His Request, My Reward and Release


Luke 23:34 – Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

I have been prompted through various indications to touch on the subject of forgiveness. First, this scripture was something I was hearing on last week when contiplating what to blog. Then by mere happenstance I was watching a movie with family that we randomly chose called “The Railway Man” (good movie) and the concluding theme and focus was forgiveness. To top that, we happened upon an estate sale on Saturday of this past weekend and my wife purchased some items that I went to pick up on Sunday. After obtaining the items, the man who was with the company conducting the sale walked out with me and began to talk about the goodness of our Lord. He had suffered a dibiltating injury and he was in some pain and discomfort physically but he was delighting in how the Father had bought him through the valleys of life. He and I had a conversation for about thirty minutes but near the end he described how his brother had stolen $350,000 from an inheritance he should have had. He said at the time of this incident eight years ago, he had given his life to Christ. He indicated I could be in prison at this moment if it was not for the words that Jesus implored from the cross. He said to me, I heard in my spirit, “forgive them; for they know not what they do .” Now you must understand I had not discussed ANYTHING about that scripture with him but it was to me confirmation to touch on this subject.

The first question that comes to my mind is who is the “THEM”? This request seems to be nondescript, plain, indistinct. “Father, forgive them.” He does not say, Father, forgive the priest that rendered false accusation. He does not say, Father, forgive the soldiers who have nailed me to this cross. Neither does He say, Father, forgive my disciples who have seemingly forsaken me. From His lofty position on the cross seeing the distant future He does not say Father, forgive those who will in the ages to come l turn their back to me and reject your sacrifice and sin against You, yet with those ten words He includes them. He does not mention a specific accusation or accuse a specific person, race, culture or group. Even though He being God knew the names of the soldiers that nailed Him to the cross He does not mention their names for prosterity to ridicule throughout the ages. AND no, He is not willing to mention their descriptive mission saying, forgive my murderers. There are no words of specific and directed accusation, only “Father, forgive them.”

Again, who is the THEM? Because it is not descriptive we can be included. He made room for us, too. I know the tendancy is to think that the “them” is the Roman soldiers and Jewish priests and the Roman government and it was, but it was also you and me. “For they know not what they do”. They think they know but they do not.

I am glad that He made it possible for me to live under the umbrella of the Father’s forgiveness that covers my purposefull and ignorant actions that documents my guilt and reveals my “filthy righteousness”. Yet we do not know the shallowness of our self-righteousness. We think, because we go to church regularly, or we were christened or were baptized or say our prayers or read a chapter in the Bible every day; that we do not merit His forgiveness. We think our religiousness outward performances, makes us exempt from His forgiveness but I still hear Him saying “They know not what they do.” They are trusting in their own actions and performance thereby negating my redemptive work through the cross.

The timing of the prayer is intriging also. It is in the midst of His pain, His humiliate His ultimate challenge that He petitions for “us” requesting our sanctuary, the Father’s forgiveness. Would that be our request or would it be “get them” Father.. look at what they are doing to me? Today what is our prayer for those who are terrorizing this world today. ISIS, brutally murdering innocent people of all cultures.. what is our prayer? Abusers, both governmental and domestic, viciously beating those we should be protecting, what is our prayer? Those who are being abused, tortured, and victimized in ALL countries by ALL tribes, nations,races and cultures. What is our prayer? Father, thank you for your undeserved forgiveness towards us, because we still do not realize what we do and how short we come to Your GLORY!! The heart of religion seeks and desires to control other men, cultures and nations. Jesus wants to set men free to live through Him, free, whole and forgiven. Oh how He loves us…

The real take away is also realizing IF we say the same petition it will release us to live life and not be painfully chained to the wrong visited upon us. I pray this was a highlighted message even if for just one person.

After 3….. It is time to GET UP.


Let’s revisit last week briefly. Why do I say Wednesday Christ was crucified instead of the traditional Friday? Without getting into it too deeply, Passover as described in Lev. 23:4, 5 indicates on the 10th day of the first month, Nisan, [roughly equivalent to April on our calendar], every family of Israel was to take a lamb, without blemish, and separate it from the flock. On the evening of the fourth day the Passover lamb was killed, cooked, and eaten during the night. This feast begins the celebration of the exodus from Egypt. If the clock begins on Palm Sunday, and the day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is day one. Wednesday is day four. Also remember the Jewish day begins at 6pm NOT midnight.

The period between ‘good Friday’ and ‘resurrection Sunday’ does not equal three days and three nights (72 hrs.). How can we show that as a timeline using what Jesus Himself called “the ONLY sign” that He would give indicating who He was? (Mat 12:39 – 40) How does Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday add up to make three days and three nights (72 hrs.)?  It doesn’t. Let’s look. Buried at sundown, (Good Friday (night)), Saturday (day) Saturday (night), Resurrection (Easter Sunday (day))…Total = One day and two nights! (36 hrs.)

The days on the Jewish calendar BEGAN and ENDED at sundown, not midnight. They viewed a day as NIGHT and then DAY, rather than viewing a day as DAY and then NIGHT as we do in the western culture.  This is important when it comes to counting the three days and three nights. But what about the need for Christ to be taken from the cross and buried before the Sabbath, you might ask.

The day following Passover began the feast of unleavened bread. The first and last days were “High Sabbath” days. “High Sabbath” days are mandatory rest and preparation days. This means Passover is also the “preparation day” for the “High Sabbath”. Jesus was crucified on Passover. His body was laid in the tomb just before sunset, when the “High Sabbath” of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began. His body lay in the tomb for the first three days of this feast.

 Three days and three nights – in the heart of the earth. Wednesday Jesus is on the cross from approximately 9am until His death, around 3pm. His body must be in the grave before the “High Sabbath” day, 6pm. Let’s look at the possible timeline:

The first night and day (Thursday): Wednesday 6pm to Thursday 6pm.

The second night and day (Friday): Thursday 6pm to Friday 6pm.

The third night and day (Saturday): Friday 6pm to Saturday 6pm.

Jesus is resurrected before sunset or sometime closely afterwards.

The women find the empty tomb very early on Sunday morning.

The women had to wait till the High Sabbath and following night passed, before going to the market to purchase the materials for His anointing. Then the second day they had to prepare everything. This was a long process and then they would have to again stop for the Regular weekly Sabbath to pass. The third night and day are the regular Sabbath.  At sundown, (on what we would call Saturday night), is exactly 72 hours after Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb – When the third night and day had passed – Jesus rose from the dead. 

The pronouncement He is NOT dead, He is alive.

Why 3 days? Why not 2 or 4? In thinking about this I believe it has to do with the belief widely held that the spirit of a “dead” body hovered around the body before three days. In that time span the spirit could renter the body, otherwise the death verdict was final. Looking back on the Lazarus event, in order to show the glory of God, Jesus delayed His going to Lazarus after receiving the news of his illness in order to allow for “3 days” to pass. Listen to His conversation with Martha and Mary, they truthfully declared that the “3 day” period has passed and Lazarus has been dead for four days. Perfect! Jesus declares to them “I am the resurrection and the life”. In other words, there will be no doubt, when Lazarus is resurrected (in the original Greek – “stand up”), that Jesus did it.

It was common for the family to visit the gravesite in Biblical times 3 days later for final verification of death. They would roll the stone away and check just in case. But in a similarity of His decision concerning Lazarus, Jesus was in the grave 3 days and night…dead. But He IS the resurrection; he is the “stand up”. As he declared “NO MAN” takes my life, I have the power to lay it down and to pick it up again or stand up. So after the 3rd, He “stood up”, and the verdict was given…He is not dead.

About 2 months ago here in the states (I believe in Mississippi), a man apparently died and was pronounced such by the county coroner. Just as the attendant in the morgue was going to remove the body from the body bag after many hours, the bag started violently moving and the occupant was fighting to be free of the that plastic stifling enclosure. Can you imagine how you would react if you were the attendant? Apparently, there was a misdiagnosis. But this man was not going to be content to be imprisoned and given over passively to that conclusion. There was still life to live.

That leads me to my final point. There are human abilities that we have and those abilities are accomplished through three means…thought, word or deed. There are times to where all three of those abilities sometimes cease to bring forth results. They are seemingly lifeless, inert and unresponsive. It is in that time when Jesus can call forth the resurrection, the “standup power” to the more abundant life. I know sometimes we can feel like our dreams, aspirations, calling, relationship, finances, health, has been lifeless so long that it as Martha said about her brother to Jesus, it stinks. But even after the fourth day when it seems like there is no hope, no way he is still the resurrection the standup and the life. The Word of God declares that He came to give us life and that more abundantly. The situation might appear to be dead and beyond our human abilities but Jesus the Christ is the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. So if it’s after your three day or even during your three-day death experience. Understand this, because He got up you to can get up. It is Resurrection day. Get up and LIVE!