Luke: Father forgive them.. 01/12/20


Message: Father, forgive them…’                 Text: Luke 23:26-38


Introduction: PP: Did you know that most girls say about 20,000 words a day? Guys about 7,000.

I’ve heard it said that women speak more words than men because they have to repeat everything they say to them. BUT…
Research at the University of Penn indicates there’s a biological reason. PP:Women’s brains have higher levels of a “language protein” called FOXP2.

PP: So, while I do find science interesting, I’m still sticking with women speak more than men because they have to repeat everything they say to them. Am I right ladies?

But whether you’re a woman or man, most of what we say is not all that important in the big picture.

There is, however, an exception. It’s what people say when they are dying.

Here are a few last words of some famous people:

Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary, sighed, “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.” (Brian Bill)
Lou Costello had a strawberry ice cream soda as his last meal and said, “That was the best ice cream soda I’ve ever tasted.” Those were his last words.

Now listen to the last words frompeople who placed their faith in Jesus as their Savior.

D. L. Moody, the great evangelist said in his final words, “I see earth receding and heaven is opening. God is calling me.”
Judson Van DeVenter who wrote the hymn “I Surrender All.” In His final hours he could be heard whispering the words, “All to Jesus, I surrender.” He was so weak that when he spoke his final words, all he could say was, I Surrender. (Mark Hall)

There’s a difference in the last words of those who cling to the world and those who cling to Christ. The difference is

God’s Forgiveness, God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s comfort, God’s guidance, God’s love, God’s presence every day and God’s presence in His future Kingdom!

All brought about, by a relationship with Jesus.

Today, we’ll be looking at how 10 of Jesus’ last words on the cross changed the lives of many people in His day, and in ours.

Transition: So, open your Bibles to Luke 23:26.

1. Luke 23:26  Simon the Cyrene

PP: And as they led Him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

PP: When a criminal was condemned to be crucified, he was led away from the judgment hall by 4 Roman soldiers. His own cross, the means of his execution, was laid upon his shoulders. And he was led by the longest way possible, to the place of crucifixion.

Let’s remember that Jesus had been up all night during the trials, then severely beaten. The wooden cross was heavy & Jesus was exhausted.

PP: So the Romans soldiers conscripted (forced) a man Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross.

We don’t know a lot about Simon of Cyrene. But what we do know is actually pretty interesting.

Simon, was chosen at random by the Roman soldiers, but I believe he was also chosen specifically by God. More on that in a moment.
Simon would have havetraveled over 800 miles to attend the Passover celebration.
And it was customary to stay the 40 days until the Feast of Pentecost was over.
We know from Acts 2:10 that at the feast of Pentecost, there were people from Cyrene in the crowd where 3000 were saved.

Was Simon of Cyrene saved that day? There is some evidence to support that.

In Mark 15:21 we read:  And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry His cross.
In Romans 16:13a we read: Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord...
In Acts 11:20 we find:  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

At least one person got saved at Pentecost from Cyrene… Someone went back to Cyrene in North Africa and began to spread the word about forgiveness through faith in Jesus.

Simon was ‘chosen’ to help Jesus carry His cross.
No doubt Simon stayed to see what all the fuss was about.
It would have been unlikely that Simon traveled 800 miles for the Passover and not stay the 40 days till Pentecost.
Rufus, coincidentally also the name of Simon’s son, got saved.
Its very likely that Simon was one of the 3000 that got saved.

Friends, God cares about people, God cares about the individual.God cares about YOU!

Look, I’m not going to go as in depth with all the people mentioned in our text, BUT, think about this for a moment.

Luke in our text, mentions different people who were there that day when Jesus was led to the cross.
Jesus, on the cross says Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
40 days later at the Feast of Pentecost, 3000 people, individuals, were saved. I have to believe there’s a connection.

2. Luke 23:27-31  Daughters of Jerusalem

PP: And there followed Him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for Him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

There were a lot of people in the procession heading outside Jerusalem to the hill called Golgotha.

The crowd would have included the religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, those who were interested to see the execution and a group Jesus calls, Daughters of Jerusalem.

While they were mourning his execution, it does not mean they were saved. It was normal for that time for women to mourn Jews who were executed by the Romans… no matter the crime.

The term Daughters of Jerusalem, often referred to those women who were faithful Jews, who were waiting for the Messiahs return.

But it seems these women had not yet trusted that Jesus was their Messiah since Jesus uses the word YOU in His prophecy of destruction.

What we see here is Jesus restating His earlier prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He had previously mentioned it in both Luke 19 and Luke 21.

He again warns of the devastation to come by God’s judgment through the Romans. And why the judgment?

Luke 19:44 says because you (the Jewish people) did not know the time of your visitation. (The coming of your Messiah)

They rejected Jesus as their Messiah.

Some commenters say this is pure judgment from Jesus. John MacArthur says that this is not Jesus giving them a second chance. I see it differently.

All through Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus warns of Judgment theres always an extension of mercy and grace.

I see it no differently here.

Remember 40 days later, after Peters sermon about Jesus, 3000 Jews will be saved… I bet that included at leasesome of the women mentioned here.

3. Luke 23:32  Two others

PP: Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Him.  

Jesus wasn’t the only one being led to their death. Two others were there as well. Some say they were partners with Barabbas who got caught but didn’t get released. Seems logical to me.

4. Luke 23:34a  Crucified

PP: And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left.

PP: Next Slide

All 4 Gospels use just one short verse to describe Jesus’ crucifixion.

Pastors like to tell you all the details about Roman crucifixion and how painful it was… I’ve done it.
But I wonder if it was the right thing to do when Scripture itself is so brief with its description.

Perhaps the Gospels used such an economy of words to describe Jesus’ crucifixion, because they were more interested in Jesus’ own words from the cross Father, forgive them.

PP: H. C. Trumbull was an American clergyman and author in the 1800’s who as a pioneer of the Sunday School Movement. He summed up Jesus’ crucifixion this way.

Calvary shows how far men will go in sin, and how far God will go for man’s salvation. (Bruce Hart)

One of the most amazing truths about Jesus’ crucifixion is that there were far more than just 2 criminals crucified with Jesus that day. There were literally millions of criminals, sinners, crucified with Him on the cross.

And if you have placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin, you are one of them.

PP: Romans 6:3-7 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Putting it another way, the Apostle Paul writing to the Church in Galatia said: PP: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we died with Him, so that we would have to die by ourselves.

5. Luke 23:34a  Father Forgive Them…

PP: And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

The way the ancient manuscripts of the Bible put it, we miss something very important in our English translations. The verb tense suggests that Father forgive them was repeated more than once by Jesus on the cross. It could read something like this:

When they nailed Him to the tree, Jesus prayed, Father forgive them.
When they mocked Him, Jesus prayed, Father forgive them.
When they shouted at Him to save Himself and come down off the cross, Jesus prayed, Father forgive them.
When the soldiers gambled for His clothes, Jesus prayed, Father forgive them.

Let than sink in for a moment.PP:

Father forgive them
Father forgive them
Father forgive them

Now listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote in PP: Romans 5:20: Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…

Jesus, nailed to a cross, in excruciating pain, and experiencing the sin of all those who would place their faith in Him… looks beyond Himself, ushers up enough strength to say

Father, forgive them.
Father, forgive them.
Father, forgive them.

That’s the ultimate demonstration of love.. isn’t it? PP: In the Book of Romans we read: but, God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We just celebrate the Advent season where it was announced by the angel that Jesus will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)

How are we saved from our sins? Only by God’s forgiveness.

On the cross, Jesus’ uses some of His last words to finish what He came to do.
Offer forgiveness… to you!

And Jesus’ prayer to the Father for forgiveness was answered when Jesus took His last breath and said It is finished!

Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice for our sin when He gave His life on the cross.

One last thing before I move on. Give me a moment to try and explain what Jesus meant when He said  PP: for they know not what they do.

The Jews knew Jesus was innocent.
The Romans knew Jesus was innocent.

What they were ignorant of was the enormity of their guilt and the judgment that awaited them for their decision to reject Him.


no one comes to faith in Jesus,
no one’s sin is forgiven,
no one is saved

until they understand the gravity of their sin and repent.

For those here this morning who have yet to say YES to Jesus’s offer of forgiveness… you now know, you are no longer ignorant. And if Jesus is touching your heart right now, you need to say:

Father, forgive me, for I now know what I’ve done.

6. Luke 23:34b-37  Soldiers, People, Rulers

PP: And they cast lots to divide His garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

It seems just about everyone gets into the ‘Let’s make fun of Jesus’ game. But notice something… everything they mock Him with… is TRUE!

He did save others.. not only from physical death, but eternal death, spiritual death.
He is the Christ, the Chosen One, the Messiah.
He is the King of, not only the Jews, but of the whole world.

Get this… in their mocking of Jesus, they were proclaiming the Gospel.

They just didn’t know it.

And here’s the great grace in this passage…

In just 40 days, at Pentecost, some of the very same people mocking Jesus, will place their faith in Him as Savior.

The soldiers, People, Rulers, all sinful and deserve separation from God… PP: but, God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

7. Luke 23:38  Pilate

PP: There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Pilate, a Gentile, a Roman who wanted to set Jesus free because he knew Jesus was innocent… proclaims the Gospel as well to all who walk by Jesus’ cross.

While we can’t be certain, it seems from public records that Pilate killed himself not too long after these events.

Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. But, that wasn’t enough to save Him.
It takes faith in Jesus, and Jesus alone to forgive your sin and bring you into God’s eternal family.

PP: Next Slide

Conclusion: If you used the Sermon Notes page in your Bulletin, you found names for sermon points:

Simon of Cyrene, The Daughters of Jerusalem, Two others, Soldiers, People, Rulers, and Pilate.

And in the middle of those is Jesus praying to the Father… for those very same people. Father, forgive them. And over the centuries since His death, Jesus hasn’t stopped praying that very same prayer.. for people.

If you’re here today and youve been saved by God’s amazing grace, then rejoice, because on the day you gave your life to Jesus, He was saying:

‘Father, forgive Chris, forgive, Joe, forgive Kathy, forgive Sara, forgive Kim…

Aren’t you glad?

And if you’re here this morning and the Holy Spirit is tapping on your shoulder, wooing you to faith in Jesus, Jesus is praying

Father, forgive them

And you can be like the one thief on the cross who turned to Jesus after He heard Jesus pray: Father forgive them.  

And placed his faith in Jesus to be forgiven,
to be accepted by God
and granted access into His Kingdom in heaven.

It was that simple for that one thief on the cross to be forgiven, and it’s that simple for you here in your comfortable chair to be forgiven.

Search deep… have you been forgiven by God through faith in Jesus?