Far-Reaching Forgiveness-Luke 23:32-43

Luke 23:32-43 “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, 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 the Christ of God, 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 Christ? 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, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luca 23:32-43 “Ora, altri due, malfattori, erano condotti per essere messi a morte insieme a lui. 33 Quando furono giunti al luogo detto «il Teschio», vi crocifissero lui e i malfattori, uno a destra e l’altro a sinistra. 34{Gesù diceva: «Padre, perdona loro, perché non sanno quello che fanno».} Poi divisero le sue vesti, tirandole a sorte. 35 Il popolo stava a guardare. E anche i magistrati si beffavano di lui, dicendo: «Ha salvato altri, salvi se stesso, se è il Cristo, l’Eletto di Dio! » 36 Pure i soldati lo schernirono, accostandosi, presentandogli dell’aceto e dicendo: 37 «Se tu sei il re dei Giudei, salva te stesso!» 38 Vi era anche questa iscrizione sopra il suo capo: «Questo è il re dei Giudei». 39 Uno dei malfattori appesi lo insultava, dicendo: «Non sei tu il Cristo? Salva te stesso e noi!» 40 Ma l’altro lo rimproverava, dicendo: «Non hai nemmeno timor di Dio, tu che ti trovi nel medesimo supplizio? 41 Per noi è giusto, perché riceviamo la pena che ci meritiamo per le nostre azioni, ma questi non ha fatto nulla di male». 42 E diceva: «Gesù, ricòrdati di me quando entrerai nel tuo regno!» 43 Ed egli gli disse: «Io ti dico in verità, oggi tu sarai con me in paradiso».

Luke is the only Gospel writer that includes this statement of Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Even at the point of death, Jesus is the forgiving Messiah. It is here that the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 53:12 is clearly revealed, “because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
While offering His forgiveness, the people sneered, the soldiers mocked and one of the criminals hanging with Jesus rebuffed the compassion of Jesus with insults. It is the other criminal that defends Jesus. In the law, there was a provision for sins committed in ignorance; but this was by no means an ignorant action. It will be about 40 years later that the judgment of God will visit them. Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness gave those offenders time to repent of their sin. Peter’s defense says it clearly in Acts 3:17, “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”
Both thieves could hear and possibly read the inscription above Jesus’ head that read: ‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’ but only one of the criminals had the courage to speak out as the lone voice pleading for the mercy of the Lord in a sea of defiance. His last words to Jesus are a cry for what he knew was the truth “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He did not deserve it or could he ever earn forgiveness but he trusted in a dying King. Jesus granted him the same forgiveness and paradise that He has given to us. What a testimony of how far His forgiveness will reach to find a lost soul!

Pray with me: Lord, I stand amazed at how far reaching Your forgiveness extends even when I don’t deserve another chance. Help me to see that You don’t give up extending Your forgiveness to those we think are beyond hope.

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