Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Luke 23: 34, 35
As we said in yesterday's devotion, forgiveness was the reason that Jesus was on the cross - to show both God's justice and his mercy.
One of the reasons why Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them,” was because he was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy:
“He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” The cross, with Jesus hanging on it, is the supreme act of intercession for sinners and 'transgressors'. Even now, risen and glorified, Jesus remains the “one mediator between God and mankind”
Another reason why Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them,” was because he was putting into practice the principle he had taught in the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Jesus, the persecuted, prayed for His persecutors.
But there is another reason why Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them" that day. Someone else was included in that prayer. You. Me. We are numbered among the “them” Jesus was praying for that day.
In a profound spiritual sense, the entire human race was there at the crucifixion. The death of Jesus transcends time. Jesus’ prayer voiced what Jesus was doing on the cross. He was offering himself to God his Father in your place, in my place, as an offering of atonement. In this moment he was both the High Priest pleading for atonement for the human race and the offering itself. This sacrificial act was for those who had come before and for those who would come after just as much as it is for those who hear his words today.
Lord, your love is deep, pure and sacrificial. It is beyond comprehension for me. All I can do is thank you from the bottom of my heart for being willing to be my substitute.
For the family
Continue doing this 15-day devotional study about Easter that is suitable for children.