Whenever we hear of an atrocity of crime, you know, we usually don't get past the shock of, I can't believe that happened. Oh, that's so horrible. And the reason I say that's a bit odd is because listen to how it sounds when I put it this way. I can't believe that unbelievers are actually acting like unbelievers.
Wonder of wonders. Instead of being moved by what we hear or read or see on a news clip, to pray for the transgressors. Jesus continually showed His mercy to people, even those who murdered Him. Today on Connect with Skip Hitek, Skip shares with you the real divine purpose behind the cross. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that gives you practical insight on how to love others like Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus loves the devout and the doubters, priests and prostitutes, the diseased and the depressed. Jesus just loves people, all people, no matter what's their past or their present. Sadly, sometimes it's the people who need love the most, who feel the most rejected, even by the church. But if Jesus loves all people, shouldn't we? We want to help you grasp God's relentless love for people by sending you the complete four-booklet Jesus Loves People collection by Skip Hitek. These booklets look to scripture to demonstrate Jesus's love for people from every walk of life. Get all four Jesus Loves People titles, including Jesus Loves the Broken and Jesus Loves Addicts, when you give a gift of $25 or more today to help expand this Bible teaching outreach.
To give, call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Now we're in Luke chapter 23 as Skip Hitek gets into today's message. Even with the most vile act of crucifixion, God brought the maximum amount of good out of it. And it was always in the plan and purview of God the Father to see this happen. That's what it means, John 3.16, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. And the prophet Jeremiah, excuse me, Isaiah predicted something.
When I first read it, when I was a new Christian, it just, I was stunned by it. Isaiah 53, it said, for it pleased the Lord to bruise him. He, it says in Isaiah 53, he has put him to grief.
I was shocked by that. It pleased the Lord to bruise his son. He has put him to grief.
Why? The very next phrase answers the question. To make his soul an offering for sin.
That's why. That's God's redemptive purpose in this horrible thing that is going on. And so we're told, verse 33, when they came to the place called, please notice the word Calvary. It's not cavalry. You know why I make an issue out of this is you don't know how many times over the years people have said, oh, you're at cavalry chapel. I go, no, we're not a regiment on horseback with swords. That's a cavalry. We're at Calvary.
Completely different. Calvary comes from the Latin calvarium. The Greek is cranium. The Hebrew is Golgotha, means the same thing, a skull.
It indicates the shape of the place where the execution took place. That's the murder of Jesus at Calvary, the place of the skull. Next, please notice in verse 34, the mercy of Jesus.
Then Jesus said, father, forgive them. Jesus was on a cross for six hours from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon. During that six hours, he made seven short statements recorded in the scripture. We call them the seven words, the seven last sayings of Jesus on the cross. A person's last words are always significant, but these are most significant. As Warren Worsby said, they are windows that enable us to see into the very heart of God, these seven statements on the cross.
I like to think of it this way. While Jesus was doing the greatest work on earth, he was uttering the greatest words on earth. And the first statement is, father, forgive them. It's a shocking statement.
It's not what we would expect. It's an unusual request for the victim of murder to say, father, forgive them. You know, we talk about Jesus loves people, and it's one thing to say Jesus loves murderers. It's another thing to be the person being murdered and say God loves people.
God loves murderers. Father, forgive them. Forgive them? This crowd, this world that pushed him away from birth, that could offer no room in the inn when he was about to be born, one of whose leaders tried to murder him when he was a baby in Bethlehem.
This crowd, whose leaders plotted this murder, who brought forth false charges and false witnesses to get him up on that cross, who shouted vociferously, crucify him, crucify him. Father, forgive them. What is the natural human reaction if you are being attacked? It's not, father, forgive them. Let me bring it down to a level we can all understand, because some of you have never been attacked. Let's say you're driving down the road.
You're just driving. And some, I won't even give a term to that person, some person holds in front of you and cuts you off. Is your first reaction, father, forgive them? No, no, my first reaction, I pray for them, but it's a very different prayer. The other day, I prayed a prayer when I was being cut off by not one, but two trucks going at least three times the speed limit. I said, father, please, may there be a police officer somewhere close by to give these numskulls tickets, something like that. It was more like, father, judge them. And may they have four flat tires, oh, that'd be great.
And a spare, that'd be even better. Father, forgive them. It's not what we would expect. In fact, maybe we would expect Jesus to say, father, judge them for this act. We would understand that.
Or even if he were to turn to the crowd and say something like, three days, just three days, I'm coming back and I'm coming for you. But he said, father, forgive them. You know, it's even more amazing. In the Greek language, it's in a continual tense. He was continually saying, it could be translated, father, forgive them.
You know what that means? That means that was his undergirding prayer, not once, but during the whole event. So I imagine when they brought Jesus and stripped him at Golgotha, father, forgive them. When they placed him down and they stretched out his hands and put spikes in his hands, father, forgive them. When they raised up the cross, father, forgive them. And as the day wore on, father, forgive them. Father, forgive them. Father, forgive them.
That's his statement. I read a story this week. I had read it before, but it was just so amazing.
I revisited it this week. In 1993, a murder was committed by a 16-year-old boy. I think he was 16 at the time. His name was Oshea Israel. He's in prison. He murdered a 20-year-old boy. The mother of the boy that was murdered, her name is Mary Johnson.
Let me rephrase this. It wasn't the son of that mother, it was the only son. The only son of this mother was murdered. The mother tried to get to the prison and visit the murderer of her son. She was denied access by the prisoner himself. Finally, after a period of time, after incessant asking, she was allowed entrance to the prison to have a visit. Now this is what she said. She goes, as a Christian, she said, as a Christian, I knew I had to forgive him, but I just needed to find out why he killed my son.
He killed my son. So she went to the prison, she visited with him, and after the visit was over, something came over. She was so emotionally distraught, she just broke, she had an emotional breakdown. And she started collapsing to the ground.
The prisoner, the murderer of this woman's son, looked at her and he said, the only thing I could think of in my mind is, what would I do right now if this were my mother? He said, I would hold her up. So he grabbed her and picked her up, held her, picked her up and embraced her, because she was so distraught, embraced her. And she hugged him back. And just stayed in that position, locked in an embrace for a moment. And she had this thought, she goes, I just hugged the murderer of my only son.
She said, as I left that day, all of the pain and bitterness and anger and animosity melted away. I want you to think of this saying on the cross. Father, forgive them.
Like that woman's hug of the one who took her only son. As Jesus is saying, they're about to take your only son. Father, forgive them. And please notice, this is a prayer. This is a statement not directed to the crowd, not directed to another criminal on the cross. He will speak to one of the thieves.
We'll get to that next time. He will speak to his own mother in the course of the crucifixion, but the very first words out of his mouth were a prayer directed to the father. Do you think that's a good idea for us whenever we suffer? Do you think this might be a great role model for us that instinctively, right out of the chute, our first movement would be heavenward? I like to think of it this way, that Jesus stays connected to heaven while he suffers anguish on earth.
And I think it's a good model. I'm going to stay connected to the father. And he prays, father, forgive them. Why does he pray it? First of all, he's fulfilling scripture, right? You remember Isaiah 53, right? Where it says, he bore the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors. That's what the scripture said he would do. He's doing what the scripture predicted.
He's fulfilling prophecy. He made intercession for the transgressors. Why on earth would you make intercession for transgressors? Easy answer, because transgressors, sinners, sinners need intercession, prayer.
They need it. Murderers need prayer. Criminals need prayer.
So he made intercession for the transgressors. It's a bit amazing to me, really, how we as believers, as Christians, we tend to have this reaction to what the world does whenever we hear of a atrocity of crime. We usually don't get past the shock of, I can't believe that happened. Oh, that's so horrible.
And the reason I say that's a bit odd is because listen to how it sounds when I put it this way. I can't believe that unbelievers are actually acting like unbelievers. Wonder of wonders. Instead of being moved by what we hear or read or see on a news clip, to pray for the transgressors, to pray for them, to enter into that situation by bringing it before the throne of God and interceding. Jesus did. He was fulfilling the text of scripture. Second reason he did it is because, well, that's just Jesus.
That's consistent with his nature. Jesus prays, Father, forgive them, because that's what Jesus always did. Whether it was the man let down the roof who was a paralytic, the first thing he said is, man, your sins are forgiven.
Be of good cheer. Or the woman who barges into Simon the Pharisee's house and cries all over his feet, as we saw last week, woman, your sins are forgiven. For Jesus to say from the cross, Father, forgive them. Well, that's consistent with our Jesus.
He's always doing that. He's always reaching out. He's always offering forgiveness. And here's the third reason why he prayed this, because it's what you need the most. It is the greatest need of humanity to be forgiven.
I've watched thousands, thousands of people march forward through the years in altar calls. I see it in their eyes. I see it in their tears.
What they want more than anything else is to be forgiven. I remember this as a little boy when I offended my father one time. I offended him many times, but on this one particular occasion, I knew that I offended him. I knew that I had broken his heart, and I so wanted to hear from him, I forgive you.
I didn't hear it for a while because he was so deeply offended. Mankind's greatest need is God's greatest accomplishment, forgiveness. May I suggest that you put your name in the verse, Father, forgive, skip. Father, forgive, Michelle, or Gail, or Pete, or George, or whatever.
Put your name, personalize it. This is Jesus loving murderers. This is Jesus wanting sin to be forgiven.
So we've seen the murder of Jesus, the mercy of Jesus. Please consider the last phrase of what he says in verse 34, the motive of Jesus. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. We have just come across one of the most misunderstood phrases in all of the Bible.
Let me tell you what it does not mean. When Jesus says they don't know what they're doing, he is not suggesting that they were unaware that they were sinning. Oh, they knew what they were doing. Oh, they knew that this was wrong. Oh, they knew that this was wrong. They knew that this was evil. They knew because they had brought in false witnesses, it says, with false accusations against Jesus. And we know it to be true because Pilate, who interrogated this criminal, came out and said, I find no fault in him at all.
And all they could respond is two words, crucify him, crucify him, crucify him. We don't care about justice. We don't care about doing right.
We just want him dead. They knew it was wrong. So he is not suggesting they were unaware. And by the way, even if they were ignorant of what they were doing, that's no excuse, is it?
Does ignorance mean innocence? Well, if you struggle with that, you may want to try going 65 miles an hour in the 35 mile an hour zone until you see a nicely appointed black and white car follow you and stop you. And what would this sound like? You know how fast you were going, sir? Uh, no. You were going 65.
It's a 35 mile an hour zone. Now, imagine this. I didn't know. Do you think the officer will neatly fold up his little ticket book and walk away and go, okay, then you're innocent because of your ignorance. Ignorance equals innocence. You know what he'll say?
He'll write the ticket and he'll say, now, you know, and when you pay the fine, then you'll know you're still guilty. So we're still left with the question, what does this phrase mean? Father, forgive them for they do not know what they're doing. Well, it means two things at least means number one for the Romans, the Roman soldiers actually performing this deed. They didn't know the identity of this criminal. This was their job. They had crucified thousands of men like him. They didn't know who this was. They didn't have the fixed identity of this man in their, in their minds and that they didn't know. In fact, only one of these soldiers after the fact, and only after the fact, after his death, after three hours of darkness, after an earthquake, after the veil of the temple is ripped, only then does one of them discover who this is and says, truly, this was the son of God.
But it means the second thing for the rest of the crowd. They didn't know the enormity of their crime. They knew the reality of it. They knew it was wrong. They knew it was real, but they didn't know how big this crime was. They didn't know the full horror of what they were doing. First Corinthians chapter two, verse eight, had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. You know, I found that people who reject Christ by and large don't know how enormous an offense that is. They don't. You know, there's a lot of different belief systems. I don't believe in Jesus. So what?
They do not understand the enormity of what that is and how judgment will fall and how they will be alienated from God forever and ever. And actually, I might be even addressing somebody, that's your exit strategy. You're going to plead ignorance. That's your strategy. If your strategy is, well, you know, I like to call myself a free thinker.
In fact, I like the term, not atheist, I'm an agnostic. I just don't know, which usually means, not always, but it often means I don't know and I don't really care to find out. So I'm just going to sort of bump through life not knowing and if there is a God and if I ever stand before him at judgment, I'm just going to plead ignorance and say, well, I just didn't know. Well, the bad news is now you know. You know too much. Just from this message alone, you know too much. Just from this message alone, you know too much and you are held accountable. Don't fret over all those people who have never heard about Jesus.
That's usually the argument. What about those people that live way out in the jungles and never heard? You have heard.
Let's worry about that. As Peter will say to the people of Jerusalem, truly these times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent. So, was Jesus' prayer answered? Father, forgive them?
Oh, it was, wasn't it? In many ways, many times over, the first answer to the prayer comes when he says to the criminal at his side, today you'll be with me in paradise. Something happens in that transaction with this criminal.
We'll look at that next time. The second answer to the prayer comes when he says to the criminal next time. The second answer to the prayer is with that Roman centurion. And the Bible says this, glorifying God, it says glorifying God, he said, truly this man was a righteous man, truly he was the son of God. There was a conversion, I believe, of that soldier to who this criminal son of God was.
The third answer came at Pentecost, 3,000 people come to Christ. And thousands upon thousands more just in the city of Jerusalem will believe in this Jesus in weeks to follow. Some of the very people at the foot of the cross in this scene who are jeering and mocking and not believing will understand the identity of this person and the enormity of this crime and they will come in repentance. In fact, we know that many priests were around the cross at the time. Acts chapter six says, a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
It's a key phrase, they were obedient. You see, this prayer, Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing. This isn't some promise of instantaneous and automatic forgiveness. It anticipates that there will be in that crowd and in days to come, people who will understand the identity of that person and the enormity of this crime and will, in realizing that, turn from their sin and turn to him in order to be forgiven. Like Christopher Pritchard, who said, Christopher Pritchard, like O'Shea Israel, like David Berkowitz, all who have discovered personally, Jesus loves murderers. And speaking of murderers, we have to assume our own guilt for the cross. Our sin put him there. He died for us in our place. And so maybe his prayer will be answered by a few of those in this group, turning their lives to Jesus and personally discovering that Jesus loves murderers like us. That wraps up Skip Heiseck's message from his series, Jesus Loves People. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep this broadcast going strong, connecting more people like you to the good news of Jesus. Because of our sin nature, we stand guilty before God. But because of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, we have been forgiven and can stand before the Lord redeemed. Christ has given us eternal salvation. And that's amazing news.
It's the kind of news we want to share around the world. Through your support today, you can help take God's truth to so many other people while keeping these teachings that you love coming to you. Here's how you can give a gift right now and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give us a call at 800-922-1888 to give a gift today.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-21 02:07:39 / 2023-12-21 02:16:51 / 9