First Assembly of God Orange Park
As Jesus was dying on the cross, He spoke seven times. Someone has called them His "famous last words." They were not actually His last words, but they were the last words He spoke before His death and resurrection.
The first thing He said was, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." It was a prayer for those who were responsible for crucifying Him.
How totally like Jesus these words were. They were a prayer for others. In His time of greatest anguish, His first thoughts were for others.
He asked for forgiveness for the guilty. When Jesus told Pilate that he could have no power over him unless it had been granted by His Father, he said that those who delivered him to Pilate had the greater responsibility. So those who arrested Him had a great guilt.
But Jesus chose the way of love. Not only was He asking for their forgiveness by the Father, He was forgiving them.
His whole life was about forgiving others and now at His death, He stays true to His own teaching.
Christ is the purest exemplification of His own teaching. In this, He is again a perfect example for us. He had said, "I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt. 5:44) What an example of love and forgiveness He is for us. In the most difficult time of His sojourn on earth, He practices forgiveness.
How important it is that these were the first of His last words.
If Jesus could forgive the traitors and murderers who had put Him there, can we accept the grace He provides us and forgive anyone who has wronged us. Surely no one has committed and offense against you that is comparable to the sins that Jesus forgave.
When Stephen, the first martyr for Jesus, died as he was stoned by enemies of His Savior, he prayed, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60) Stephen followed Jesus in forgiving. Let us by God’s grace do the same.