Title:  Three Short and Powerful Prayers

Summary:  Jesus teaches us that we should pray for others even when they
abuse us.  Even though it may seem as though God has forgotten us in our
persecution, he does not.  We need to place ourselves in his hands and he will
give us life.

Function:  To move the hearers to make a habit of praying for their enemies
Text:  Matt 27:46; Luke 23:34, 46

Scripture Reading:  Matt 5:43-48

1.  Coincidence that this sermon falls on the Sunday Christ rose from grave
2.  Will look at three very short but powerful prayers Jesus prayed on the cross
3.  Begin by examing what happened up to this point

I.  Crucifixion
	A.  Background
		1.  3 Supreme penalties under Roman Law
			a.  The Crux (Cross)
			b.  The Crematio (Burning)
			c.  Either beheading or thrown to a beast
		2.  Crimes for the cross
			a.  Desertion to the enemy
			b.  Betraying secrets
			c.  Incitement to rebellion
			d.  Murder
			e.  Prophecy about welfare of rulers
			f.  Magic
			g.  Serious falsification of wills
	B.  Crux the most despised form of execution
		1.  Seen as very shameful
			a.  People often referred to it as the “slaves punishment”
				- Not for elite or wealthy
				- Usually for lower class and slaves
				- It the most painful and most humiliating
			b.  Executioner’s song:  “Lictor, go bind his hands and veil 
			      his hand, hang him on the tree of shame”
		2.  Cicero - “The very word cross should be far removed from the
		      person, thoughts, eyes and ears of the Roman citizen.  The
		       very mention of them is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a 
		        free man.”
		3.  Crux became a curse word (Most ugly thing to say to person)
		4.  Crucifixion not seen as oppression by Romans & Greeks, but
		      an necessary tool to perserve law and order
	C.  Is it any wonder unbelievers called it madness/folly 1 Cor 1:23
		1.  Inconceivable a God would die, especially a slave’s death
		2.  Caricature - Alexamenos worships God - Donkey head on cross
		3.  Man carrying cross, tongue dragging behind 
		4.  But Paul says to us it is the power of God - 1 Cor 1:24
	D.  This is how Jesus suffered
		1.  Before the cross, various torture, usually flogging
			a.  Movie the passion, actor missed and whip dug into actor
				took his breath away
		2.  Cross could be a pole, X, T, or traditional
			a.  Sometimes impale them, but die too fast
			b.  Usually nailed them to it
		3.  Purpose - Cause most amount of pain and humiliation
			a.  Carry own cross to execution site
			b.  Naked, flies, birds pick while still alive
			c.  Put at major place, like a cross roads
			d.  Final humiliation - Body left to rot.  Jesus spared this
		4.  No precise standard way of crucifixion
			a.  Executioner had free reign
			b.  Possibilities were endless on how to inflict pain
	E.  Why Jesus suffered? 
		1.  Criminal, revelotionary, murderer, No
		2.  No crime - So they had to produce false witnesses
		3.  So they crucified and innocent man

II.  Jesus prayed a prayer of forgiveness (Lk 23:34)
	A.  Look at what happening while this going one (Lk 23:33-39)
		1.  Stripped off clothes, stripped of honor and dignity
		2.  Between two bandits - executed as a common criminal
		3.  People insulting him
		4.  Hung there with ripped skin (our methods today are gracious)
	B.  I am amazed at sheer will power to pray this prayer
		1.  When I hurt, I very self absorbed, most of us are
		2.  ILL:  I in hospital.  Didn’t want visitors, was rude
		3.  Yet Jesus still thinking of others
			a.  Made sure mother taken care of
			b.  Comforted one of the bandits beside him
			c.  Now prays for fogiveness of his abusers
	C.  ILL:  HSBS - Girl kidnapped, caught the guy
		1.  Students wanted to pray for justice
		2.  Bible prof: - Pray that they would be saved - silence in room
			- We had lost perspective for a few moments
		3.  Yet Jesus did not - He didn’t pray for justice, but mercy
	D.  Jesus said love enemies and pray for them
		1.  Jesus provides the supreme example of this here
		2.  Imagine the will power it took
		3.  Oh to have a fraction of that will power
			a.  Do you love your enemies?
			b.  Do you pray for your abusers (Pray for punish not count)

III.  Jesus prayed a prayer of anguish (Mt 27:46)
	A.  This a disturbing cry - Authors perserved original language
	B.  Many have tried to analyze this
		1.  Some say God turned his back on God due to sin
		2.  Some say Jesus so human, faith faltered here
		3.  Should take it at face value
			a.  God not turn his back on Jesus
				- He is faithful
				- God not turn back on God
			b.  This is not a faltering in faith
				- Jesus was in control the entire time
				- This is a prayer of anguish and lament
				- Takes more faith to bring laments to God
				- Faith that God is listening, and will answer or act
	C.  Jesus cries out in anguish, pain and humiliation
		1.  All his friends left him (except John) - Feeling of being alone
		2.  Psalm 22 provides words for his prayer
			a.  Details of the Psalm match (v.1, 4-8, 13-18, 19-24)
			b.  Psalm ends on a note of faith
			c.  I don’t believe Jesus quoted entire Psalm
				- Men on crosses don’t recite poetry
			d.  May have had the whole Psalm in mind
		3.  But we really can’t fully understand or appreciate his suffering
			a.  Any explanation or analogy would fall short
			b.  Not just the phsycial pain and humiliation...
				- Ones abusing him are ones he loves
				- We probably not feel love for abusers
			c.  Revelation shows something going on behind scenes
				- There is a spiritual dimension
		4.  So we can’t fully understand - Isn’t that the point?
			a.  Jesus suffered so we wouldn’t have to
			b.  So don’t understand because Jesus took it on himself
	D.  This prayer of anguish would be even more unsettling if he died now
		1.  But these were not the final words on his lips
		2.  He did not utter words that sound like defeat

IV.  Jesus prayed a prayer of faith (Lk 23:46)
	A.  This shows that Jesus not lose his faith, nor did God abandon him
		a.  In John he says - “Tetelesthai” - It is finished
		b.  Matthew says he died with a shout
		c.  He died not in defeat, but with triumphant shout
		d.  This prayer is also triumphant - He not condemned before God
	B.  Quotation from Psalm 31  (Ps 31:1-5)
		1.  This is a Psalm of faith
		2.  God is our rock and fortress and will deliver
		3.  v.5 - Ultimate cry of faith - Jesus showed it in life and death
		4.  At the most difficult time - Prays the prayer of faith
	C.  What does it mean to say - Into your hands I commit my spirit?
		1.  v.1 - Never to be ashamed of God
			a.  That means never to be ashamed of the cross
			b.  Never to be ashamed of being the odd person out
			c.  People will say you narrow minded, out of step
		2.  v.4 - Rely on God for strength
			a.  Cross, selfless, servanthood, etc. all seem weak
			b.  But power is perfected in weakness
				- Jesus used cross to defeat sin and death
			c.  I don’t rely on human strength, wisdom, education,
			     reputation, physical strength, etc.
			d.  Glory in weakness so power of God show in me
		3.  Commit self to God of truth (t,m,a) who ransomed you
			a.  t,m,a - Truth, or faithfulness
			b.  God is faithful and will not abandon you
	D.  (Rev. 2:10) - Be faithful unto death (in the face of death)
		1.  Death may not be our ultimate challenge
		2.  So for us, it may be
			a.  In the face of ridicule
			b.  In the face of prosperity
			c.  In the face of family who disown you for faith
			d.  In face of unbelieving spouse who discourage you
		3.  Why - Jesus will give the crown of life
			a.  Jesus himself rose from the grave
			b.  We will rise as well - to either eternal life, or damnation

1.  (1 Cor 15:20-28) - Jesus gave so much more than we might understand
2.  (1 Cor 15:50-57) - Benefits
3.  (1 Cor 15:58 ) - Didn’t conclude with benefits package, but job description
	a.  His is a call for faith and faithfulness  (Invitation)
	b.  Faith will move to you pray as Jesus did
		- Commit Spirit to God  
		- Take hurts to God
		- Pray for enemies (they will not get the better of you)
4.  Always abound in the word of the Lord
	a.  That includes loving enemies and praying for them
		- Rom 12:19-21 - Not take revenge, feed enemy if hungry
		- Didn’t Jesus do good for his enemies? - Cross
	b.  Who is your enemy?  Co-worker, Bully, Muslims?
	c.  Are you praying for them?

Questions for Small Group Discussion