MPGC22- CHRIST'S LAST WORDS: Seven Statements From the Cross
I remember clearly one of the last full sentences my father spoke before he died. I have since gone over every word in my mind. I wrote them down. They were important. The last words of a loved one are remembered.
As Jesus hung on the cross in his final hours he spoke a few audible sentences. They were important and recorded for our benefit today. We look now at.....
Christ's Last Words - Seven Statements From the Cross
Statement #1 - "Father Forgive Them"
Day 1- When Jesus was at the height of his agony and another might have been muttering a curse, Jesus spoke a prayer. It was not for himself, not for his friends but for his enemies!
In this prayer addressed to His Father, the word forgive meant in the Greek, "to leave them alone, or absolve from payment.
Day 2- Father, forgive them --who are the "them" in this prayer? In his immediate setting it referred to the criminals on his left and right. It took in the Jewish leadership and mob that clamored for his death. It included the soldiers that treated him so harshly. But, it also included you and I today. Every sin against God is a decision to crucify the Son of God afresh. He looked down through the ages to you and I knowing that we would sin.
(Notice the "all" in this verse.)
Day 3- With this prayer Jesus fulfills a prophecy.
Isaiah 53:12 (notice especially the last phrase)
As soon as the blood of his sacrifice began to flow on the cross His intercession for us began in earnest. He now modeled the advice he had given his disciples in the sermon on the mount.
Day 4- Throughout his life, Jesus prayed for us. In his dying he continued to pray for us and even now what is He doing for us?
At his moment of death Jesus was thinking of US - not himself. How could he humanly do this? Remember at Gethsemane he had settled things in his soul. He had faced great agony in prayer and settled things. He left Gethsemane having prayed, "Thy will be done." He could now focus on others.
Day 5- Why did Jesus ask the Father to forgive them when in the past he simply forgave sinners himself? He had the authority to forgive sin. See for example:
At this moment on the cross He was taking our place as representative of sinful humanity. He had surrendered every divine power and was now dying in our place.
Therefore he asks that the Father would forgive them.
Day 6- "Father forgive them" is followed by "for they do not know what they are doing." What does this mean? It is a fact that ....
A. The Jewish leaders knew they had falsely accused Him.
B. Pilate knew that Jesus was an innocent man.
C. Anyone even slightly aware knew that a great injustice was being done.
Day 7- The answer is the fact that these were blind people (Jews) led by blind rulers.
Why were they all so completely blind to the spiritual light of truth found in Jesus Christ?
Day 8- It was not as though these Jews had no evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. They had heard Jesus teach as one having authority -- a different kind of authority that they had heard from the Jewish teachers of the law.
Matthew 7: 28-29
They had witnessed his mighty works and yet refused to recognize who he was.
John 10: 32-33
Some of this Jewish crowd may even have been one of the multitude that Jesus miraculously fed with the loaves and fishes.
Day 9- No, ignorance couldn't excuse their crime of murder. With minds utterly blind to the true light they could not comprehend how enormous their crime was. If they had comprehended it what would have happened?
1 Corinthians 2:8
Day 10- The whole point of Christ's coming was forgiveness and salvation for all men and women. It was what he was dying for.
Forgiveness is the one word that permeates this atmosphere of violence, hate and cruelty. It reveals the heart and attitude of Christ towards those who nailed him to the cross including you and I.
But -- this prayer was a plea for those who would repent and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. It was NOT immediate, unconditional forgiveness of everyone participating in Christ's death that stubbornly held to their unbelief, sin and rebellion. Who is this forgiveness promised to?
Day 11- God is eager to forgive anyone who will turn back to Him. Take the time to read this remarkable chapter in Ezekiel. Read it right through to the end and you will know the Father's heart towards you.
Day 12- In the past (before God sent his son) there was great ignorance in men and God overlooked this. But NOW (having sent his son to reconcile us to Himself) what does God call all men and women everywhere to do?
Day 13- Every pardoned sinner who ever lives is an answer to Christ's prayer.... "Father forgive them." The forgiveness extended at the cross to those who put Him to death is the same extended today to all sinners -- that's all of us! Notice in this verse how freely it is offered.
Day 14- Upon ALL of us rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God and to ALL of us forgiveness is freely offered so that we may share again in eternal life with God. Although this is a familiar verse put the emphasis on "whoever believes in Him" as you read the verse.
Statement #2 --"Today you will be with me in paradise."
Day 15- If the first statement from Jesus was a prayer, the second one gave an answer to prayer. Two men (both thieves) heard the Lord's prayer to forgive them. Both of them saw his incredible love and example. Both of them were dying and both needed forgiveness.
The unrepentant thief died as he had lived -- hardened and indifferent. The other thief repented, believed and joined Jesus in paradise. His spiritual eyes were opened and instead of a naked, crucified criminal, he saw a king, exalted on his throne, regal in his dying and clothed in the royal robes of suffering love.
What joy must have filled Jesus' heart to hear this man say....
Day 16- In Christ's second statement notice the word "today". It was a promise given on a day of apparent defeat and darkness.
Statement #3 -- "Woman behold your son."
Day 17- This third statement was a response to what Jesus saw. Even through swollen eyes caked with blood, He looked down and saw his mother and thought about her needs and her future on earth.
John 19: 26-27
John understood the trust that Jesus was placing on him. He took Mary to his home to love and care for her until her death. John in turn received a great blessing because she reminded him constantly of his beloved Master.
Statement #4 -- "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Day 18- Jesus was crucified around 9AM and finally died around 3PM. But at noon, the brightest hour of the day, an unnatural phenomenon happened.
This darkness had no natural cause. It was as deep as midnight without moon or stars.
Day 19- Christ was now dying and all was oppressive and dark. In his spirit He saw the hold of sin upon the human heart and felt sad knowing how few would be willing to break from its hold on them. Without intervention from God, humanity must perish. During these last hours the iniquity of us all was being laid upon Jesus.
Isaiah 53: 4-6
Day 20- Until this moment in life Jesus had gone through all the experiences of life except for one thing. He had never known the consequences of sin (separation from His Father). But now he felt it keenly and besides the oppression of darkness, a deep sense of aloneness settled over Him so that he cried out....
Mark 15: 34
He was literally bearing all the sins of the world (past, present and future). These words were spoken at the moment when....
2 Corinthians 5:21A
Jesus is crying out from the depths of his own desolation. He is descending to the depths of human sin and suffering. Until now He had never encountered in Himself the experience and consequence of human sin.
Day 21- The consequences of bearing our sins identified Him totally with humanity. But it alienated him from God. Separation from His loving Father was absolute and utter desolation for Jesus.
But had His Father really left Him? According to this verse where does it say God was located during this time? And what was He doing?
2 Corinthians 5: 19A
The New Living Translation puts it very simply.... "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself."
(2 Corinthians 5:19A - NLT)
Day 22- In the deep darkness of soul God's presence was hidden from Jesus -- the same as happens to us when we sin. The emotions are powerful yet often untrue. Our loving Father is always pursuing us and wanting us back with Himself. Sin DOES separate us from Him but He is only a call away.
God is not forsaking Jesus but the sin He was carrying.
Day 23- Despite the separation and aloneness that Jesus felt, Luke records a very important prayer that He made. Notice WHO Jesus is addressing.
Day 24- He couldn't see His Father. He couldn't feel His Father's presence. Yet, He prayers to Him all the same. This is the prayer of faith. When we can neither see nor feel God in our circumstances we can look out into the darkness and call upon our God who is closer than we know. Claim these tender promises as your own. No doubt Jesus did.
Psalm 91:15 / Isaiah 65:24
Day 25- The deep darkness that covered the land may have had a double meaning -- one for man and the other for Jesus. What is the meaning that John makes of this darkness for man?
Day 26- Their darkened minds betrayed themselves when they heard Jesus' words from the cross and misinterpreted them. It was with contempt that they said....
Mark 15: 35-36
Even now at the moment of his death they had no reverence or pity.
The deep darkness that fell from the sixth to the ninth hours may have been a mercy to Jesus. He may not have seen or heard his Father but God was nonetheless there caring for his Son. The darkness became like the mantle of God covering his son during the last hours of his life. He had been gazed upon by an unmerciful crowd for hours and now he was given some privacy by His Father.
No, God had not abandoned His Son. He was there showing kindness and mercy when all was at its worst but for Jesus there was no sense of His Father's presence. The sins he now carried separated them completely.
Day 27- It is because Jesus has identified completely with humanity (in its sin, shame, darkness and abandonment) that He can understand our situation today. What three things do these verses tell us that Jesus can now do for you and I because He has spanned the gulf of desolation?
The Christian will not be left to cope alone with death. He won't leave this world in desolation of spirit or deprived of heavenly consolation.
Statement #5 - "I thirst"
Day 28- The Lord's fifth statement were his first words of any personal nature. He said these words knowing that all was now completed.
No doubt his physical thirst came because of a tremendous loss of blood. Could it be that what He thirsted for was His Father?
Day 29- Prior to saying this, Jesus had been offered sour wine mixed with gall (a painkiller). What did He do once He had tasted it?
No, He would take on the sins of the world, with all its pain, having full faculties.
Day 30- At the Lord's words "I thirst" one of the soldiers took pity on him.
Even in this simple gesture a prophecy was being fulfilled.
Day 31- It is because Jesus thirsted that we don't have to. We no longer have to go about the world thirsting after the empty things that the world offers. We can satisfy our thirst in a relationship with Jesus.
These verses in John are Christ's own words that tell us how to quench our souls' thirst.
John 4: 13-14
Then, he gives us the results of being filled and satisfied.
John 7: 37-38
For all who believe, Christ's own spirit (called the Holy Spirit) would dwell in the inner most part of a believer. The Holy Spirit within us would gush forth and overflow to the world.
Statement #6 - "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit"
Day 32- These words which we have made mention of a little earlier show that Jesus was in total control of the situation. These words record a deliberate act of dismissing his spirit. Notice he said these words "with a loud voice" and not as a final dying gasp.
John says that Jesus "bowed his head" and "gave up his spirit" -- i.e. willingly.
Matthew combines these two thoughts.
Day 33- With these words Jesus is actually quoting scripture.
In fact four of the last phrases are spoken right from the Old Testament.
Day 34- In this final trial Jesus was not "hoping for the best and keeping a stiff upper lip". No, He was filling His mind with the prophecies and promises of God. We too must live by scripture, committing our lives into God's hands day by day and yielding our spirit in trust to Him. In submission Jesus commits Himself to God and by faith He is the victor.
John 10: 17-18
Day 35- These final words tell us that there is life beyond the grave. He prays to His Father who is now waiting to receive him back joyously into Heaven. He did not speak as though he would breathe out and die, nor did he infer that He would be passing into nothingness.
Jesus actually modeled how believers should die. Not too many years later Stephen would follow the Lord's example in his attitude to men and to God.
Acts 7: 59-60
We'll look at Christ's seventh statement -- "it is finished" -- a little later in our studies.
Next Study: MPGC#23