The Second Cry from the Cross
We have seen that the Lord chose to remain silent during the time that He was taken to the cross, even though He was able to speak and save Himself. When He did finally open His mouth, He was being nailed to the cross and during that time He prayed for the forgiveness of His tormentors. After that the cross was jolted upright and He settled in to the prolonged agony of this slow, painful form of execution. Sometimes we can be strong when a trial begins but as the time gets longer it is harder and harder for us to maintain our discipline. But what of the Lord? Did his self discipline remain as He hung and suffered for our sins or did it begin to fail. He remained completely sinless and continued to glorify the Father’s Name until the moment that He dismissed His Spirit and died.
- The Lord was physically exhausted by the time He got to Calvary, so much so that He was unable to carry His own cross, as was the custom. There were three people being crucified that day. There had been three scheduled but the Lord was substituted for Barabbas at the last minute. So He was nailed to His cross in the company of two other men, both of whom deserved to die for they were criminals.
- The soldiers in the crucifixion detail had the right to keep the clothes and any other items that belonged to the condemned man. This was one of the perks of their office. They were men who had lost all ability to empathise with others in their suffering because they were hardened to death and suffering. The fact that they took the Lord’s clothes and divided them amongst themselves simply means that the Lord left no relics. Relics tend to distract us from reality and contravene the second commandment.
- When a person was nailed to a cross the were offered vinegar and myrrh to deaden the pain. The soldier was offering the Lord the customary pain killer but He refused. He was dying as the sacrificial substitute for sinners and didn’t want to be drugged out of His mind while He suffered in our place. There will be no chemical relief for those who reject the Lord and have to suffer for rejected the salvation that He bought at such great cost.
- Many of the soldiers involved in crucifixion had reached the stage where they enjoyed the process and they mocked the Lord as part of their “fun”. He had, rightly, claimed to be the King of Israel and His enemies were tormenting Him about this so they joined in.
- When any person was crucified their crime was posted above the cross so that anyone could see the crime and be warned against doing something like that again. Pilate had given orders that this sign be posted above the Lord’s cross to let everyone know His crime. Even though the Jews didn’t want to accept that He was their King, the Roman governor actually put the correct information above the Lord’s cross, He was their King and our King but He had been rejected.
- Even the criminals that were crucified with the Lord mocked and jeered Him, it would help them a bit in their own pain if they were able to torment someone else. While this was happening the Lord was still the Lord from heaven. He still had authority to calm the storm and to call the angels but He had made up His mind that He would save sinners so He made no effort to save Himself.
- It is interesting to note that the Lord prayed for the forgiveness of His tormentors and then just a short while later that prayer was answered in miraculous fashion. One of the thieves must have noticed something remarkable in the quiet dignity of the Lord as He hung on that cross. Perhaps he heard the Lord as He prayed for the forgiveness of His tormentors, maybe He was like the soldiers who fell to the ground when He met them outside Gethsemane and said “I am He”, just overcome by the force of His Divine Presence. Whatever this man saw, he was impressed by the majesty and the purity of the Saviour. He understood that this man, could do something for him even though he was dying alongside Him on the cross.
- This man fitted the only qualification for salvation, he realised that he was a sinner. He spoke to the other thief and reprimanded him for his mockery. “Dost not thou fear God seeing thou art in the same condemnation? We indeed justly for we receive the due reward of our deeds but this man has done nothing amiss.” Whenever a sinner realises the truth of their position and comes to the Lord confessing their sin, He is waiting and ready for their cry. One of the great messages of the Old Testament is the message that the Lord is waiting for the believing remnant to fall on their knees before Him, confess their sins and He will immediately restore them to the place of fellowship. This thief knew that the Lord had broken no laws, either civil or moral and that He had lived an upright life before God, he realised that the Lord had lived a completely holy life from the moment of His birth until this moment. The Lord’s life was like the perfect composition of a great composer, not one note or bar was out of place.
- While some of the versions don’t have the word Lord it is appropriate that he used the word Lord for he was crying to someone who could help him beyond the grave and only the Lord of heaven could reach beyond the grave. This was a remarkable act of faith. This man was dying in desperate agony but he knew that the Lord could actually do something for him. On this day Christ’s cause seemed to be hopeless. The disciples on the Emmaus road said, “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” They all experienced a crisis in hope, Peter had already denied the Lord but this man understood that He is the King and was coming into the glory that He so richly deserved.
- There are many times in our lives when we are struggling with problems that seem to be larger than we can handle. How do we pray in those circumstances? Some people tell us today that if we get the wording of our prayers just right then the Lord can’t help but answer the in the positive. However, the Holy Spirit reminds us in Romans 8: 26 that the Spirit will make intercession for us with groaning that cannot be uttered because we don’t know how to pray as we should. This man just prayed a simple prayer, “Remember me.” He was in too much pain to get the prayer formula correct but he called to the only man who could look into his heart and see his real need as a sinner. He acknowledged that the Lord was the true King when he asked to be remembered when the Lord came into the glory that He deserved in His Kingdom.
- The Lord began by saying “verily” or “amen” for He can make claims with absolute certainty as He is the Lord of the Universe. We often plan things but we cannot be sure that they will turn out like we expect them to. Perhaps it will rain or someone will get sick and we have to change our plans but the Lord can make promises with complete certainty because He knows the end from the beginning and He controls everything.
- The thief asked for some future time but the Lord was the King of the Universe at that very time even though He was dying as the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world. He could offer that man hope immediately. Anyone who comes to the Lord as a sinner will be accepted at the very moment that they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Lord promised that thief that he would be with Him. This is the great comfort for everyone who trusts in the Saviour. We will go to paradise, we will be in the New Jerusalem as part of the new heavens and the new earth but all these things are nothing compared to the fact that we will be with Him. We were created to have a relationship with the God of Heaven and now we will be with Him because.He has paid the price of our Salvation Himself. The Judge is the Saviour, He knows that we are redeemed for eternity.