The last words someone says before they die are very significant. Because their life is brought before them they see things from a very sober perspective. They know that they are leaving their families and friends behind and entering the next world. All that is dear to them tugs at their hearts at this time. Such a prospect causes sober thinking. This is certainly true of the last things that Jesus Christ said as He died on the cross. The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified at 9:00 am in the morning and hung there until some time after 3:00 pm. He spoke 7 times whilst He hung there on the cross. Jesus made 7 profound statements that are still heard today, nearly 2,000 years later. This morning we will look at these 7 statements from the cross. This morning we will see what was most dear to Jesus Christ when He died. The Lord Jesus made 3 statements during the first 3 hours of the crucifixion. These 3 statements show His love for people, for individuals.
Luke 23:33-34 And when they were come to the place, which is called Cal vary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Crucifixion was one of the most agonising and shameful forms of punishment ever devised. Invented by the Phoenecians originally, and used by the Romans on slaves and criminals of the lowest types. Mark's gospel says that it was the 3rd hour or 9:00 am in the morning when they crucified Christ. Calvary or Golgotha was in public view so that all coming in or out of Jerusalem would see those crucified; And take warning in case they thought of rebelling.
After Jesus Christ was crucified by the soldiers He made His first cry from the cross. He prayed asking the Father to forgive those who were responsible for His death. The reason was that they did not know what they were doing. This was a different response than usual. People being crucified usually swore, and cursed those who crucified them, because of their great pain. But even though Christ was innocent, He prayed for their forgiveness. He asked that God might be merciful and not judge them. That they might be given further opportunity for salvation. Christ had taught forgiveness in Luke 6:27-28: But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. Now He was demonstrating this in a most powerful way.
He demonstrated God's great love for us who made ourselves His enemies. Remember that Pontius Pilate declared that Jesus Christ was innocent. He wanted to release Him to them. Christ did nothing to warrant this punishment. He was totally sinless. Pilate told the people that he wanted to have nothing to do with the blood of this righteous man and washed his hands of the matter. The people said His blood be on us and our children. Nevertheless they were all guilty of mistreating the Son of God. Pilate and the Roman soldiers acted wickedly along with the religious leaders and the people. This is recorded in Acts 4:25-28.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever your hand and your counsel determined before to be done.
God had predetermined that Jesus Christ should die for the sins of the world. Christ's prayer was that God would not hold them responsible for His death, but give them opportunity to repent and be saved. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to bring forgiveness and this would even be extended to those who crucified Him, if they would believe.
This highlights God's great love for us all. Pilate, Herod and the religious leaders acted wickedly, but in fact it was all of our sins that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross. He gave His life for us, so that we might be forgiven. Since He forgave those who crucified Him, He can forgive you. Christ can forgive even the vilest of sinners. Will you come to Him today?
Luke 23: 39-43 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing wrong. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto to you Today shall you be with me in paradise.
Jesus Christ died with common criminals. He had associated with sinners during His life and now in His death he was with them again. After all He came to save sinners. Shortly after He was nailed to the cross, people began to mock Jesus. The religious leaders taunted Him to come down from the cross if He was the Son of God. But Christ didn't answer them a word. Mark's gospel says that the 2 thieves began to mock Jesus also. They asked Him to save Himself and them if He really was the Christ. But as one of the thieves watched Jesus Christ silently suffering, he realised what it all meant. He understood Christ's ministry and responded in faith. He rebuked the other thief for his comments and presented a correct appraisal of the situation.
The thief understood that their punishment was just and deserved. They had broken the laws of men and of God. They totally deserved their punishment. However the Lord Jesus Christ was innocent and did not deserve to die. He was pure and holy and should not have been treated this way. How the thief came to understand this we are not told. But I believe that it was the witness of Christ's death that had touched His heart. He heard Him forgive the men who had terribly mistreated Him. He saw the love and care expressed to the ones most would have hated. He saw the self control and demeanour of the Son of God and came under conviction of his own deep need. He knew that Christ could save Him. In faith he reached out to the Saviour and asked for mercy. He believed that the sinless Messiah would one day return and rule over His kingdom.
This was tremendous faith from someone who was himself in great pain. He placed his faith in a Messiah that was dying. This thief obviously believed that Jesus Christ would conquer death and receive His kingdom. The thief ignored the ridicule of those round about. He found peace through faith in Jesus Christ. He started on the cross as a common criminal who deserved hell. But found God's Favour through faith in Jesus Christ and became a child of God. Romans 10:8-13 But what says it? The word is nigh to you even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The thief called out to Christ to save Him! How did Christ respond to his request of faith? He received Him gladly. Jesus promised that He would be with him that same day in paradise. God's mercy knows no bounds. Christ's prayer for forgiveness had been answered already to this man. Have you followed the thief's example? We are all sinners who need God's forgiveness. Have you called out to the Lord to save you? He is the only one who can! Have you placed your faith in Him? You too can find God's favour! Will you do it today?
John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he says unto his mother, Woman, behold your son! Then says he to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
As Jesus Christ suffered on the cross He noticed His mother standing by with the disciple He loved, John. Even though Jesus was suffering greatly on the cross, He was concerned for His mother. As the oldest in the family He had cared for His mother until now. But with His death and accension to heaven this would no longer be possible. So He committed her into John's care. He told her that John would care for her now. Then He charged John to look after His mother on His behalf. We are told that John took care of her from this point on. Jesus' brothers were not believers at this time and this is probably why they were not given the responsibility. Christ's love and concern for others did not weaken even during such agony. How wonderful is His love.
If Christ was this concerned for individuals when He was in great pain, think of how much He loves you and I. He forgave those who crucified Him. He received the thief. He provided for His mother. What love. Have you responded to His love? Will you become a part of God's family?
Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus made His first 3 cries between 9:00 am and 12:00 am. At 12:00 noon darkness covered the land as Jesus Christ bore the sins of the world. Darkness is a very suitable resemblance of sin. Jesus Christ the light of the world took upon Him the sins of the whole world. Satan and his fallen angels were no doubt present gloating over the whole scene. A Roman historian, named Phlegon, mentions an extraordinary solar eclipse and earthquake about the time of the crucifixion. During the 3 hours of darkness Jesus Christ did not say a word. He felt the agony and horror of sin which He had never experienced before. For now He was carrying the sins of the whole world upon Himself. 1 Peter 2:24 says: Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
It was at the end of the 3 hours of darkness that Jesus cried out to His Father. He asked why His Father had forsaken Him. These words come from Psalm 22, where David describes in vivid detail what Christ experienced on the cross. God had forsaken Christ because Jesus was bearing our sin in His body. God cannot look at sin and therefore broke off His fellowship with His Son at this time. Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: But Christ was also bearing the punishment for sin as well. The punishment for sin is death, physical and spiritual.
Jesus Christ experienced death, separation from God, for us. The Father had to forsake His Son as He received the punishment for sin. Hebrews 2:9-10 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. But, Jesus still trusted His Father, referring to Him as My God.
On the cross, Jesus Christ bore the punishment for the sins of the world. He bore your sin and my sin. He did this to save us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He did this because He loved us. Some people say that a God of love would never send anyone to hell. Well God is love. He has made it possible for people to be saved from hell. However if people reject the Saviour they send themselves to hell. John 3:16, 36: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. Have you accepted Christ as your Saviour? People who refuse Him will receive punishment for their sin. Won't you surrender your life to Jesus Christ today? Jesus was forsaken by His Father for us. If you reject Him you will suffer His wrath, not His forgiveness.
John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, says, I thirst.
Christ now knew that He had fulfilled His Father's will. He had completed what the Scriptures foretold of Him. His suffering was sufficient to pay for mankind's punishment. Now all that was required was His sacrificial death. After more than 6 hours of suffering on the cross Jesus was very thirsty. His mouth was dry and He asked for a drink so that He could make a loud cry that all would hear. This drink was also a fulfillment of Scripture. Psalm 69:21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
What Jesus Christ knew in verse 28 He now cried out in verse 30. After receiving a drink of vinegar, Christ made one more statement, It is finished. This could be translated it stands finished. The other 3 gospels tell us that Jesus cried out with a loud voice just before He died. This statement then like the one about being forsaken was spoken loudly for all to hear. What was finished? His suffering, Yes, but much more than that. The word tetalistai mean a number of things. It means the completion of a task. Jesus Christ had completed God's work of salvation for mankind, and it will always remain completed. This is why Jesus cried out in victory. Death did not mean defeat, but victory. Jesus Christ had conquered Satan, sin and death.
It was also the words used by the priests when an acceptable sacrifice was presented at the altar. Jesus Christ the Lamb of God had offered Himself as God's perfect sacrifice. There would be no need for further sacrifices and altars. Jesus Christ had fulfilled it all. The word was also used when an artist had completed a picture, or a writer had finished a story. The story of salvation had now been finished. Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at different times and in various ways spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, Jesus Christ had completed the message of God's salvation.
Probably the most meaningful description is that of the merchants: The debt is paid in full. On the cross, Jesus Christ had paid the price of our redemption. He paid the debt that we owed God through our sin. 1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Jesus Christ has completed our salvation, the debt is paid in full. A man once asked an evangelist what he needed to do to be saved? " It's too late " the evangelist replied and kept working. The young man became alarmed and said " do you mean its too late for me to be saved? Is there nothing I can do? " Too late! " said the evangelist, " its already been done. The only thing you can do is believe. "
Have you received God's free gift of salvation? Christ has finished the work. There is nothing left for you to do, but to receive the gift. You can be saved in a moment like the thief was. Jesus has finished our salvation. Will you receive Him today?
Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Having accomplished the plan of salvation, Jesus Christ committed His spirit to the Father's keeping. He totally trusted the Father. Christ's faith in God had not been shaken or weakened through His crucifixion. The word commend has the idea of dismissal, or of committing something to the charge of someone else. He knew He had accomplished the Father's will and that God would care for His Spirit. Having said this Jesus Christ gave up the Spirit. Jesus Christ gave up His life voluntarily. No one took it from Him. His death was unlike any other.
John 10:11,17-18 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. Death had no legal claim on Him since He was sinless. All men die because of sin. Jesus Christ was sinless and therefore free from the claim of death. He yielded up His life willingly as a sacrifice for our sin. After Jesus Christ died, man was able to come to God as never before since the fall. Matthew records the events that took place immediately after Christ's death. Matthew 27:51-54
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom to show that man could come directly into God's presence. We no longer need altars, priests and sacrifices. Jesus Christ has fulfilled all, He has completed our salvation. The saints that rose from death could do so because Christ had completed the plan of salvation. All we need to do is respond like the thief and place our faith in Him to save us. The Roman Centurion saw all that happened and declared, " Truly this was the Son of God. " Will you make this confession today?
Jesus death was no accident. It wasn't because of injustice. He was not a martyr. Rather Jesus died willingly in our place. He bore our sins on the cross by choice. Have you accepted Him as your saviour? He alone can save you from your sin! Because of Christ's death and resurrection you can receive forgiveness and eternal life. You can come directly into God's presence.
Today we have looked at Christ's 7 cries from the cross. They all speak of His love for us!
1. Forgive - Jesus prayed for forgiveness to those who mistreated Him. He longs to forgive.
2. Favour - Jesus showed favour to the thief who placed His faith in Him. Promised paradise.
3. Family - Jesus cared for His family even on the cross. He wants us to become His children.
4. Forsaken - Jesus was forsaken by the Father as He received our punishment for sin.
5. Fulfillment - Jesus fulfilled His Father's will completely.
6. Finished - Jesus finished our salvation on the cross. The debt has been paid in full.
7. Faith - Jesus trusted His father's plan completely. His faith never weakened. He laid down His life willingly. If you haven't received Christ as your saviour, will you do it today?
This morning you may have come to understand what Christ has done for you in a deeper way. It may be that you have never personally received Jesus Christ as your Saviour. If that is your situation, this morning I would to encourage you to do so. What do you need to believe?
1. That like the thief you are a sinner who cannot save himself.
2. That Jesus Christ God's sinless Son, died for your sin on the cross.
3. That He rose again on the third day to give you new life.
4. That Jesus Christ can save you from your sin and give you eternal life.
In a moment I will pray a prayer of commitment. If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, I would invite you to pray this prayer in your own heart with me. Just repeat the words quietly in your heart after me.
Prayer Of Commitment Could everyone bow their heads and close their eyes please.
Dear Lord Jesus this morning I have heard of how You died for my sin. I believe that your death on the cross paid the debt of my sin. I thank you for dying for me. Lord Jesus please come into my heart and cleanse me from my sin. I ask you to be my Lord and Saviour today and from this day forward. Amen.
While everyone has their heads bowed and eyes closed. If you have prayed this prayer today could I ask you to raise your hand. I would like to pray for you and we would like to give you some material to help you in your Christian faith.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.