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April 13 – Jesus’ first word on the cross

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”- Luke 23:34

Scripture reading: Luke 23:18-34

Looking forward to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to spend the next several days looking at the seven words of Christ on the cross. My prayer is that you will find and experience great joy in hearing and understanding them.

The spiritual leaders of Israel, in hatred and jealousy, brought charges of blasphemy and sedition against Jesus. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, cowardly washed his hands of this debacle. The Roman soldiers scornfully beat and mocked Jesus. Finally, they nailed Him to the cross between two criminals so that the sinless Son of God was, as Isaiah had prophesied, “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah53:12). Jesus didn’t rant and rave against His oppressors, He didn’t defend Himself against the injustice of it all. Instead, the first words from His lips are, “Father, forgive them.”

Forgiveness. This is why Jesus came into the world – to forgive sins. When Joseph wondered what to do about Mary when she was pregnant, the angel reassured him and said, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

This first word of Christ on the cross brings great joy to sinners like you and me. We cannot out-sin His grace. And just as He interceded for the sinners of His day, so He continues to lovingly intercede for you and me today. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Hallelujah! What a Saviour.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that God will forgive your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and give thanks that Jesus is your great High Priest Who continues to intercede for you.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado.

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