Luke 23:34Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
A. WHEN DID HE PRAY?
When Jesus could do nothing more what did He do – He prayed! His hands were nailed down, His feet where nailed down, His disciples had deserted Him, what could He still do – PRAY!
B. WHAT DID HE PRAY?
In the heat of the pain and the suffering if is a prayer of forgiveness. However Jesus does not say “Father I forgive them!’ Instead He prayed ‘Father, would You forgive them!’ (Emphasis added) If Jesus had forgiven His persecutors then God would still have had to ensure that justice prevailed. BUT if God forgave them (at Jesus’ request) then justice would not be demanded. This is the ultimate forgiveness! A forgiveness which would exempt mankind from the penalty of his actions.
TO WHOM DID HE PRAY?
Jesus prays to His Father. In this moment He acknowledges God and His ‘sonship’ in God. When we go through hard time what do we say? SUGGESTION: Where is God Jesus, on the other hand, does not doubt His Father and turns and prays: ‘Father”.
D. FOR WHOM DID HE PRAY?
He prayed for others. He prayed for people who had done Him a great injustice. He included everyone in His prayer. He prayed for one of man’s greatest needs – FORGIVENESS! He prayed for all of mankind! He prayed for you and me.
2. JESUS OFFERS HOPE
Luke 23:42 – 43Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
A. JESUS GIVES THE GIFT OF SALVATION.
Here we see the greatest picture of the gift of Salvation being given to one who was not deserving. It is a picture of GRACE! LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING: The man needed to be saved. In faith he calls on Jesus. Jesus assures him of heaven. He did not deserve it. God gave it to him!
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
This picture plays itself out into our very world today. There are those who are ready to receive Jesus and those who are not! But every man has his chance! Jesus is still ready to give the gift; the gift of Salvation!
B. THERE WERE TWO THIEVES, EACH WITH A DIFFERENT REQUEST.
THIEF 1 – ‘Save Yourself and us!’ A selfish prayer with a twist of bitterness. This man just wanted to live a little longer so that he could continue doing what he had been doing!
THIEF 2 – ‘Remember me!’ This man understood and grasped the reality that eternity lay ahead and he wanted to be part of it! He had a revelation of who Jesus really was and he made it clear when he said: ‘But this man has done nothing wrong.’ (Luke 23:41)
This thief realized that Jesus knew no sin and was in fact the Son of God and understood that HE alone could truly save him.
C. JESUS’ REPLY.
‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’
This man came and Jesus received him! That is the truth about Jesus Christ! There is no doubt in what Jesus said. He knew this man would die. Then He said these words: ‘YOU WILL BE WITH ME!’ But Jesus was with him! They were hanging together on crosses. They were dying together. What Jesus was saying was that there was something that would follow this earthly existence, another dimension. There is another dimension just outside of your earthly existence! This is a picture of eternity. To be WITH GOD forever is what you and I were designed and destined for!
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