They crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them..
Luke 23: 33, 34
Reading: Luke 23: 26-39
A person’s final words reveal what is on his or her heart at the time. Some dying people say a final "I love you" to those near them, or they may express the need for something practical like "I need water". Sometimes a person's dying words can reflect upon that person's faith or character.
For Jesus, during crucifixion, is was incredibly painful to speak and required great exertion. As we mentioned previously, the person undergoing crucifixion was experiencing exhaustion, shock, buildup of fluid around the heart and asphyxiation. Needless to say, words or any kind were rare among the victims of crucifixion.
Yet, shortly after being nailed to the tree, when he must have been experiencing paralysis and excruciating pain in his feet and arms, Jesus utters these words, “Father, forgive them". He was praying, perhaps only loud enough for those nearest to him to hear.
He was praying, not for himself, but for his enemies.
He prayed for the soldiers who had tortured him, viciously nailed him and who were gambling for his clothes. “Father, forgive them.”
He prayed for the crowd who were verbally assaulting him, shaking their heads and mocking him. For them he prayed, “Father, forgive them.”
He prayed for the religious leaders who, because of jealousy and spiritual blindness, had conspired with the Romans to kill him. For these he prayed, “Father, forgive them.”
That Jesus would pray for them as he hung on the cross is one of the most powerful images in all the Gospels. And yet, is that not why he was hanging there - for forgiveness?
Take a moment to think about people who have wronged you. Would you be willing now to join in the prayer that Jesus prayed for those who crucified him?
Father, forgive them. I pray for those who hurt me. Forgive them, and heal me. Dear Lord, thank you so much for bearing such pain on behalf of others, of your enemies. What a great example of unselfish love..I can never walk in your shoes. All the honour goes to you.
For the family
Continue this 15-day devotional study about Easter that is suitable for children.