Father forgive them revised faith Baptist revival 10 06
Father, Forgive Them!
Introduction… There is so much going on in our nation today… and of course across the entire world…
Just the news reports of the last few weeks can lead a person to be depressed…
I mean, how many times have we wondered to ourselves “boy, how long will God allow these things to go on…”
… We have heard it said before, and the Word of God implies it… that if our nation is not judged, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah…
Friends, I believe our nation is in a worse state at this moment… than Sodom and Gomorrah were….
So, we wonder how God has held back his wrath for so long… we wonder why we are still around… why our nation is still standing…
And please understand… our nation may not always stand…
You see… God is much more concerned with our souls than he is our financial security, our military might, our luxurious life that we all have the good fortune to live…
…And we pray for revival… we pray for spiritual awakening in our land… that would lead our nation back to God… but if that does not happen…
I don’t think God would have a problem with sending judgment upon our land… to turn our hearts back to him…
He has done it with his very own chosen nation… Israel…
Just read the Old Testament…
Whatever it takes to bring repentance… God may do…
I have studied over the last few years how revival is spreading across some parts of the world…
It is spreading in places like china, North Korea and others…
revival is spreading in nations that are oppressed and under severe domination by ruthless leaders of foreign countries…
… In the foxes book of martyrs, I remember reading of an interview with a woman who had been in prison for most of her life in one of these oppressed nations… a place where prison is serious business...
She had four children who she had not seen in years….
She was in prison because of her faith in Christ…
And the interviewer asked… don’t you wish that the oppression would cease in this nation… don’t you wish that you would be released from captivity… don’t you wish that people would be free…
And she said… OF COURSE>>>> NOT!
…She said, because if we were to lose the dark clouds of oppression… I am afraid we would loose our need for GOD!
Friends… that is where our nation is today….
We have been blessed so abundantly; we have been given so much… that we have lost our need for God…
We think we can… and have… done it all on our own…
I believe God would be happy to send judgment and oppression on our land… to bring souls into the kingdom of Heaven…. Because the most important thing that matters in this life…. Is where we are going to be when this life is over…
So… why has God not already brought judgment to our land…
ILL. Our nation started off quite differently… Jamestown, VA, was the first permanent settlement in the new world, & some of their religious practices were rather interesting…
For instance, they had church services for 2-hours each and every day of the week except Sunday…
On Sunday, they had 5 Hour services… & everybody had to attend…
Missing church was considered a sin & it was dealt with severely.
The penalty for missing one service was the loss of food rations for a whole day…
Now friends, we don’t understand what that would be like…
I could miss food rations for a few weeks and not even know it…
But the early settlers lived day to day… to miss rations for a day, could lead to death…
…A second absence resulted in a public whipping…
And the penalty for missing church services 3 times was to be placed in the stocks daily for 6 months!
Historians tell us that research has not revealed anyone in the Jamestown Colony ever missing church 3 times.
ILL. During the colonial days, in almost every colony,
an adulterer could be publicly disgraced & branded on the forehead or on the cheek…
Things are certainly different today, aren’t they?
ILL. In his book, "Whatever Became of Sin?" noted psychologist Dr. Karl Menninger wrote,
"The very word `sin,’ which seems to have disappeared (from our language), was a proud word, an ominous, serious word . . .
but the word went away….. Why?…
Doesn’t anyone sin anymore?… Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?"
…Now, I am sure that there are none of us who would like to return to the practice of severe punishments that we have just heard about…
but hasn’t the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction?
We have emphasized love and grace, and forgiveness…
but we say little about sin, wrath, & punishment.
And the result is that many today view God as an affectionate old grandfather who would never hold man accountable for sin…
In fact, our attitude seems to be, "God will forgive me; that’s His job!"….
……..A. With that in mind, go with me for a few moments to the morning Jesus was crucified…
I want us look at the cross for a few moments… & listen to these words from Luke 23:27-38.
Read Luke 23:27-38
ILL. H. G. Wells once wrote a story entitled,
"The Country of the Blind."
In this story he tells about a hidden valley shut off from the rest of the world by very high cliffs.
That valley was inhabited only by blind people, & no one there had ever been able to see.
One day, A lost & weary traveler stumbled into this country of the blind, & stayed with them for a while…
As he lived among them, he found himself falling in love with a beautiful blind woman, & began considering the possibility of marriage.
But the blind people of the community thought that this man who could see was strange…
They felt that his mind was cluttered & confused, distracted by his ability to see…
So they insisted that if he wanted to continue living among them, he would have to have his eyes put out & become blind just as they were.
….And …For a while… the man thought that he would be willing to do that… But one morning he got up & saw the beauty of the sunrise…the mist rising from the valley ,
the dew glistening on the petals of the flowers…
& he realized that he could not stay in the country of the blind… So he climbed out of the valley & returned to the world of sight.
….My friends… when Jesus came into our world He saw things that the world was unable to see.
He thought thoughts that the world had never thought.
He did deeds that the rest of the world could not do.
And our world… could not stand that.
Our world tried to pull Him down to its own level…
But Jesus refused to be a part of the darkness of this world.
And there… the two stories lose their analogy…
Because you see… Jesus did not run away from our darkness….
Instead, He conquered it.
And the place where that victory took place is a hill called Calvary, Golgotha, the "place of the skull," on an old rugged cross.
…. The gospel writers say that Jesus spoke 7 times while hanging on the cross…
And His first words were those that we read just a few moments ago, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."
Transition… Now many of us have heard & read those words many, many times before… & they are precious to us…
But I think that a lot of people misunderstand what Jesus is doing.
And it is important that we don’t misunderstand.
So what is Jesus doing?..
Well, the answer is obvious, "Jesus is praying."
But wait a minute, men don’t pray on crosses do they...
We pray in gardens. We pray in church buildings & synagogues.
We pray where we can get away from the noise & confusion of the world & think clear thoughts.
But we don’t pray on crosses.
Men curse on crosses.
Men scream on crosses.
Men cry on crosses.
Men experience pain on crosses.
But you certainly don’t pray to forgive others on crosses.
ILL… Friends, the Romans were well known for getting revenge .
They were constantly waging war on countries that had done them wrong, seeking revenge.
The Jews felt much the same way.
Part of their law was "an eye for an eye, & a tooth for a tooth, & blood for blood."
You don’t hang on a cross & pray for others.
You especially don’t pray for their forgiveness.
…And yet, that is exactly what Jesus did as He hangs suspended between heaven & earth, dying on the cross.
…Have you ever wondered… "What kind of mind designed the cross?"
I mean, we can look at some of the things we call "entertainment," today… the horror movies that are produced today, & we can wonder, "Who in the world thinks up these things?"
I grew up in an age of innocence where monsters were people like Frankenstein…
You almost laughed at them because they were funny, not fearful.
When I was a kid I loved to watch those old dubbed over Godzilla movies… they were simple… not very graphic… obviously fake… and I LOVED them…
But today, all kinds of grotesque things parade before our eyes.
Who sits around & thinks them up?
Who thought up the cross?
Who thought about a person having nails driven into his wrists & feet, watching him die a slow death that drags out over hours & sometimes days?
Who recognized the fact that the human body has a nerve running along the arms that they were to specifically hit as they drove those spikes in… and when that nerve was hit…. Tremendous fiery pain shot through the entire body…
Who decided to place the arms and legs in such a position as to have the person unable to breath, unless they pulled themselves up, and put pressure back on that nerve, to bring the worst kind of torment imaginable…
What kind of twisted mind thought up something like that?
Jesus hangs there… experiencing the result of man’s twisted thinking… & He begins to… pray.
Now I want you to notice something…. Luke uses an unexpected verb tense when he wrote, "Jesus said, `Father, forgive them.’"
You see, the verb tense of the word "said" expresses "continuous, repeated action."
It was not just once that Jesus prayed this prayer, but many times.
We have it recorded once, but there is a big difference between the original Greek and our English language today…
Again & again Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."
I wonder friends…. I wonder just how many times He prayed that prayer…
Did He pray it when they beat Him with the cat-o-nine-tails as the flesh was being ripped from his body…?
Did He pray it when they thrust a crown of thorns upon His head, put a purple robe around His shoulders, & mocked Him by saying, "Hail, King of the Jews"?
Do you suppose He prayed that prayer as He was carrying His cross up the hill?
Did He pray that prayer as they were driving the spikes into His wrists & feet?
Did He pray it as He was hanging there, His life’s blood dripping to the ground?
Do you suppose Jesus prayed that prayer when He looked into the angry faces shouting, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself"?
How many times did Jesus pray that prayer?
Luke says that it was not just once, but again & again He prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."
…… So… Jesus was praying.
But then I wonder if we understand what He was praying for?
I believe that there have been some false conclusions about that.
Some have said that Jesus was praying for a "blanket pardon for all the people who participated in His crucifixion.
They say, He was just going to forgive everybody who had anything to do with the crucifixion..."
Friends… I don’t believe that one bit…
Because God never forces His forgiveness on anybody.
He is not going to walk up to a cursing, mocking priest shouting "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" & say, "I’m going to forgive you whether you want to be forgiven or not."
Jesus pays the price, & God offers forgiveness… It is free to any who want it… But He never forces it on anyone.
I also don’t believe that Jesus is excusing ignorance when He says, "...they do not know what they are doing."
There are some people who think that we ought to keep quiet about Jesus because if we tell people about Him, then they are accountable to God for what they know…
They say that these people are better off if they don’t know anything... Then God will just excuse their ignorance…
But friends…that goes against what we are told to do elsewhere in the Bible… so that is not what Jesus is praying at all.
In Acts 3:17-19 we hear the words of Simon Peter as he preaches shortly after the Day of Pentecost.
Read Acts 3:17-19
Peter is saying, "You acted in ignorance. No question about that. And when you acted in ignorance you fulfilled what God had foretold through the prophets….
Christ had to suffer for the sins of all the people."
But He doesn’t go on to say, "Jesus prayed for God to forgive you, so you are all forgiven."… no…
Instead, Peter says, "Now repent ….repent & turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away."
… Then there are those who have even suggested that Jesus is rewarding those who crucified Him.
They reason, "It was God’s will that Jesus die for the sins of men, & these people were simply carrying out the will of God by hanging Him on the cross… So they deserve a reward instead of condemnation."
Oh come on folks... That’s blasphemy.
They were not performing the will of God… They were performing the will of the devil himself.
Yes, God took their terrible crime & transformed it into forgiveness & redemption.
The Bible plainly tells us that God can take anything and everything and turn it into good,
But that was not their doing, it was God’s doing.
B. So what is Jesus praying for? When He prays, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing," what is He really praying for?
Well friends, to answer that we need to understand the word "forgive."
There are different Greek words used in the NT for "forgive.
One word means "to forget, to wipe out completely."
God wipes away our sins & forgets them, never to remember them again… But that is not the word that is used here.
The word that is used here is found also in Matthew 19:14.
There it is used when children are brought to Jesus, & the apostles try to keep the children from coming to Him…
Listen to it… "Jesus said, `Let the little children come to me, & do not hinder them.’"
The word that is translated "let" in "Let the little children come..."
is the same word translated "forgive" when Jesus said "Forgive them" on the cross.
So what is Jesus saying?
He is not saying, "Forgive the little children." He is saying, "Let them come. Don’t stop them. Don’t hinder them from coming. Don’t stand in their way. Don’t interfere."
… That same word is used again in Matthew 27 when the soldiers reached up with a sponge filled with vinegar to wet the lips of Jesus.
Turn and read Matthew 27:48-49
There’s that word again, & it is translated, “now Leave him alone” …
some translations say let us see or let him be….
The word is used the same way in both places.
….. "Don’t interfere……. Don’t stop the children from coming……. Don’t wet his lips with a sponge."
That is exactly what Jesus is saying on the cross when He prays for them.
He is saying to God, "Don’t rush to inflict your wrath upon these people… Hold it back… Don’t interfere."
….How would a righteous God feel when a wicked world crucifies His Son?
Friends, how would we feel?
God would be angry, & His wrath would fall upon them….
But when Jesus prayed that prayer, God held back His wrath…
My friends… Even now the prayer of Jesus is still being honored. God is still holding back His wrath.
"Hold back the wrath," Jesus prayed. "Give Roman soldiers who drive nails into the wrists a chance to repent.
Give angry crowds a chance to get right with God.
Give all of the sinning & evil people a chance to be redeemed.
I’m paying the price, Father.
Hold back your wrath.
Give them the chance to be forgiven, cleansed, & made new."
SUM…….. Friends…You & I are here today because the prayer that Jesus prayed 2,000 years ago..... is still being honored by God in heaven today...
That’s why the sun shines on the good & the bad.
That’s why the rain falls on the just & the unjust.
That’s why sometimes evil people seem to prosper while good people don’t.
But one day my friends…the nail pierced wrists of Christ will be taken away… & God’s wrath will be unleashed.
…And what happens to us then… depends on what we have done with Jesus.
For 2,000 years His disciples have been going into the world telling people that God paid the price on Calvary’s tree for their sins.
For 2,000 years they have been inviting people to come & be forgiven of their sins.
…Maybe we’ll have another 2,000 years to preach the message.
But maybe we won’t.
Right now, though, that prayer is still being honored.
Right now forgiveness is still offered.
God will never force it on us. But He offers it, makes it available, & paid the price for it.
….It is ours for the taking…
CONCL. We are about to have a time of invitation, which is simply a time where we will all stand and sing a hymn.
It is a very special time- because maybe, just maybe, there is someone here who only now has come to realize that Jesus died on that cross for you.
He invites you… & He is waiting to see what you are going to do.
If you would like to invite Jesus into your heart today, if you would like to accept that free gift that he has to offer, if you would like to know that you know that you will spend eternity in Heaven, then you could come to Him today….
Maybe you are a Christian here this evening… and God has made you aware of the great sacrifice…. And tremendous love Christ Jesus has offered each and every one of us…
Maybe you realize today that you are not living your life for the one who gave you life…
Maybe we realize today that we need to commit to a much deeper relationship with the one who prayed time and time again for our forgiveness… and then paid the price for us to have that forgiveness…
The invitation is extended… We pray that you will respond to it as we stand & as we sing.