorant of what they were doing? Well, partially, partially no. I mean, they knew that they were crucifying an innocent man. They were guilty of that but they certainly did not know the enormity of their crime. That is for certain. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul talks about those who, if they had understood God’s wisdom they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. They were ignorant of the full extent of the horror of crucifying the Son of God.
There’s another question that we have to ask and this question is: was His prayer answered? Yes, of course, it was answered. I think that all the prayers that Jesus prayed were answered. But this was not a blanket prayer that was given to everyone as if everyone back in those days as well as in our days would be forgiven because they were ignorant. The prayer was answered for those to whom it was intended. Now, we know that many people around the cross did believe. They did come to saving faith. The Centurion himself, who I think was responsible for setting everything up, he said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” And then later on when you get to the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people believed and were baptized, I think many of the people who said, “crucify him.” In fact, the scripture says that there were many priests who believed on Him. So I think many of those people who shouted, “crucify him” ended up believing that He was the Messiah and having their sins forgiven.
But there’s another question that comes to my mind. Since this was indeed the greatest crime that had ever been committed, is there such a thing as an unpardonable sin? I have to tell you this. The real unpardonable sin is committed by those who do not want pardon. If Jesus was able to forgive the sins of those who committed this terrible crime against Him, I can assure you of this: He is able to forgive your sin as well. And there on the cross instead of asking God for justice, which is what I probably would have done or what you would have done, He is pleading for mercy. What a wonderful Savior He is.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, should we pray for those who do not ask for forgiveness?” Yes. Jesus prayed for His enemies before they became His friends. But more than that you can’t always expect people to ask forgiveness. You must lay that bitterness down. Even if there is no reconciliation. As Jesus who, the Bible says, “…when He was reviled, reviled not in return, but comitted Himself unto Him who judges justly.” To those of you who have been deeply wronged, you’ve had injustices done against you that cannot be resolved in this world for many different reasons, commit it to God, the Judge of all the earth. And it is so important for us to realize that if we do that the Supreme Court, not the Supreme Court of the United States but the Supreme Court of the Universe, is going to adjudicate all of these cases.
Thank you so much for joining us and as I like to emphasize be sure to tell your friends to subscribe, to follow, to share because we’re going to continue here at the foot of the cross reminding ourselves of the marvelous Savior that God has given to us. We’re going to go into depth regarding these sayings. But as for today you just go with God.