Seven Words From The Cross by Jason Exley
THE FIRST WORD
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)
“Forgive them” said Jesus. Who, I wonder, was Jesus referring to? There were many groups of people around the Cross. Closest to him would have been the execution party, soldiers of the Roman garrison. But, there were also
other groups: the teachers who hated him, the priests who bought him with silver, the traitor who sold him out, the crowd who had cried “crucify him”, and in the distance was Pilate trying to salve his conscience by blaming somebody else. But I like to think that Jesus was encompassing a wider body of people than those I have mentioned: there was the band of disciples who had been his constant companions for nearly three years. Had they lifted a finger to prevent this act of barbarism? But as Jesus endured the torture of crucifixion, they failed to make even a token protest against the terrible atrocity being committed.
What does this tell us? All these groups either actively or passively helped to crucify Jesus – they were all guilty, but in a very real sense they are only representatives of a wider number of those responsible for crucifying Jesus, because the message of the Bible is that it was the sin of the world which crucified Jesus. The gospel writers simply wrote “They crucified Jesus”. Who crucified him? I’ll tell you who crucified him. I did – and you did – every one of us is equally guilty.
The wonder of this Word From The Cross is that there is forgiveness. Forgiveness for the disciples who betrayed Jesus. Forgiveness for the evil ones who drove Him to the Cross. Forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed him to the tree. Forgiveness for the bitter hearts of his religious enemies. Forgiveness for every person who has ever sinned or made a mistake. Forgiveness for you and for me. Thank God, there is forgiveness but it is a forgiveness that requires to be taken individually, to be drawn on in the way that God has planned. Years later, one of the disciples, John, restated this truth when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
To Be Continued…