Father, Forgive Them...

The Seven Last sayings on the CROSS – Message 1

Luke 23:33,34


I.         Introduction


A.      Journey with me today through the last day of the life of Christ. Our journey will take us to a place far away called Calvary.

B.       Calvary, known in the Hebrew as Golgotha, was the place of the skull – the place of death. Walk with me up that path today as we see the Son of God hanging on an old rugged cross.

C.       Watch with me, as the innocent-One dies there for you and I. The “Just for the unjust.” The pure for the defiled. The sinless for the sinner. The Creator for His creation.

D.      Watch as He who knew no sin will become sin for you and me.

E.       May we listen in as God in the flesh speaks His last dying words to all mankind.

F.       Up until to this moment, through all the beatings and torture, Jesus was silent – dumb – like a sheep that is led to the slaughter!


1.        As He is accused

2.        As He is mocked

3.        As He is whipped

4.        As He is led through the city of Jerusalem – says in Luke 23:28-30, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

5.        As His hands and feet are nailed to a roughly cut cross

6.        Never did He cry out for vengeance

7.        Never did He demand justice

8.        Never did He fight back at all the injustice of everything swirling around Him

9.        He was quiet, and didn’t bruise a broken reed as He paced Himself through every step of that last long day!


G.       But, during the last 6 hours of His life, Jesus will speak, very briefly seven times. Four of His utterances were prayers to His Father in Heaven. Amazing isn’t it! In the midst of such pain, He spent most of His energy on praying. Christ always placed a premium on prayer.

H.      Let’s briefly list the seven final times Jesus spoke!


1.        Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

2.        John 19:26,27, “Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!”

3.        Luke 23:43, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

4.        Matthew 27:46, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

5.        John 19:28, “I Thirst”

6.        Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

7.        John 19:30, “It is finished”


I.         Notice that His first utterance was a prayer. And what a powerful prayer it was!


1.        It was because of this one prayer that anybody can be born again, forgiven adopted into the family of God, made completely new again!

2.        And it is because of this one prayer, that backslidden Christians can know they are secure in Christ, no matter how low they go in this life!


J.        The purpose of studying these few words from the cross are to enable us to LIVE in what Christ purchased for us on that cross

K.      WHAT did Jesus purchase for us – most of all – FORGIVENESS!


II.       Message


A.      Let’s first answer the question, WHEN Did He Pray?


1.        Our text in Luke 23:33,34 simply records, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary ... then said Jesus, Father forgive them

2.        Actually, His whole life had been an example of the importance of prayer.


a.       He told his disciples, in Luke 18:1 “... men ought always to pray...”. Every place that Jesus went became a place of prayer.

b.       This was no exception.

c.       How quickly does prayer fade out of our lives

d.       What is prayer?


1)       That time in your life, however brief it may be, when heaven and your earthly life meet

2)       Prayer is your heart touching the heart of an almighty God

3)       It is the moment when all your needs are summarized, presented, considered by God, and then answered – all at the speed of prayer

4)       We pray most when we are in the biggest of troubles

5)       But do we like Christ, pray for strength and victory, or out of defeat?


3.        The hymn goes, “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God. There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God. A place where we our Saviour meet, near to the heart of God. There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God. A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.”

4.        In times of trial, there is nothing as important as the time spent in prayer.


a.       Where you get the strength you need to live the life Jesus called you to live

b.       AND, where you rise above your needs and begin to pray for others!


B.       Secondly, To WHOM Did Jesus Pray?


1.        It was not to His mother


a.       He did not look to His mother even though she was right there!

b.       Mary has no place in Christ’s life after He left home. From the time Jesus was a grown man, He refers to Mary simply as “Woman.” That is all. He never looks to her for direction – He is a MAN, not a apron-string controlled wimp of a mouse!


2.        And let me add, Jesus does not look to the prayers, or requests or wisdom of His mother today! He is GOD!

3.        It was not to the Holy Spirit either! No one EVER prayed to the Holy Spirit. No one ever talked to the Holy Spirit.

4.        So whom DOES Jesus direct His prayer to? The One He always looked to!

5.        “Father”


a.       HIS Father

b.       Jehovah God in heaven – who made heaven and earth

c.       The only Being in the universe who can answer every prayer

d.       Notice the term, Father – God is a PERSON!

e.       Jesus referred to His Father as “Father” but also as “Abba” – Daddy!

f.        Oh let me tell you – God designed this world to need Daddies! Good Daddies! Like God the Father! NOT God the Mother!

g.       Here, on the cross, we see a tender moment between Father and Son

h.       What a window into the most wonderful of relationships that exists in the Trinity

i.         And do you realize what is amazing in all this?

j.         That we are invited into that same relationship

1)       Heb 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

2)       Rom 8:15says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby WE cry, Abba, Father.”


6.        For much of the religions of the world, prayer is a duty, a chore, a ritual. For them, prayer is often a complicated action that requires a good deal of effort. Religious leaders constantly suggest that prayers should be written by professionals and then read by common folks. For much of the world the only prayer they know are memorized prayers learned as a child or in some class about religion. Some go so far as to require the use of candles, special prayer alters and body symbols or hand movements so that prayers are more effective. BUT, for the child of God, prayer is just simple talk between a child and their heavenly Father, who hears every sigh and every wish!

7.        Aren’t you glad Jesus taught us how to pray? Even on the cross!!!


C.       Thirdly, FOR WHOM did He Pray?


1.        Oh, now it gets really good!

2.        His prayer was for “them


a.       Not His friends, but enemies,

b.       Not the innocent but the guilty

c.       Not those who had received Him but rather those who rejected Him.

d.       What a pattern for our life, to learn how to rightly to respond to those who do us wrong.

e.       Illust. Small child spanked by Mom. On his knees that evening before bed he prays for everyone in his family, but one. When finished, he looked up at his Mom and proudly said, “I guess you noticed. I did not include you!” It is always easy to pray for friends and loved ones. BUT, Christ was praying for the hardest people:


1)       Those who had turned on Him and cried Crucify Him!

2)       He was praying for those Roman soldiers who had just whipped the flesh of His body to shreds!

3)       Those who drove the nails into His hands and feet.

4)       He was praying for those who had spit in His face.

5)       He was praying for those who had mocked Him. Do you understand that Christ was praying for a bunch of religious zealots called Pharisees and political zealots called Sadducees, that they would be forgiven as He took their place?!

6)       He was also praying for the disciples who had forsaken Him

7)       He was praying for Pilate, and Herod

8)       He was praying not for those who did minor, venial sins, but for a crowd of, in catholic terms, mortal sinners – these were MURDERERS who were committing REGICIDE – they were killing their own King!

9)       He was praying for sinners like you and me.


f.        Prayer becomes real when we are moved to pray for forgiveness (not justice or judgment) for those who have done us wrong.


3.        Always remember WHO Jesus prayed for – US! He looked out into the future, and saw my sinful, wretched life, and said, FORGIVE HIM!

4.        Wow! Never forget WHO it was that he prayed that prayer for!


D.      Fourthly, For WHAT did He Pray?


1.        Now, as I just mentioned, Jesus prayed for the act of forgiveness

2.        Normally, we would expect someone in such a circumstance to pray, “Father, CONSUME them! They know EXACTLY what they are doing, and ought not be able to get away with it!”

3.        But, LISTEN to that word - “Forgive

4.        Someone has said one of the sweetest words in the English language is “forgiveness.” Maybe even sweeter than to forgive, is to BE forgiven.


a.       Mt 9:2, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

b.       Mt 18:21,22, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

c.       Mark 11:25,26 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

d.       John 8:11, And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

e.       Acts 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

f.        Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

g.       Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

h.       Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

i.         Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.


5.        You see, Jesus had ONE great purpose in His prayer – it is the same as the purpose for Him coming to this world, and being on the cross! The purchasing of the forgiveness of all mankind for all time – if they would just accept it!

6.        Forgiveness means: The removal of the record!

7.        It is the greatest act of any individual, because it is an act that only God can teach us to do! It is NOT in us to forgive – not like God does!

8.        When man forgives, there is always a scare

9.        When God forgives, even the memory of the sin is erased!

10.     Forgiveness is NOT just blindly given out. Listen to Luke 17:3, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”


a.       What God has done is clearly show us our sinfulness – the OT Law

b.       He then showed us the COST of our sinfulness – death and hell

c.       He then showed us His great love – taking OUR place on the cross

d.       He therefore purchased by His own death, the priceless gift of the forgiveness of all sins and spiritual debt against us

e.       He now waits for any and all to repent (have remorse, be very sorry for your sinfulness) and call upon the name of Jesus to give them that gift – all by faith, and not by religious works!

f.        There are just three simple steps:


1)       The sinner says, I am sorry – key words – not for just one sin, or even many sins, but for ALL my sins, past present and future!

2)       God says, You are hereby Forgiven - it is THEN that the sinner, on their knees as a lost and hopeless case finds true forgiveness, and becomes a child of God, and best of all, FORGIVEN!

3)       The new child of God must then simply say, Thank You! For forgiving me!

4)       There is no salvation without those three elements!


E.       Lastly, WHY Did He Have to Pray?


1.        Jesus says, “They know not what they do.”

2.        Christ understood that very few men realize the severity of rejecting Him.

3.        The crucifiers of Christ knew not what they were doing. They that speak ill of the cross speak ill of that which they know not.

4.        I don’t think anybody ever understands the extent of our sins, their effect on others and upon God

5.        I really don’t believe we understand just how wicked, and awful our sinful natures are

6.        How many people really realize there is a hell, and that just ONE sin makes them qualified for a devil’s hell for all eternity?

7.        How many well-educated people, religiously educated, and very zealous people realize just how bad a sinner they all are? “ALL our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Isa 64:6)

8.        Jesus made intercession NOT for good people, but for transgressors, as was foretold (Isa 53:12)

9.        This prayer of Christ was answered not long after, in Acts 2, when many of those that had a hand in his death were converted by Peter’s preaching.


III.     Conclusion:


A.      This is written for an example to us.


1.        First, we must call upon God the Father, and come to him with reverence and confidence, as children to a father, and repent. Realise that we are sinners, and should be on the cross ourselves – dying for our own sins!

2.        Secondly, The great thing we must beg of God, is the forgiveness of sins.

3.        Thirdly, We must pray for our enemies, and those that hate and persecute us, must extenuate their offences, and not aggravate them as we must our own (They know not what they do; peradventure it was an oversight); and we must be earnest with God in prayer for the forgiveness of their sins, their sins against us.

4.        This is Christ’s example (Mt 5:44-45), Love your enemies; Hey, if Christ loved and prayed for such enemies, what enemies can we have that we are not obliged to love and pray for?


B.       Specifically, Jesus teaches us how to pray to God the Father for our enemies to be forgiven, because only He knows their heart, and so wants to forgive!


Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church Blarney

29 Westcourt Heights

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland