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. They were there because of their devotion to Christ, but the soldiers were there out of duty. They divided his garments at the foot of the cross, considering him to be as good as dead, with no further need of clothing.

The fact that they turned so soon to divide his garments showed that they had little thought for the man on the cross. It was all in a day’s work for them. They joined with others who mocked the Saviour, approaching him and taunting him, offering him vinegar to drink.

They were, albeit unwittingly, guilty of the greatest possible sin in crucifying Christ. Those who gave the order for the execution were ignorant of who He was, (1Cor.2.8). After the day of Pentecost, Peter said, ‘And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers’, (Acts 3.17).

Was the prayer of the Lord Jesus for the soldiers answered? Matthew records, ‘Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake . . .they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God’, (27.54). ‘Whosever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God’, (1John 5.1).


The means of forgiveness: On the night prior to his crucifixion, the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the upper room. After He had broken the bread, He took the cup, saying, ‘For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’, Matt. 26.28. Paul emphasized that the forgiveness of sins is a great blessing, which the believer enjoys presently, (Eph. 1.7).

The meaning of forgiveness:One word for forgiveness in the original language is nasa, meaning, ‘to lift up, or away’. How glad we should be that the burden of our sins has been lifted up, and that they are taken away forever. ‘As far as the east is from the west’, (Ps.103.12);‘ cast into the depths of the sea’, (Micah 7.19). The meaning is ‘the removing of sin from the sinner’. Here is the secret of happiness; not a secret concealed, but clearly revealed. ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’, (Ps. 32:1).

A few of the multitude of references in scripture to God’s forgiveness cover: • The word of a patriarch (spoken by the Lord, recorded by Moses) ‘Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’, (Exod.34.7). The word of a psalmist ‘But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared’, (Ps.130.4). • The word of a prophet ‘Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness’, (Neh.9.17). • The word of a preacher The Apostle Paul, ‘through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins’, Acts 13.38.

Great God of wonders, all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of Thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine.
Who is a pardoning God like thee,
Or who has grace so rich and free?

[SAMUEL DAVIES, 1723-1761]


Family forgiveness: The first mention of forgiveness in scripture is in Genesis chapter 50 verses 17 to 21. Jacob is about to die; he sent a messenger to his son, Joseph, saying,‘ Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee


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