Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3403

Jump Start # 3403

Luke 23:34 “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, diving up His garments among themselves.”

  Our verse today comes from that tragic, yet triumphant cross scene. Jesus is dying. He has been tortured, humiliated, mocked and left alone. There seems to be no one to comfort Him. And, as He dies, the skies darken, the earth shakes, and Satan believes he has won.

  While on the cross, Jesus utters seven statements. Most of them are prayers. We see:

· A final prayer

· A plea honored

· A request of love

· A question of suffering

· A confession of humanity

· A cry of completion

· A call of deliverance

  Running through these statements are the character of Jesus. He cares. He loves. He is concerned. And, one of the grand statements in this list is forgiving the death squad. Our passage reminds us of three great principles.

  First, ignorance doesn’t excuse. “They know not what they do,” is said after the Lord asks the Father to forgive them. Ignorance isn’t a free ticket out of the punishment of God. If it were, the worst thing we could do would be to teach someone the gospel. Let them remain in darkness, if it didn’t matter. But it does matter.

  This is true in most of life. If you got pulled over for driving too fast, and your plea was “I don’t know what the speed limit is,” that won’t get you very far with the police. Imagine pleading ignorance when it comes to filing our taxes. It never worked in school and it doesn’t work with God.

  The executioners did not know what they were doing, yet they needed forgiveness. They knew they were killing someone. That was obvious. They didn’t know who they were putting to death.

  Second, forgiveness is wrapped in the love and grace of God. Peter’s powerful Acts 2 sermon, opened the door to salvation by God. Forgiveness does not come without any responsibility or obligation on our part. Some see that as works. But it is not. If nothing was expected on our end of things, then everyone ought to be saved. But, that’s not the case. Salvation, as the Ephesians were told is by grace through faith. Grace is God’s part. Can’t be saved without God’s grace. Faith is our part. Unless you believe I am He, the Lord said, you will die in your sins. Grace and faith. Faith and grace.

  Third, Jesus wants to forgive. He does this willingly and openly. This is why He came. When the crippled was lowered through the roof, Jesus forgave. When the one thankful leper returned in gratitude, Jesus forgave. The penitent thief, dying beside Jesus was given forgiveness. This is what God wants. Forgiveness is the bridge upon which we can approach God and our fellowship with Him be restored and renewed.

  Now, there are some secondary lessons that ought to trickle down through us.

  Like Jesus, we need to be willing to forgive. Holding grudges, refusing to forgive isn’t the nature of God. When it comes to unfaithfulness in marriage, the options are not forgive or divorce. It ought to be forgive and restore or forgive and divorce. Jesus was wiling to forgive. Are we?

  Strained relationships in families and in congregations have splintered and hurt people for a long time. We wait for the other person to make the first move. They wait for us to make the first move. And, with that, we come to a standstill. Both parties realizing that forgiveness needs to be extended, but neither one wants to take the first step. Jesus was willing to forgive.

  Forgiveness is built upon love and grace. And often, if not most times, it doesn’t seem right, fair or the natural thing to do. We’d love to pop a guy in his nose. That’d make us feel good for a second, but that’s not the way Jesus acted. The right thing to do is what Jesus would do.

  It is said through history, that most dying executed criminals either pleaded for freedom by offering everything they owned, or they cursed until there was no longer any breath in them. Not Jesus. He stayed on that cross, knowing that He needed to be there. He had to be there. And, as Peter would later write, He uttered no threats. However, Jesus didn’t do the other extreme either. He didn’t ignore the soldiers. He could have focused upon His death and remained quiet. But He extended the branch of forgiveness to those who put Him to death.

  Don’t get even. Don’t make threats. Don’t ignore. Say a prayer and act like Jesus. Easy words to write. Very tough words to live by when someone is hurting you.

  That old rugged cross—the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain…And I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown.