Luke 23:34a - The First of the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross.

Luke 23:34a - The First of the Seven Words of Christ from the 

Luke 23:34a (KJV)  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for 
they know not what they do.  

There are seven sayings of Jesus uttered from the cross. They 
were spoken in the following order:  
1. the word of forgiveness: "Father, forgive them; for they know 
not what they do" (Luke 23:34, KJV) ;  
2. the word of salvation: "Today shalt thou be with me in 
paradise" (Luke 23:43, KJV);  
3. the word of affection: "Woman, behold thy son"; "Behold thy 
mother" (John 19:26-27, KJV);  
4. the word of despair: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 
me?" (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34, KJV);  
5. the word of physical torment: "I thirst" (John 19:28, KJV); 
6. the word of triumph: "It is finished" (John 19:30, KJV); and 
7. the word of committal: "Father, into thy hands I commend my 
spirit" (Luke 23:46, KJV) [The One Year Bible Companion re Luke 23:34] 

The 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" (Luke 
2. "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in 
paradise" (Luke 23:43). 
3. "Woman, behold thy son! ... Behold thy mother!" (John 19:26-27).
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; 
Mark 15:34). 
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is finished" (John 19:30).
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (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 
[Barclay Commentary] 

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 
Henry's Commentary)