At that time, people began to call on the name of the Lord. – Genesis 4:26
On the day Jesus died, we have at least three prayers of Jesus recorded. They were not only deeply fervent and earnest, but powerful and revelatory of Jesus’ identity and true character. He prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” This is a remarkable prayer for it reveals the character of Jesus: loving, merciful, gracious, and forgiving. It also reveals something about us poor sinners. We do not know what we are doing.
Imagine the thoughts of the Romans soldiers, the Jewish leaders, and Pilate. Of course we know what we’re doing! We’ve done this hundreds of times. We know how to take care of the likes of you, Jesus of Nazareth! Oh that is so sad. They had no clue. Too often we fall into that same trap. We think we know what we’re doing, but we have no clue of how we offend God, hurt our neighbor and even harm ourselves. Jesus prayed that prayer not only for the soldiers and Jewish leaders, he prayed it for you and for me. We all need his forgiveness, and Jesus prayed to the Father for us to have it.
As he breathed his last Jesus prayed, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. With those words Jesus died, having finished his work on our behalf. He had redeemed us. He had atoned for our sins. He had suffered in our place. His time had come to return to the Father. And he committed himself once again to his Father’s loving care.
That last prayer is made more profound by the 2nd of Jesus’ prayers: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The final prayer is made more profound by means of this most profound prayer of all. For Jesus is hanging on the cross, betrayed and abandoned by man, and forsaken by God. He is all alone. Totally by himself. Without anyone at his side. Solo. Solitary. Unattended. His Father had forsaken him. Yet note this: He calls out, “My God, my God…” He has not abandoned God. He has not lost faith. He still looks to his heavenly Father in the face of the hell he was enduring on the cross.
And because he did that, he has redeemed us of little faith. He has provided a way of faith that is stronger and more certain than our feeble trust. He has kept faith for us, for we all too easily and quickly lose our faith.
Jesus prayed these prayers for you and me. And God has heard him. We are saved. Now our prayers can be prayers of praise and God. For the very bad day of life for Jesus is truly a good day for us sinners. Thanks be to God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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