But Jesus Was Saying … (1)
But Jesus Was Saying … (1)
Jesus—“God is salvation”—the One prophesied whose name was proclaimed Immanuel, “with us is God” (Isaiah 7:14), gave Himself for you and me. Not only did He give Himself willingly to die in my place, He did it with a most amazing attitude, with a most excellent example, and most worthy words. He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). This is the attitude we must have (Philippians 2:5). We must turn our eyes from all else and fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). This is the example we must follow. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1Peter 2:21). We are often reminded of His attitude and example at the cross, but how often do we reflect on the powerful messages of His words in His hours of suffering? Jesus’ mind is reflected in His words. In situations not so harsh, our words might tend to be different, “But Jesus was saying …”
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
You or I might say, “Father, rain down fire from heaven and consume my persecutors.” But Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” How far removed is my attitude from the words of Jesus?
This forgiving intercession is part of the Savior. It is even included in the prophesies concerning His sacrifice. “He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). Though these had beaten, spit upon, ridiculed, slapped, and otherwise tormented Him even before hanging Him on the cross, Jesus held no grudge or ill will. His words show just the opposite. He was forgiving those people then and there for the wrongs being done to Him. This was not a forgiveness of all sins of which they were guilty. He had forgiven sins several time while on the earth to show His authority as the Son of God (cf., Mark 2:5,10; Luke 5:24; 7:47-49), but this is a petition to the Father for wrongs done to Him. This mediatorial petition is also explicatory, that is, it explains His death. He died so that all who come to Him in sincere obedience and a repentant heart can be forgiven of sins. Jesus knows that many will take the wrong path (Matthew 7:13) but he also wants all to repent, turn from that path, and be forgiven (2Peter 3:9).
Are we willing to forgive those who wrong us? We tend to have a retaliatory attitude at even the smallest offense. What feeling sweeps over you if someone cuts you off in traffic or takes your place in a line? Do you ever think ill of someone who says a cross word, or openly disagrees with you? What about in the case of someone, perhaps with even more experience in a matter, giving you constructive criticism? We don’t even come close in our lives to experiencing the wrongs that Jesus suffered at the cross. Is a servant above his Master?
The Plan and the Purpose
Jesus understood why He was on the cross. He knew the plan. Those who were tormenting Him so, did not understand that they were playing a role in that plan. Jesus, however, knew that what they were doing was needed—needed by all mankind. The apostle Paul makes an observation about this very thing. In speaking of God’s wisdom, he says that, “none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Corinthians 2:8). As Jesus stood before the people and Pilate, the people cried, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25). How ironic that this is precisely the reason Jesus gave Himself—so that His blood would be available for these people and generations to follow. Thankfully, many of the people in Jerusalem during that time, did experience the forgiveness brought about through His blood (Acts 2).
None of this is to say that ignorance is an excuse. In fact, God is very clear on this matter. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). Nor is any of this to say that it is acceptable to sin since Jesus blood has been shed. God is equally clear on this matter. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4).