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Father, Forgive Them
By Pastor John

Luke 23:32-47
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-- one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."

The Depths of Sin and Hatred
The Heights of God's Love and Grace

The Depths of Sin and Hatred
After the flogging, after the mocking of the soldiers, after the shouts of "Crucify Him," Jesus was taken to the cross.  There the hatred continued to spew forth.
   
The people, and the rulers sneered at Him
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

The soldiers mocked Him
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

Pilate attempted to mock Him with the inscription
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Even one of the criminals crucified with Jesus insulted Him
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

They believed Jesus was a blasphemer who claimed to be the Messiah.
"He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

"If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

"Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

The Irony - He really was the Messiah.  They were crucifying God's Son.

The Heights of God's Love and Grace
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

He was there to bring about forgiveness.  He prayed for it, and He died for it. He paid the penalty for the sin of the whole world, and he offers grace and forgiveness to all who will repent and trust in Him. 

He not only wants to forgive us, but he wants to change our hearts - to take the sin and hate, and to replace it with His Love and Grace.

Are we capable of this kind of anger and hatred?  Well, James and John were.
Luke 9:51-56
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village.

The two criminals in essence represent all the people of the world.

One filled with hate
"Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

One filled with repentance and faith in Christ
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Grace and Love have won out in many, many hearts, even at Calvary.
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."


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