Famous Last Words: Pardon

Since we are only a few weeks away from Easter and the celebration of Christ’s triumphant victory over death, I would like to take time to look at His last words from the cross to help us see the underlying message that still resonates for believers today.

Today, the first from Luke 23:34…

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We have a round piece of glass six feet in diameter that covers our wooden dining room table. We bought it when we first got the table because we knew that with the constant parade of meals our kitchen produces, it wouldn’t be long until the finish would be ruined. Not so long ago, our grown daughter sat on the table top and leaned forward putting all her weight right on the edge. Not surprisingly, the glass snapped! She felt really bad, and apologized profusely saying over and over that she “didn’t think that would happen” and “didn’t mean to do it.” While, of course, that’s the truth, the reality is that whether the deliberate intent was there or not, the glass was (and still is) broken, and it was her fault.

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You know, I think that’s part of what Jesus was communicating to us from the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” No one knows the exact chronology of when He spoke this sentence, but one might imagine that they were uttered shortly after His cross was lifted into place. His reaction to the gawking eyes of onlookers was not hostility, but rather compassion. His heart of concern motivated him to call out to the Heavenly Father on behalf of all of them… including those who were at that precise moment carrying out His execution. His request was presented despite their lack of understanding for what they were actually doing. Sure, they were aware that a person was about to be killed, but I think we can also rightly assume that the most of the people on the scene had no idea that the man they stared at was anyone other than a common criminal, and certainly not the divine Son of God! But, pay close attention to this easily overlooked detail… Their unconscious understanding and unintentional nature of their actions did nothing to erase their accountability (because Jesus pinpoints them all as in need of forgiveness.) And only the guilty need a pardon.

People today are little different than they were then, and still default to pleading ignorance when they can’t or don’t foresee the consequences of their actions. But that excuse doesn’t work on a spiritual level. The plain truth of scripture is that whether they/we mean to or not, ALL people have broken God’s law and are guilty of sin. (Rom 3:23)

But thank goodness, that isn’t the only thing Jesus said in His request. Even in His dying moments, He understood the pitiful state of humanity and interjected a plea for mercy. And it’s key to see that juxtaposed to His request, His own life was in process of being presented to the Father as the necessary price that would make it possible for the request to be granted!

So, don’t read this as another blog to help focus attention on the Easter season. Ask yourself a serious question.  “What Jesus would say if He were looking at me right now?” Would He see the guilt of sin still marring your life? Or would He see that your guilt has been erased through faith in His sacrificial death… and that you are now completely pardoned and totally free!

“For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved”
  – Romans 10:13

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