The Seven Sayings of the Cross
Text: Luke 23:46
Place Preached - (Philippines)
Date Preached - (04/05/07)
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
"Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
"Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!" (John 19:26,27).
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; cp. Mark 15:34).
"I thirst" (John 19:28).
"It is finished" (John 19:30)
"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
The last saying of Christ on the cross was a prayer just as the first and fourth sayings were also prayers.
This prayer is very similar to the prayer of David in Psalm 31:5 in which David says, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit."
To further examine this seventh and final saying from the cross, we note the control in the saying and the character in the saying.
I. The Control in Saying
Jesus Christ was not a victim of circumstances.
He did not lose control of His life at Calvary.
Though unknown and unrecognized by all His enemies, Christ still controlled Calvary.
This final prayer emphatically proves this fact. Christ had said earlier that He would give His life of His own volition, and nobody would take it from Him.
John 10:17,18 "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down"
That is a pretty big statement. The fact that He fulfilled it to the letter is one of those unanswerable proofs of the veracity of Jesus Christ.
Christ should have died long before He did because of the horrible abusing His body experienced in the trial and the crucifixion.
But He kept Himself alive until all things should be fulfilled.
At the time of His choosing, He died.
This prayer was His time. He chose the time. He gave His life. No one took it.
John 19:9-11 9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
In Matthew 27:50 the words "yielded up" mean "dismissed"which is the language of authority.
Christ on His own volition departed this life.
Our Luke text says, "gave up" which also indicates control. His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up on His own. He was in full control of Calvary.
The crucifixion was not a victory for the devil or man overpowering God.
It was not an unplanned event or an unexpected event for God. It was an event planned for man’s greatest need and carried out by God and Christ to the letter.
1 Peter 1:18-20 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The last saying of Christ on the cross underscores this truth that Deity, not humanity, was in control of all the events and circumstances and happenings of Calvary.
II. The Character in the Saying
This last saying by Jesus Christ at Calvary really shows in a wonderful way the wonderful character of the Son of God.
The last thing men say before they die is often very revealing regarding their character.
Men die the way they live, and death bed statements often bring this truth out very vividly.
ILLUS: Thomas Hobbs, the atheist, said on his death bed that he was "about to take a leap into the dark."
ILLUS: Thomas Paine another adamant unbeliever said at the time of his death, "If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."
ILLUS: Voltaire, one of the most famous of the atheists said on his death bed, "I am abandoned by God and man" (and how literally it was of God abandoning Him, for Christ’s prayer "Why hast thou forsaken me" was the experience of the unrepentant sinner).
ILLUS: On the other hand, the great and godly missionary Adoniram Judson said on his death bed, "I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school. I feel so strong in Christ."
ILLUS: David Brainerd another great saint of God said at his death, "I am going into eternity and it is sweet for me to think of eternity."
The last statement of Christ was most revealing of His character. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" revealed that Christ died praying to God, believing in God, and honoring God.
A. He died praying to God.
How noble that Christ died praying.
How noble that anyone should die with a prayer on their lips.
Some die with a curse on their lips. But how much nobler to die with a prayer on your lips.
However, you do not die praying if you have not done much praying in your life.
Christ prayed much during His earthly life as can be seen in the Scriptures. He was continually in the spirit of prayer. To die with a prayer on His lips was only natural for Christ.
You do at your death what you have done in your life.
B. He died believing in God.
Christ had faith in God to take care of His Spirit, and His prayer calmly expressed that fact.
Death will manifest the character of our faith as nothing else.
When Job faced death, his faith was so strong that he could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15).
When the three Hebrew children (friends of Daniel) were threatened with death if they did not bow down to the image which Nebuchadnezzar had made, their strong faith was evident in what they said to the king.
They said, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (Daniel 3:17,18).
When Jacob died, he showed his strong faith in telling his sons to bury him in the promised land, the land which God had promised to Abraham and his seed after him.
When Joseph died, his faith shone brightly, for he said, "I die; and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Genesis 50:24).
These men of the Bible whose faith was strong in death also had faith that was strong in life. For faith to shine at death it must shine in life, too.
C. He died honoring God.
When Christ entrusted His Spirit into the hands of God, that really honored God.
You really honor a person when you entrust into their care your most priceless possession.
Your spirit has no equal in value, and Christ entrusted His Spirit to the care of Almighty God.
Folk are not in the habit of honoring God at death if they have not honored Him in life.
As we noted earlier, you die as you have lived.
Balaam, the corrupt prophet hired to curse the Israelites, said, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end by like his" (Numbers 23:10).
But Balaam did not die the death of the righteous, and his end was not like that of the righteous.
Why? Because Balaam did not live like the righteous.
He was a rascal compromiser who helped the Moabites corrupt many Israelites through idol worship and immorality (Numbers 31:16).
Because of his unholy way of living, Balaam was killed with the unholy Midianites (Numbers 31:8) when God commanded Israel to go to war against Midian.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
But Christ was a different story. He came to do the will of God and when He died, He gave honor to God, which honor is seen in His last saying at Calvary.
A Prayer of Consummation
Christ’s final saying from the cross, right after “It is finished!” was a prayer that expressed the unqualified submission that had been in His heart from the very beginning.
Christ died as no other man has ever died. In one sense He was murdered by the hands of wicked men (Acts 2:23).
In another sense it was the Father who sent Him to the cross and bruised Him there, putting Him to grief—and it pleased the Father to do so (Isaiah 53:10).
Yet in still another sense, no one took Christ’s life. He gave it up willingly for those whom He loved (John 10:17–18).
When He finally expired on the cross, it was not with a wrenching struggle against His killers. He did not display any frenzied death throes. His final passage into death—like every other aspect of the crucifixion drama—was a deliberate act of His own sovereign will, showing that to the very end, He was sovereignly in control of all that was happening.
John says, “he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30). Quietly, submissively, He simply yielded up His life.
Everything had come to pass exactly as He said it would. Not only Jesus, but also His killers, and the mocking crowd, together with Pilate, Herod, and the Sanhedrin—all had perfectly fulfilled the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God to the letter.
And thus Christ calmly and majestically displayed His utter sovereignty to the end.
It seemed to all who loved Him—and even many who cared little for Him—like a supreme tragedy.
But it was the greatest moment of victory in the history of redemption, and Christ would make that fact gloriously clear when He burst triumphantly from the grave just days later.