For he bore the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Our Ignorance: “For they know not what they do”
Who crucified Jesus? Was it the Romans or was it the Jewish? In light oF the movie, “The Passion of Christ”, there has been lot of discussion in the media about this. In order to make his point, the producer, Mel Gibson, answered the critics by saying, that it was his hand that drove the nails, in the movie. Some one put it very well, every time you sin with your hand, you are driving a nail in Jesus hands and every time you sin with your legs you are driving a nail through his legs, every time you think evil thoughts you are piercing crown of thorns upon his head.
Acts 2:23 Apostle Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, ..you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
Then, why is Jesus saying, “they know not what they do”. In Acts 3:17, it is written, “Now brothers I know you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders”.
All these people were not ignorant of the facts of their guilt, but they were ignorant of the enormity of their crime. They never realized that they were crucifying the Son of God.
Apostle Paul also writes in I Cor 2:8, None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Many times we justify ourselves as saying that we did not know the rules. I can remember one instance during my student days in NYC, where one of my room-mates was stopped for speeding, instead of waiting inside the car, he got out of car and stood outside smoking waiting for the cop. He was in big trouble. The law clearly states that you need to stay in the car and wait for the cop, but because of my friend being new to the country was ignorant of the law, violated it and got penalized for it. His ignorance did not make him innocent.
We all know deep in our hearts that we are offending God when we sin, but we don’t realize the gravity, the seriousness of our sin. In the Old Testament God prescribed special offerings for the unintentional sins. As we study the scripture diligently and we grow spiritually, we are convicted our many sins, which we previously thought were “OK”. But sin whether you committed knowingly or unknowingly is an offense to God and the penalty needs to be paid and that’s the penalty Jesus is paying on our behalf.
As we look at this gruesome event in history, let’s once again try to understand the gravity of our sin, how detestable it is to God. The good news of the gospel is that, while God is Just and Holy and cannot tolerate sin, He also loves us so much that He is willing to pay the penalty himself. Our God is the judge who convicts us and declares us guilty, but He is also Our God who takes the penalty upon Himself, that we might be saved.
The Cross shows us God’s Absolute Justice and His Absolute Love for us. And unless we realize the seriousness of sin, we will never understand the love of God and the forgiveness he has to offer us.
One of important festivals of the Jews which the LORD God had commanded them to observe was the Day of Atonement. On this day, the High Priest sacrificed the animals for atonement of his own sins and the sins of the people of Israel and interceded for them.
The study of these festivals recorded in the Old Testament and how they point to the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ is quite fascinating.
A few side notes, regarding the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):
The Day of Atonement happened only once a year, to teach us that only once should Jesus Christ die; As it is written in Hebrews 10:12 “when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”.
On this day, the High Priest did most of the rituals by himself, no assistance from other priests. In the same way, Jesus our High Priest, fulfilled all that needed to be done, for our Atonement. God accepts us based on the atonement of Christ and nothing else.
According to Hebrews, Lord Jesus is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Lord Jesus is our perfect model when we think about intercession, He interceded for you in the Upper Room(John 17), He intercedes for us here on the cross, He is interceding for us even now, as it is written in I John 2:1-3
But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good–not only ours, but the whole world’s. I John 2:1-3
We need to be intercessors for the people God has brought in our lives. We need to be people who stand in the gap. “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezek 22:30).
We need to be like Abraham who interceded for Lot, like Moses who interceded for the children of Israel during the Exodus, we can learn lot of things from these the ministry of intercession.
In Eph 6 Paul after he explains the armor of God, commands us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Let’s focus on these two truths regarding intercession:
1. Passionately: We need to be passionate for our neighbors. We need to love them passionately and be concerned for them, and intercede for them. When man had done his worst, Jesus prayed, not for justice but for mercy.
2. Persistently: The Greek text of the verse we are studying implies that Jesus said this repeatedly, “Father Forgive them…”. He interceded for us persistently. Persistance of the parable of poor widow granted her favor with the wicked judge(Luke 18). How much more when we persist with a loving and just God.
In conclusion, God has called us as His children to Priesthood. In I Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Let us remind ourselves that our unbelieving friends are also ignorant of the seriousness of their offense against God and let us lovingly intercede for them as a compassionate priest, so that they may also come to accept the gift of forgiveness and salvation.