Luke 23:34 - The First of the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross.
Luk.23:34; The First of the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross.
Luke 23:34a (KJV) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for
they know not what they do.
This is the first of seven utterances of Jesus as He hung upon
the cross, sometimes called the Seven Words. No gospel writer
mentions more than three, nor less than one, of these utterances.
Arranged in point of time the seven "utterances" are as follows:
1. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (v.
2. "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in
paradise" (v. 43).
3. "Woman, behold thy son! ... Behold thy mother!" (see on John
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46;
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is finished" (see on John 19:30).
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (see on Luke
23:46). [SDA Commentary]
The Gospels report seven utterances by Jesus as He hung on the
cross. Three of these can be assigned to the first three hours, between
9 a.m. and 12 noon. Four can be assigned to the next three hours,
12-3 p.m., during which the scene was shrouded in darkness.
It is traditional during Good Friday services to meditate on
these seven utterances. Surely there is much here for us to ponder.
[Victor Bible Background Commentary]
Jesus' first and last words from the cross were a prayer to His
Father. [Disciple SB]
Jesus asked God to forgive the people who were putting him to
death--Jewish leaders, Roman politicians and soldiers, bystanders--and God
answered that prayer by opening up the way of salvation even to Jesus'
murderers. The Roman centurion and soldiers who witnessed the crucifixion
said, "Surely he was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54). Soon many
priests were converted to the Christian faith (Acts 6:7). Because we are
all sinners, we all played a part in putting Jesus to death. The
gospel--the Good News--is that God is gracious. He will forgive us and give
us new life through his Son. [Life Application SB]
The petition: Father, forgive them. One would think that he
should have prayed, "Father, consume them; (Matthew Henry's
Heaven viewed with grief and amazement Christ hanging upon the
cross, blood flowing from His wounded temples, and sweat tinged with
blood standing upon His brow. From His hands and feet the blood fell,
drop by drop, upon the rock drilled for the foot of the cross. The
wounds made by the nails gaped as the weight of His body dragged upon
His hands. His labored breath grew quick and deep, as His soul
panted under the burden of the sins of the world. All heaven was filled
with wonder when the prayer of Christ was offered in the midst of His
terrible suffering,--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they
do." Luke 23:34. Yet there stood men, formed in the image of God,
joining to crush out the life of His only-begotten Son. What a sight for
the heavenly universe! DA760
Jesus gave a wonderful example and illustration of his own
teaching. Over and over he had taught forgiveness of hurt and wrongs. If
anyone had the right to be vengeful, he did; and he had the power to
avenge. But in longsuffering and love he instead prayed and asked
forgiveness for all those who persecuted him. [Daily Devotional Bible]
No other religion "teaches" people to pray for the forgiveness
of enemies;.... the Christian bears reproaches and persecutions with
patience, and prays that God would pardon those who injure them, and save
them from their sins. (Barnes' Notes)
Christian forgiveness is an amazing thing.... There is nothing so
lovely and nothing so rare as Christian forgiveness. When the
unforgiving spirit is threatening to turn our hearts to bitterness, let us
hear again our Lord asking forgiveness for those who crucified him
Jesus forgave those who nailed him to the cross. Here in the
most unjust situation in history, forgiveness was extended without
limit. If Christ forgave in this way from the cross, no sin we've
committed is too great for his forgiveness. As we experience his
forgiveness, we are freed to forgive those who have sinned against us. Christ
helps us to release our bitterness and resentment, which only imprison
us. His forgiveness empowers us to be forgiving people - forgiving
ourself as well as those who have hurt us. [Life Recovery SB]
From Victim to Victor
In his book, Beneath the Cross of Jesus, A. Leonard Griffith
tells the story of a young Korean exchange student, a leader in
Christian circles at the University of Pennsylvania. The student left his
apartment on the evening of April 25, 1958, to mail a letter to his
parents. As he turned from the mailbox, he was met by eleven
leather-jacketed teenage boys. Without a word, they beat him
with a blackjack, a
lead pipe, and their shoes and fists - and left him lying dead in the
All of Philadelphia cried out for vengeance. The district
attorney planned to seek the death penalty for the arrested youth. And
then, the following letter arrived, signed by the boy's parents and
twenty other relatives in Korea: "Our family has met together and we
have decided to petition that the most generous treatment possible
within the laws of your government be given to those who have committed
this criminal action.... In order to give evidence of our sincere
hope contained in this petition, we have decided to save money to
start a fund to be used for the religious, educational, vocational,
and social guidance of the boys when they are released.... We have
dared to express our hope with a spirit received from the gospel of
our Savior Jesus Christ who died for our sins."
When you forgive, you are no longer a victim but a victor.
[God's Little Devotional Bible]
"Today you will meet all kinds of unpleasant people; they will
hurt you, and injure you, and insult you; but you cannot live like
that; you know better, for you are a man in whom the spirit of God
dwells." Others may have in their hearts the unforgiving spirit, others
may sin in ignorance; but we know better. We are Christ's men and
women; and we must forgive as he forgave. [Barclay Commentary]
He went by the cross to the crown, and we must not think of
going any other way, or of being perfected but by sufferings. (Matthew