Jesus was led to a place called Calvary, with two others who were condemned to be crucified (Luke 23:32-33). The word Calvary actually comes to us from the Vulgate translation of the Greek, kranion (G2898), at Luke 23:33. The verse should read “the Scull” or “the Head” as Young’s Literal Version and our modern translations do. Calvary is the English translation of the Latin calvariae, which means head or skull.
According to Mark 15:25, Jesus was crucified about the third hour of the day, or around 9 AM according to our reckoning of time. Ancient Jews counted the daylight hours 1 – 12 (John 11:9) beginning at about 6 AM, according to our reckoning. What is significant about the hour in which Jesus was crucified is that it was the first hour of prayer in the day (Psalm 55:17; Acts 2:15; 3:1: 10:9). So, at the hour of prayer, Jesus prayed to his Father: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It has been suggested by some that Jesus prayed for everyone except the Jewish authorities, because it is claimed that they knew what they were doing. Nevertheless, such an opinion isn’t scriptural, because both Peter and Paul claimed no one who had anything to do with Jesus’ crucifixion, knew the gravity of their evil deed (Acts 3:17; 1Corinthians 2:8).
The real question we need to ask is, did God hear Jesus’ prayer, and, if he did, how did he answer it. We are told by Jesus, himself, that God always answers his prayers (John 11:42). Therefore, everyone for whom Jesus prayed had to be forgiven. Nevertheless, some sins will still reap punishment (cf. Numbers 14:20-23, 29-30), because, even though God heard Moses prayer for Israel and God forgave them, the offenders were still punished, in that they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moreover, just as David’s sin of murder was forgiven even as he asked, his sin still required disciplinary action. David’s punishment came by way of division and a sword in his family. Therefore, although all sin can be forgiven in that our lives are saved, some sins still carry with them some kind of retribution meant for discipline, so others would be forewarned and not commit the same sins presumptuously.
I believe it is significant that Stephen also prayed this same prayer as the Jewish authorities laid hands upon him to stone him. It is interesting that this prayer accompanied the shedding of blood on both occasions, first that of the Lord and then that of his disciple. It seems that the nation was offered a season of grace, whereby, if they repented and reached out to Jesus, the destruction of the nation would not have occurred. Nevertheless, the Jewish leadership laid hands upon Stephen and for the first time the blood of someone who followed Jesus was shed (cf. Revelation 12:14). For a 3 ½ year period after the crucifixion the believing community were kept safe from bodily harm. However, when Stephen was murdered by the Jewish authorities, just as they had done with Jesus, the abomination that brought desolation to the nation was set up (cf. Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14), and judgment would be required. A full end would not be made, so Jesus’ prayer was answered, but the destruction (desolation) of the nation became inevitable upon the murder of Stephen.