In His first few hours on earth Jesus rested in a manger. In His last few He agonized on a cross. From humble birth to humiliating death. His birth was private and His arrival met with awe and wonder by a chosen few. The angels and the shepherds praised God for the Savior, Christ the Lord. His death by crucifixion was public and His execution at Calvary met with ridicule and scorn by many people whom Jesus came to save. “He came to His own {people} and those who were His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11

How did Jesus respond? He SPOKE.

First, to God the Father: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34a
Jesus asked forgiveness for the Roman soldiers who where carrying out His death sentence. Hours later they recognized Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47).

Next, Jesus spoke to a criminal who was being crucified next to him. Jesus assured him: “. . . Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 While suffering excruciating pain, this man asked Jesus to remember him. He admitted his guilt and recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and the one who could grant him entrance into the kingdom of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Neither the soldiers or the thief asked for forgiveness but Jesus offered it, a gift none of them deserved. For the soldiers it meant forgiveness for their actions (sins) against God. For the thief it meant a new sentence after his death; his soul would be with Jesus.

These two events aid in our understanding of reconciliation with God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

First, we all need forgiveness for our sins, even if we are not aware of our need. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Second, understand that forgiveness is a gift. “Being justified freely {as a gift} by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God displayed publicly as a propitiatory sacrifice in His blood through faith.” Romans 3: 24-25a

Third, believe in Jesus – He is the Son of God. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10

Fourth, admit your sins against God (committed by your inherent sin nature and also by sinful thoughts and actions) and ask God for forgiveness. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave, Part II