The First Cry of the Cross
In the first sermon of this series we looked at the fact that the Lord Christ Jesus remained silent for the critical hours when He could have spoken to save Himself but He was determined to save us from our sin so He made no effort to save Himself. Now we can start to look at the times when He chose to speak and find out what He said.
- Before we look at the words the Lord used at this time it would be good to look at His personal condition. He spoke these words as He was forced to lie on the cross, while it was on the ground and then have the nails forced through the flesh and bones of His wrists and ankles.
- He was already physically exhausted, having barely slept for at least twenty four hours. He was also beaten, battered and brutalised. Is 52 tells us that His face was so badly bashed that He was hardly recognisable as a human being. He was so exhausted from the loss of blood that was a consequence of a severe flogging that He could hardly walk, let alone carry His heavy cross. His back was flayed so that the bare bones were visible.
- Emotionally, He was also completely exhausted. When the soldiers first came to take Him away, all His friends ran away so He was completely alone. He was also struggling with the problem of injured innocence. We always feel much worse when we haven’t done something wrong and we are accused of a crime. His trial was a travesty of justice and He was forced to go through a conviction that was a crime in itself. The place of extreme pain is the loneliest place on earth so His pain was compounded by the fact that He was experiencing both extreme physical and emotional pain.
- To add to His woes, the Lord Jesus was experiences deep spiritual pain. Ever since Christ was a very young man He had come to the Lord in prayer, early in the morning, during the ay, in the evening and at night. However, at this time, He was carrying our sins and that caused a restriction in His ability to communicate with God in heaven so even the comfort of prayer was not available to Him at that time.
- It is recorded that when men were being crucified they cursed as loudly as they could during the time that the nails were being forced into their flesh and bones. Crucifixion had been designed by the Phoenicians as a punishment for slaves who ran away. It was made to be so painful that any slave would think carefully before they ran away and risked this extreme form of punishment. The Romans uses this form of execution to punish people who rebelled against their rule. The Lord had told His followers that they were to obey the government in every way unless the government tried to force them to disobey God so Christ was completely innocent of rebellion against the Roman authorities. However, every sinner is a rebel against God’s Holy Law so He was dying a rebel’s death to save rebels from sin. Each one of us, sinners all, are sinners by choice, He didn’t even think one sinful thought in His entire lifetime, He didn’t stop to have one moment of self indulgence, yet He was being executed as a rebel.
- All the soldiers and the Lord’s enemies would have expected Him to finally lose His self discipline under this extreme pain, however, His cries were unlike any of those that that had ever been heard by someone being crucified.
- The Lord Jesus spoke, that is, He didn’t scream in agony or call out overcome by His extreme pain, these were carefully spoken words. Even at this extreme stage of His agony Christ didn’t lose His self control. We know that He was a man in every respect, except that He didn’t ever sin, and even as His battered brutalised body was being stretched and nailed to the cross, He didn’t allow Himself one moment for self indulgence.
- The Lord began by calling to the Father. Even though He was in the most difficult situation He was still able to call to the Father. This reminds us of the parable of the prodigal son;when the son finally came to his senses and returned to the Father, the Father was waiting for the son to return. This, then reminds us of Deut 30 where we find that God told His people that He would be waiting for them to humble themselves before Him and call out then He would hear them. The fifth commandment talks about honouring our parents and the focus of this commandment is our submission to God’s perfect order in the world. Even as Christ suffered on the cross, He was willing to submit Himself to God’s perfect order on earth. Ever sinner can come with confidence and call out the the Father as long as He is willing to submit to God’s perfect order on earth.
- Even though the Lord was suffering extreme torture at this time and He was completely sinless, meaning that the torture was unjust, He asked for forgiveness for those who were tormenting Him. This kind of forgiveness is purely and act of God and can only be given when a person confesses their sin. This is not just a legal issue that deals with past sins but also includes a complete forgiveness of future sin as well. The Lord prayed that this sin would be completely removed from the record of those who were tormenting Him.
- The Lord was primarily praying for the crucifixion detail of four men who were, at that moment actually nailing Him to the cross. They forces His skinless back onto the rough wood and stretched out His wounds so that they tore and bled again but He prayed for their forgiveness. These men were only doing their duty so the Lord was also praying for the Romans who handed Him over to these men so that they could do their job. He was also praying for the Jews who had rejected their true King and handed Him over to the Romans but He was also praying for every sinner. At that stage He was dying for every sinner who had ever lived and all the future sinners as well.
- Many of the people who cried out for the Lord to be crucified were deeply religious and they believed that they were doing the right thing. So many of these people had been badly taught by their leaders while others were completely ignorant of the fact that this man was there to die as their Saviour many of them didn’t know God at all. However God’s forgiveness is available to all who call out to Him, confessing their sins and repenting of all that they have done against God.
- The main issue with this forgiveness is that it depends on Christ and not on anyone else or what they may understand. The Lord prayed this prayer knowing that all the demands of justice would be fully met at His death. This was no prayer for a special deal to be made but it was the prayer of the righteous Judge knowing full well that all the demands of justice were soon to be met in His own death.
It was prophesied of the Lord Jesus that He would make intercession for the transgressors (Is 53: 12). This prophecy was fulfilled when the Lord made this prayer for He was interceding on behalf of all transgressors when He prayed for our forgiveness.
Not long after this the dying thief asked the Lord to remember him and the Lord was able to promise this man that he would be with Him in paradise that day. The prayer was answered almost immediately but the forgiveness last for eternity.
The Lord called on all His followers to love their enemies and He gave the perfect example of loving those that hate you. His enemies were twisted with hate as they called for His death and they mocked Him with delight as He suffered in extreme agony but He prayed for their forgiveness, surely this is the greatest example of loving your enemies that has ever been shown. We can never love our enemies as much as He loved His enemies.
The major issue with the forgiveness that the Lord offers is that it is only available to sinners. While we know that everyone is a sinner forgiveness only comes to those who confess.