"Father forgive them for they know not what they do"
It is true that the first and last statements from the cross both address the Father, but how interesting that this very first saying, should be in grace and mercy on behalf of those who were putting him to death and treating him so shamefully! I have 'paired' this first saying of our Lord Jesus with the mocking accusation from the foot of the cross:
"Thou that destroyest the temple and rebuildest it in 3 days, save thyself and come down from the cross"
I realise that this first saying was possibly directed at and in response to the actions of those cruel Roman soldiers, but for the purposes of this small study I have put it alongside this statement for comparative purposes. Their statement shows just how much they had misunderstood the teaching of the Lord Jesus, and in particular the temple analogy. Remember that 'threatening to destroy the temple' was one of the things they had accused him of before Pilate, in an attempt to add some sort of credence to the trial. It only showed how little they understood of him, for the scripture says "but he spake of the temple of his body". They didn't appreciate what they were doing in terms of eternity and God's plan of salvation, they thought they were putting an end to this man who said he was the Son of God, but in reality they were fulfilling God's will in relation to His Son. They were fulfilling the original meaning of his teaching regarding the temple of his body! He would die and rise again on the third day. How tremendous to remind ourselves once again that they could do nothing that had not been permitted by the Father, they would only fulfil the scriptures concerning him and his death! He would not and could not come down from the cross, for he had humbled himself in coming into the world and had become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He would complete the work that the Father had given him to do, and would not turn aside from that pathway. Remember that it was this pathway that made a way of salvation for you and me, and we praise God for that today!
Tomorrow we will look at the second saying from the cross...
Yours in Christ, Mark