Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

LUKE 23:34

When we would have frozen with fear, Harold Lowe chose to serve. April 15, 1912. Five hundred feet from the sinking Titanic, Lowe reached a position of safety. But he didn’t stay there. Though it was a waking nightmare, though dead bodies filled the sea, he returned to the ship. Aloneamong the officers, Lowe went back to rescue survivors. He remained dedicatedto his superiors and to those in his care.

Let’s revisit an earlier evening with far steeper stakes.What does our Savior reveal with his first words from the cross? An unparalleled servant’s heart. Christ remains devoted to his almighty God and to the sinners in his care.

First, Jesus demonstrates service to his Father. At his conception and his birth at Bethlehem, Christ embraced an assignment he alone could complete. He chose submission. His compliance would save the Creator’s other children. Now, the time for the last and most difficult part of this commitment had arrived. What do we hear in Calvary’s first words from the heart of God? The holy Son’s absolute obedience to his Father’s will.

Even facing his darkest hours, Christ remains certain. Eventhough his Father would forsake him, Jesus endures abandonment-suffers death-in our place. He earns our return to the Father’s family.

Second, Jesus demonstrates service to all sinners. He is witnessing history’s ugliest image of humanity as these vile men nail him to across. As he prays about it to the omnipotent Creator, what does he request? Deliverance? Vengeance? No. Beaten and bloody, he disregards his own anguish.Instead, in his audience with his Father, he pleads that his crucifiers receivepardon. In the face of untold and unjust agony, his thoughts center on a curefor our affliction. Sin.

We stand among those murderers. Bloodied hands. Filthy hearts. Each day, we are complicit in these crimes. What does Jesus request?That God punish us? That God ignore sins that warrant punishment? No. Christ instead prays for forgiveness, a forgiveness that preserves both justice and righteousness. Service at an infinite cost. Only the Son of God’s holy life andinnocent death could cancel our debt.

Harold Lowe’s empty lifeboat preserved four dying people. On our path toward Easter, may God keep us fixed on the empty tomb of our Savior, which offers miraculous rescue to unnumbered helpless sinners. His service alone wins our everlasting safety in heaven.


Dear Lord, thank you for making our undeserved forgiveness the purpose of your earthly life. Provide opportunities for us, in gratitude,to echo your selfless love. Amen.