1. Hello, listening friends.
2. We are delighted that you tuned in to this new series of messages;
3. and this series of messages comes from the seven words that Jesus uttered on the cross.
4. There is a famous movie that is showing around the world called, “The Passion of Christ,”
5. and we see Jesus, in that film, uttering all those seven words;
6. and, today, I want to begin by talking to you about a power that is not too well known to too many people.
7. I am talking about the power of forgiveness;
8. and the first words on the cross that are recorded are an exercise of that power of forgiveness.
9. In Luke 23:34,
10. it says, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.’”
11. Dr. Luke, the historian, was intrigued by Jesus’ willingness to forgive.
12. Forgiveness was not a mark of strength in his Gentile culture;
13. but, 700 years earlier, the Prophet Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would intercede for His murderers.
14. Isaiah said, “He bore the sin of many.”
15. He would plead in prayer on behalf of sinners.
16. He would use His special relationship with His Father to forgive His haters;
17. and Jesus used the word, “Abba,”
18. which had never been used before by anyone to address God.
19. It is a word that indicates intimacy.
20. It is a word of home and heart.
21. It’s a word of kinship between child and father.
22. Certainly, we can pray for anyone and be sure that God hears us;
23. but I want you to see the uniqueness of Christ in these last words from the cross.
24. Jesus did not pray the usual prayers of a dying man.
25. Whenever anyone is standing between time and eternity, he thinks first of his own forgiveness by God;
26. but Jesus did not say, “Father, forgive Me.”
28. Our Lord did not ask for personal forgiveness.
30. for the Scripture said, “He was tempted, as we are, but without sin.”
31. Jesus could have prayed that God would take Him quickly, but He did not.
32. Jesus did not pray, “Father, avenge Me.”
33. If there was ever injustice done anywhere in the world, it was done on that day.
34. My listening friend, please listen to what I’m going to ask you.
35. Do you feel that you are being treated unfairly by others?
36. Then, think with me on this.
37. The very God in the flesh, who created all the iron in the world, was nailed to a cross with iron nails.
38. The very God in the flesh, who created all the roses in the world, was crowned with thorns.
39. The very God in the flesh, who created all the wood in the world, was nailed to a wooden cross;
40. and you talk about injustice?
41. You talk about what is fair and what is unfair?
42. You talk about His right to ask to be avenged?
43. He had at His disposal untold numbers of invisible spiritual powers.
44. He could have called upon them to avenge Him;
45. but, no, He didn’t pray that.
46. He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”
47. The word, “forgive,” means “send away from them the punishment for the wrong they have done.”
48. Our Lord Jesus Christ, here, exercised what is within His power alone,
49. for even His enemies said, “Only God can forgive sins.”
50. They nailed Him to the cross because He used His ability to forgive human sins.
51. What does this say to you and me, my listening friend?
53. His prayer for forgiveness ought to give us confidence that our sins can be forgiven.
54. If God could forgive the cold hearts of the Roman soldiers who nailed Him,
55. if God could forgive the sadistic crowd that mocked Him,
56. if God could forgive all of these, then, no one can say, “God can’t forgive me.”
57. Some of you may say, “I have murdered people with my loose tongue.
58. God could not forgive me.”
59. “I have committed adultery against the tenderest vows that a man, or a woman, could make.
60. God could not forgive me.”
61. “I have been dishonest in my business and stolen from others.
62. God could not forgive me.”
63. “I have hated with pure hatred and viciousness. God could not forgive me.”
64. “I have cursed God and doubted Him and His power. God cannot forgive me.”
65. Listen, my listening friends,
66. if Jesus could pray for those who were on the outer limits of sin, He can forgive you and me,
67. for Jesus came from Heaven so that He may end the vicious cycle of hate and sin.
68. Jesus, hanging on the cross, was the magnet that drew all the hate and anger of the world to Himself,
69. and God said, “That’s where anger, hurt, hate, unforgiveness and bitterness end...”
70. and that must be the response of all those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
71. I want to tell you a story.
72. It’s a little long, but I want you to concentrate with me.
73. It is a story about a young pilot by the name of Jacob DeShazer.
74. He flew on the first raid over Tokyo in World War II.
75. He was shot down, but he survived and was captured.
76. He was sent to a Japanese prison and was tortured regularly;
77. and, there, he developed an unbelievably intense hatred for the Japanese.
78. He lived and dreamed with only one thought—to kill his tormentors.
79. He hated them with perfect hate;
80. and, then, one day, he found a copy of the New Testament.
81. He opened It and read these very words from the lips of Jesus.
82. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing...”
83. and Jacob DeShazer became a new man, and his heart was changed.
84. His heart used to be filled with hate;
85. but, now, his heart was filled with love;
86. so, after the war, he became a Christian missionary to the people of Japan.
87. He wrote his story—the story of himself as a Japanese war prisoner.
88. One day, that pamphlet was handed to a Japanese man in a train station.
89. This man’s name was Fuchida.
90. Captain Fuchida led the attack on Pearl Harbor against Jacob’s country.
91. His attack killed many, many men.
92. Captain Fuchida was a national hero in Japan;
93. but, after the defeat, he was a disillusioned man.
94. He dreamed of a world without war, and it seemed totally impossible;
95. then, that day in the train station, he opened the pamphlet and he read the story of Jacob DeShazer.
96. He read of a man whose heart was changed by the power of the Gospel.
97. He read the words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
98. Right then, Captain Fuchida was transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.
99. He began to share the Gospel with his own people.
100. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to groups of thousands in his own small town.
101. My listening friend, that is the power of forgiveness.
102. When Jesus said, “Forgive them…,” He interceded for all people.
103. His forgiveness included the Roman soldiers.
104. It included all of His enemies.
105. His forgiveness included the jeering mob.
106. There is no limit to the circle that Jesus’ prayer included;
107. and, today, I want to tell you, my listening friend, that His forgiveness includes you and me.
108. Some of you may be saying, “Wait, wait, wait just a minute. What do you mean, they did not know what they were doing?
109. Judas knew that he was betraying his best friend.
110. Caiaphas knew that he had bribed liars to testify against Jesus.
111. The mob knew that they were screaming at a righteous man.
112. They knew what they were doing...”
113. but, here’s what Jesus meant:
114. on the deepest level, they did not know what they were doing.
115. They did not understand the enormity of what they were doing.
116. They did not understand the significance of what they were doing.
117. They did not know that the torturous cross was going to become a sign of peace and victory.
118. They did not know that this horrible event was going to transform millions of lives around the world.
119. They did not know what they were doing;
120. but, the other thing I want to tell you about this statement is this:
121. in forgiving His killers, Jesus was practicing His preaching,
122. for Jesus said, “Forgive those who sin against you…” and, then, He got up on the cross and did it.
123. If our Lord had only taught forgiveness,
124. then, He got up on the cross and cursed, all of His teaching would have been forgotten by now.
125. Our Lord lived as good as He preached.
126. What Jesus did on the cross was the beginning of what He has been doing ever since,
127. for, now, He is making intercession for the believers.
128. Right now, He is our Advocate with the Father.
129. Right now, He is still forgiving, again and again.
130. My friend, let me ask you this:
131. what about your forgiving spirit?
132. Men sometimes think that forgiveness makes them cowards.
133. Women sometimes think that forgiveness makes them weak;
134. but that’s not true.
135. Forgiving gives you power that is indescribable.
136. Forgiveness gives you freedom that is truly liberating.
137. My listening friend, when you refuse to forgive someone,
138. you become a slave to the person you refuse to forgive.
139. Some people may say,
140. “I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget.”
141. That is understandable, because we cannot erase the memory overnight;
142. but God can.
143. When God said, “I forgive and forget,” it does not mean that He is going to have a case of amnesia.
144. It means that He will not hold sin against us.
145. It means that He will not avenge and accuse;
146. so, my listening friend, the way to begin to be liberated is this:
147. practice the power of forgiveness on a regular basis,
148. and the way to do that is to pray for the person whom you hate,
149. and, if you still can’t forgive them, ask God to forgive them through you;
150. but, if you are a person who has never experienced the forgiveness of God,
151. you can do that today.
152. If you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and say, “Father, forgive me for Jesus’ sake,”
153. He will immediately forgive you
154. for the sake of Him who said, “Father, forgive them...”
155. and, then, write to us and tell us about your experience of forgiveness.
156. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.