Scripture Reading: Joshua 9:16-10:43 / Luke 23:26-56 / Proverbs 10:21-30
Jesus spoke 7 statements from the cross. One was a promise to a crucified sinner, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise”. Another was a promised provision to His mother, “Woman behold your son, behold your mother.” He asked a question of God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” One was a revelation of His agony, “I thirst”. He made a declaration of victory, “It is finished!” and one was a finalization of completion, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”
There was a saying of Christ’s that was different from all the others. It was His very first words as He hung on the cross. It was a prayer… a crucifixion prayer. Jesus didn’t pray for Himself, for His disciples or for His family but for those who were participating in His crucifixion. Jesus Prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus prayed for them because they “didn’t have a prayer”. Spiritually they were condemned but He asked for The Father’s mercy on their behalf. If you were the Heavenly Father, how would you have responded to those who were crucifying your Son? When Israel made the golden calf while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, God wanted to destroy them. If God desired to destroy the Israelites for their idolatry, The Father certainly had vengeance for the stiff-necked Israelites and Romans who mocked and crucified His Son. Jesus interceded for them because The Father’s wrath was a reality. This is why Christ died…Isaiah wrote, “And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
They “didn’t know they needed a prayer”. They knew Jesus claimed to be the Messiah but they did not believe Him. Had they known, they would surely not have rejected and crucified Him. Paul wrote, “Which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor. 2:8) Ignorance may lessen the guilt but it never excuses or removes the sin. They didn’t recognize the enormity of their actions. There are times when we are in great spiritual danger and don’t even recognize it. The greatest danger of all is the danger of dying and facing God’s eternal punishment.
We also see they “didn’t think they needed a prayer”. Jesus prayed for “them”…the soldiers, mob, Pilate, Caiaphas, Annas and religious leaders. They believed they were doing a great justice by crucifying Christ and didn’t even consider it sinful or wrong. They laughed and ridiculed the Son of God as He interceded on their behalf. Their eyes were blinded and hearts hardened by the deceit of the enemy yet Jesus prayed for them. They didn’t think they needed a prayer and didn’t know they needed a prayer. Even today, people may believe in an eternal heaven yet don’t believe Jesus is the only way to salvation. Do they have a prayer? Yes! Jesus is still praying, not from a cross but from the throne room of heaven… Let’s join Him!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!