The Forgiving Heart Of Jesus

Jesus’ heart is a heart that beats with compassionate forgiveness for people.  There are three evidences of this in Luke 23:32-42.
First, the fact that Jesus was hanging on the cross was evidence of His desire to bring forgiveness to people.  The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22, NIV).  Jesus shed His blood on the cross as the perfect human sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.
Second, as He hung on the cross, He prayed for forgiveness for His executioners.  As Jesus was writhing in agony, He prayed:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. – Luke 23:34 (NIV)

He knew that these people who were mocking Him and killing Him did not understand the role that they were playing.  By crucifying Jesus, they were ushering in a new age and a new covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12).  Jesus knew what they were doing.  They would not have been allowed to do it unless it was the Father’s will.
Third, Jesus forgives the sins of the criminal on the cross next to Him.  By a simple confession of faith, this criminal was pardoned at the last possible moment!  Jesus, the One who has the authority to forgive sins, forgives this vile offender who truly believed.  When this sinner took his last breath on earth, his next one was taken in paradise with Jesus.
Nearly 2000 years later, Jesus’ heart still beats for forgiveness.  Those who put their faith and trust in Christ are pardoned by God’s grace.  He laid down His life and He still asks the Father to forgive us for we are like helpless sheep who don’t know what we’re doing.  We’re like the criminal on the cross who proclaim our faith by repentance, confession and baptism.  We’re all guilty and we know it.  We’re all sinners and we know it.  We all deserve death and destruction, but instead we get forgiveness and freedom.  It’s all by His grace and mercy.  We cannot earn it or buy it.  We cannot be good enough for it.  It’s a gift and we must merely accept it.  It costs us nothing, but it cost Jesus everything.  And He was willing to pay the price for our salvation.  Hallelujah!  Praise His name!

Luke 23:32-43 (NIV)

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


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