“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” – Luke 23:34
Jesus makes seven statements while He was on the cross. They are recorded across the different gospels and not all seven are found in a single gospel record. Why that is the case can be several reasons. It could be based on where the person was standing and what they heard. More likely it is how God inspired them to write and record certain statements but not others. It also could be that some statements were the most important to the intended audience of the respective gospel and that is why the writer only included those to emphasize them.
We don’t know the specifics but the good news is we have the seven statements. In the Bible, the number seven represents fullness or completeness. I’m thankful for a completed work of redemption and salvation!
The first statement of Jesus on the cross is forgiveness. Depending on how you study this verse there is debate as to who this statement is said towards. Some scholars believe it was for the specific soldier who was nailing Jesus to the cross. Others that it was the Romans who were facilitating the events of the day. Another group believes it was the Romans and/or Jewish religious leaders who had put Jesus on the cross.
Here is what I believe. I believe it is all of them. We will not know for sure who Jesus was looking at that day when He made that statement or if He simply was looking up at the sky. Forgiveness is something we all can have in Christ! It isn’t limited to a soldier, a nation, or a group of people; forgiveness is a gift from God given to anyone who will believe!
With that being the case, here is a way for us to look at this verse. Jesus was looking all through the timeline. Jesus is seeing past, present, and future. As He looks, He is saying “Father, forgive them”. Because of this, we can see a promise all the way back to the cross. We often don’t know what we are doing or the grief we cause God when we sin. However, Jesus asks on our behalf for the Father to forgive us!
Jesus knew, that even though they put Him to death and were gambling for His clothes; He knew they needed forgiveness. Any of them I believe could have called out to God, believed in Jesus, ask Him to save them, and He would have. I fully believe that!
Are you forgiven? Christ will forgive you of your sins if you believe in Him and ask Him for that forgiveness. Because, He is offering it! He offered it all the way back in time on the cross. We just have to accept it, believe on Him, and trust Him!
Author Nick Dyson is the host of the Modern Age Christian Podcast.