The first saying of Jesus as He hung on the Cross, living up to His Name, which was to save His people from their sins was “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO” (Luke 23:34). These are wonderful, wonderful words of Love.
Let’s break this saying down into its individual components as we try to understand the depth of what Jesus meant.
The address was a direct and personal address to God as His Father. This was establishing the fact that He was the Son of God in whom God was well pleased. Jesus said He and the Father are one, in other words. If the Father was God, so was He. This is GOD asking GOD to forgive.
Whom was Jesus asking to forgive?
- The men and women who shouted “Crucify Him”.
- The religious leaders and their followers.
- The indifferent Pilate, the inebriated Herod
- In essence, transcending all barriers of time, all sinners, including You and Me
FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO
I wish that Jesus had spelled out what the people did not know, for which they had to be forgiven.
WHAT was it that the people DID NOT KNOW?
The people did not know
- THE WILL OF GOD
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus, in agony praying and submitting to the will of God as he prayed “Not my Will, but thy (God’s) Will be done”. What was this will of God? Isaiah 53:10 states “Yet, It was the Lord’s will to crush Him (Jesus) and cause Him (Jesus) to suffer”. It was the Lord’s will that Jesus had to suffer and die and bring salvation to all. Luke 23:24, records that PILATE handed over Jesus to the People’s Will, but the people and Pilate were mere ACTORS in the grand design of God’s Will. There were merely doing without knowing what God wanted them to be doing.
- THE TRUTH (VERITAS) about the CROSS
that it was indeed a fight of the ages, a battle that began in Genesis in the garden and now was being finished (Tetelastai) on the Cross, and its outcome.
In John 8:32 we read “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”
WHAT WAS THIS TRUTH?
To know THE Truth, we need to go back to the very beginning; to Genesis. To the time of
ADAM and EVE in the garden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God (The fall of Man), God prophesied against Satan who had caused Adam and Eve to disobey Him.
The prophesy was “I will put enmity between the seed of the woman (Jesus) and the serpent (Satan), you shall strike His heel and He will crush it’s head.”
So, Satan knew that his doom was foretold and he could do nothing but wait.
CAIN is BORN.
Satan acts, thinking he is the one who has come to deliver (the seed of the woman). Satan gets Cain to kill Abel.
God tells Cain “Sin is crouching at your door, you must master it” (Genesis 4:7)
Adam and Eve proliferate, the earth gets filled. Satan entices people to sin until the time of
NOAH’s FLOOD. God in his wrath almost destroys ALL of mankind by a flood.
From Noah and his Son’s and their wives, the world is repopulated. Satan goes back into slumber until one day when
MOSES IS BORN. Could this be the seed of the woman, the deliverer? Satan entices Pharoah and in the birth of Moses, “BABY BOYS are KILLED”.
Though Moses is miraculously saved, He could not be the one, since he himself sinned. Satan must be now at a little ease. Then came the
TIME OF THE KINGS. Satan continues to live in the LUXURY of DECEIT for a while until one
BETHLEHEM NIGHT when he is AWAKENED from his sleep, as he hears
FOOTSTEPS of the wise men (MAGI) in Herod’s court. He hurries to Herod’s palace and find’s the magi asking, “Where is he who is born the king of the Jews?”
Satan hears the heavenly angelic choir sing and the shepherds talk about this baby boy called Jesus as the one who has come to Save and deliver God’s people.
Knowing that the deliverer was born, he gets back to his ways of trying to kill the seed of the woman; and pulls out from his bag of evil tricks, the same plan as in the time of Moses (the mistaken deliverer) which he puts into action. There is another Slaughter of the INNOCENTS;
ANOTHER BLOODSHED OF BABIES. But by divine intervention, Joseph and Mary escape with Jesus to Nazareth and hence the fulfillment of the prophecy, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23)
30 years pass by and we see Jesus walking along the banks of a river and his harbinger John the Baptist, proclaiming
BEHOLD THE AGNUS DEI, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world and at the
BAPTISM OF JESUS, Satan hears along with everyone else, the very voice of God, saying
“BEHOLD”, THIS IS MY SON, WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.”
Immediately after that proclamation, Satan knew who his target was and so goes to tempt Jesus when Jesus is physically weak (yet spiritually fortified) after 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS of fasting.
Jesus engages in the the fight of the ages as he fences with Satan using the Word of God to defend himself and deal offensive blows. In all of this Jesus did not sin nor knew no sin, and He could not be touched. This only vexed Satan even more and so he devises an evil plan and entices the religious leaders, poisoning their hearts.“The religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus” (John 11:45-53)
Fearing this was insufficient, he wants to make sure that his plan to kill the seed of the woman wont fail again. So he poison’s a friend and disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot who betrays Jesus. After the
BETRAYAL OF A FRIEND, Jesus is handed over to be crucified. THE FIGHT IS ON FULL SWING . JESUS IS CRUCIFIED and Satan thinks – “hah, now it is finished. I have won”.
What Satan failed to have realized is that in all his calculations, he had not considered a critical fact into his equation. He was suddenly GUILTY OF MURDER.
God had said. “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18) and that “ the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23)
But Jesus had never sinned. Satan had no right whatsoever to kill Jesus.
THIS TICKED GOD BEYOND BELIEF and his emotions and actions is recorded in Habakkuk 3: 11-14
Vs. 11: Sun and the Moon stood still in the heavens, At the glint of your flying arrows, At the lightning of your flashing spear. When Jesus died, darkness came over the land.
Vs 12: In wrath, You strode the earth, And in your anger, you threshed the nations.
Vs. 13: You went out to deliver your people (Jesus’ birth) To save your anointed One (Jesus on the Cross) You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness (Satan crushed) You stripped him from head to toe.
Vs. 14: With his own weapon, you pierced his head. The cross, looks like an inverted sword, wielded into a head (skull). Interesting, isn’t it that the hill on which Jesus was crucified was shaped as a head, a skull and hence called Golgotha.
From verse 13 of this scripture, we see that God was INFURIATED, STRIDING THE EARTH in his WRATH and ANGER and as in the time of Noah, He could have destroyed it all, if Jesus had not stepped in and INTERCEDED, saying “Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
This is the truth that Satan does not want you to know, that at the end of the faded storm, as the mist cleared, there was one hero, one champion, one victor standing , and that was the Lord Jesus Christ.
NOW YOU KNOW THE TRUTH – There is no excuse “Captivity has been set, Salvation bought for you and me. Cause Satan is defeated and Jesus is the Champion” and this TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU AND ME FREE.
“FATHER, FORGIVE US FOR WE DID NOT KNOW”, but now we do.