As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I would like to focus on the 7 last things that Christ mentioned while on the cross. I have already written a couple of posts on the importance of the Resurrection, and you can check them out here.
Yesterday, Friday, the day after Christ inaugurated the Last Supper, the crucifixion took place. What can we learn from Christ’s last statements on the cross, as He was hanging there, pouring out His blood to be the perfect sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath poured out upon sin. As He hung in our place, He shared some great truths for us to ponder, now that our sins have been paid for and our slavery to sin has been broken because of the resurrection.
I. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
This is found in Luke’s Gospel account of the crucifixion.
34But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luke 23)
Even though we were not present at the crucifixion of Christ, we were responsible for it because of our sin. He came to this earth to reconcile sinners (enemies) with their Creator. My sin and your sin hung Christ on the cross. Just because we were not there to yell “crucify Him, crucify Him”, we are still directly responsible. We live in sin out of ignorance and we need forgiveness. Christ came to make peace. That is why He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a white horse. We need forgiveness and Christ offers that to us while on the cross. As humans, we are not worthy of this peace but we desperately need it. Have you experienced peace with God through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? Do you extend that forgiveness to others on a daily basis, especially when they do not deserve it?
II. Today, you will be with Me in paradise
The death, burial, and resurrection opens up the door to heaven for us.
43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23)
As sinners, we do not deserve paradise. We deserve eternal separation from God in the Lake of fire. Thank God that He chose to have mercy on us in His Son, Jesus, so that we can escape the lake of fire and experience eternity in the presence of God, having our relationship with God restored through Jesus Christ. For many, death is a terrible thought. The Bible explains why we fear death. The fear is not of the unknown. The fear comes because we are sinners and we know that upon death we will have to pay the price for our sinful lifestyles. Judgment is coming and it terrifies us.
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9)
We can be spared that judgment. When Christ was on the cross, He bore our sins and the judgment that they bring. He extends a hand of love to us now and offers paradise in place of judgment. Have you experienced that exchange, receiving paradise instead of judgment or are you under sin’s condemnation and terrified of death?
III. Behold your son, behold your mother
26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son !” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19)
Sin destroys relationships. It destroyed our relationship with God and as a result, it ruins our relationships with others. Looking at Adam and Eve, once their relationship with God was severed, they began to see a break down in their relationship with each other. Before sin, they were open and honest with other. After sin came into the picture, they began to try and cover their sin and blame each other. Take a look at what happened to Sarah and Abraham when they chose to go against God’s will. Their relationship began to break down and their relationship with Hagar also soured. Sin destroys relationships. Even the 10 commandments explain this. The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship to God and the remaining 6 deal with our relationships with others. If we do not have a relationship with God this will be manifested in our relationships with others. Instead of loving and serving others, we will seek to use them for our own gain. Christ hung on the cross to break down the barrier that separated us from God. Once that barrier is broken down, we are able to build community with others by loving and serving one another.
IV. My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me
The Father and Son had coexisted from all eternity in a perfect relationship. Then, the Son bore the sins of humanity on the cross and for a moment in time, the Father and the Son were separated as the Son experienced the full wrath of the Father poured out on Him. He was punished with an eternity of wrath for a moment in human history.
46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMASABACHTHANI ?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27)
This also fulfills prophecy, a prophecy written about Christ almost 1,000 years before His birth. King David wrote this very phrase in the 22nd Psalm.
This is also recorded by Mark in his Gospel.
34At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?”which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Mark 15)
God required a perfect sacrifice to atone for mankind’s sin. Jesus chose to be that sacrifice and He met all of the requirements. Being the sacrifice meant paying the eternal price for sin. He was able and willing to do it for you and for me. Do you realize what He has done for you? Are you grateful for that sacrifice? How do you show your gratitude? The best way is to repent of your sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior. If you do not, that wrath that was poured out on Christ will be poured out on you as well and you will be eternally separated from God. It is not a scare tactic. It is a reality. That is why we fear death. If you have experienced this reality then you need to get the message out to others.
V. I thirst
What is the significance of this statement? The first thing that it signifies is fulfilled prophecy.
28After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture,said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19)
David wrote of this event once again, in Psalm 22.
15My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws ; And You lay me in the dust of death.
David also wrote of the sour wine in Psalm 69.
21They also gave me gall for my food And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
This was all prophesied many, many years before Jesus’ birth. He fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. In all, there are about 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning the first Advent of the Messiah. Jesus met them all, even His gender, birth place, and birth parents, things of which He had no control over, humanly speaking.
VI. It is finished
30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished !” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19)
God’s plan for the ages just happened. God had spoken of this event all the way back in Genesis 3 when He told Eve that through her seed, the serpent’s head would be crushed. Sin’s power would be destroyed and it was finally finished. The agony of the cross. The pain of the wrath of God. All of it had been endured and it was done. Now glory awaited. The resurrection was to come. Christ would give out the Great Commission and then ascend to heaven to send the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid it all. He has done everything. All you have to do is receive His gift. It will change your life. He calls you to take His gift and allow Him to change you as you follow Him day by day. There is nothing that you have to do to earn God’s favor. In fact, there is nothing that you can do. It has already been done. You just need to receive it. Have you received the free gift that Christ offers? What keeps you from it?
VII. Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit
46And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23)
This is a quote from David’s Psalm 31, specifically verse 5. David is speaking about himself and that he trusts the Lord no matter what. He will entrust his life and spirit to the Lord even when surrounded by enemies. This is what Christ did all of His life here on earth. Finally, He commits His Spirit into the hands of the Father. I believe that we have much to learn from this. We are to live in such a way that we trust the Lord day by day, moment by moment. In fact, this is exactly what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
11‘Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6)
We are to pray daily and we are to depend on God for our daily bread. This requires great trust.
25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink ; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and thebody more than clothing ?26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet yourheavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life ?28“And why are you worried about clothing ? Observe how the lilies of the field grow ; they do nottoil nor do they spin,29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith !31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will wear forclothing?’32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things ; for your heavenly Father knows that you needall these things.33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34“So do not worry about tomorrow ; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6)
Do you live like this? Do you trust the Lord in the little things? Do you live everyday for His kingdom or so that you can have what to eat, drink, wear etc.? When it comes to spiritual things, are you just too busy with life or do you place a high value on your spiritual life? Jesus taught and left a great example of what it means to entrust our lives to the Father daily, are you doing it?
I hope that this lesson has been helpful to you as you walk through Holy Week, living out the blessings of the resurrection on a daily basis. It is Saturday but do not lose heart, Sunday is coming. May the Lord bless you as you seek know Him and serve Him day by day. Have a great Easter celebration.