The things that a person says in their final moments before death is very telling. To that end I invite you to come with me tonight as together we lean in close to the Cross and listen to Jesus’ final words.
Here was a man Who 33 years earlier had been born in a stable. He was brought up in Nazareth, baptized at the age of 30, and had spent every moment of His life doing good. He is the very Son of God. Yet He is also One Who is hated and has been condemned to die. The excited almost jubilant crowd had cried out “Crucify Him” and now there He hangs, nailed to the Cross. His enemies watch as His life’s blood drains away and covers the black canvas of man’s sin in crimson red - the color of grace, mercy, and salvation. But Wait A Minute…..Listen!......He is about to say something!.... “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This ladies and gentlemen is Jesus praying from the Cross. He is praying for the very ones who condemned Him. He is praying for those who rejected Him. He is praying for those who nailed Him to that Cross. I think it highly likely that He said those same words through that incredibly painful and tortuous march of carrying His own Cross......”Father, forgive them.” I believe that as He fell in exhaustion to the ground upon finally reaching the location of His execution that He again spoke those words......“Father forgive them.” As the soldiers took hold of his horribly beaten, mangled and bloody body and threw Him down hard against the splintery wood of the Cross I can still hear Him saying......”Father forgive them.” As the blow of a soldiers hammer sent those cold steel spikes tearing through His flesh I can again hear Him saying...... ”Father forgive them.” As He is lifted up, His Cross dropping with a heavy thud into the ground I can still hear Him saying......”Father forgive them.” The crowd jeers Him, they mock Him, and still He prays....”Father forgive them.” The soldiers beneath His Cross are laughing and gambling for His garments and still He prays....”Father forgive them.” He had been stood in a corner, whipped and beaten beyond recognition, spat upon, crowned with thorns, and now here He is, nailed to the Cross, struggling even to breathe and still I can hear Him saying......”Father forgive them.” Through it all Jesus prayed not for Himself, but for others. The absolute greatest need of every person who will ever live is that of forgiveness. You can have perfect health, you can have more money than you know what to do with, you can have a large circle of friends and a high education but none of those amount to anything at all if un-repented un-forgiven sin stands between you and God. It is only because of that most perfect demonstration of love that there is freely available to all who will accept it the very thing which Christ prayed from the Cross - Forgiveness! But also understand this: only those who come to that Cross confessing their sin and REPENTING of their sin can ever receive that forgiveness. What about you? Have you given your heart to Him? If you have not taken that step of faith I encourage you to do so this very night. Why the urgency? Because every night there are approximately 80,000 people who go to bed and never wake up. You could be one of those people tonight and so you need to make absolutely certain that you are prepared. Don’t wait a moment longer. It’s the most important decision that you will ever make.