THE SEVEN LAST
OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the Apostle Paul writes the following about
our calling and about our spiritual battle: For the weapons of our warfare
are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting
down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of
God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
This is a tough calling that is asked of us to bring EVERY thought into the obedience
of Christ. When we are in great physical or emotional pain, stressed out or emotionally
we are all over the place it is very easy to simply react however we feel like
it at the time and not be willing to discipline our reactions in a godly way.
Our conscience may even prod us to react better but sometimes we just don't care
and decide to do as we feel like at the time.
When our pain and stress levels are low it is much easier to live God's way. The
real test comes when our pain and our stress levels are high. In times like these
it is good to remember our ultimate example of how to react during such times
of pain and stress.
Jesus Christ's example on the cross provides great inspiration to encourage all
of us to control and think through our reactions to great emotional and physical
pain. A friend of mine after seeing the controversial Mel Gibson movie The
Passion of the Christ made a very interesting comment after seeing that
movie. He said, after seeing the full enormity of what Christ must have went through,
his respect and admiration for Christ's discipline to react to all of that in
such a godly way went through the roof. This is what I'd like to focus on in this
I'd like to now take us back in time to this dramatic day in history and look
at the last few sayings of Christ on the cross. There are seven sayings of Christ
on the cross that are recorded for us in the gospels. It's interesting to note
that all seven of these have a different theme. They reveal Jesus' innermost feelings
as He poured out His life for us and provide a powerful example of how we, too,
should react in times of great physical and emotional pain.
1] [THEME FORGIVENESS] "Father, forgive them, for they do not know
what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
Jesus, shortly after He was nailed
to the cross prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they
are doing". Instead of being consumed with his own pain and misery, Jesus
asked forgiveness for those responsible for the evil done to Him and by extension,
all who ignorantly go the way of sin.
Now what did Christ mean when He said for they do not know what they do?
These hardened Roman soldiers didn't crucify Christ accidentally so what did He
mean that they didn't know what they were doing?
We have a clue over in Hebrews 12:2 where it says Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured
the cross. It says His mind was totally fixed on the joy that was set before
Him. It was the burning vision of victory for mankind He was about to complete
and His coming Kingdom that kept Him going at this time.
It is also this vision that helps us to understand what Christ meant when He said
that they did not know what they were doing? He may well have projected His mind
forward in time to when these soldiers will be resurrected and the full magnitude
of what they had done to their Saviour will hit them. At that time they will probably
deeply regret being involved in Christ's murder.
When we are deeply hurt by others it helps that we also have this kind of vision
and project our mind forward to when those who hurt us will come to their senses
and repent of their actions. It also helps to remember that everyone is a potential
son or daughter of God.
2] [THEME HOPE] "I tell you the truth today you will be with me
in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Both of the thieves who were crucified with Christ, had early on joined bystanders
in mocking Jesus (Mark 15:32). Luke tells us in Luke 24:39, "One
of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ?
Save yourself and us!'". This man wanted only escape from his pain. This
criminal had no desire to know his Saviour and repent of his sins but a miraculous
change occurred in the other criminal. He came to believe. He, too, had mocked
Jesus earlier, but now he rebuked the other criminal.
We are not told of any other conversation between this second criminal and Jesus.
Perhaps only Jesus' example and prayer, which he overheard, moved him deeply.
He said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke
23:42). Jesus replied by offering him hope for the future: "I tell you
the truth today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
By paradise did Christ mean that this criminal would go straight to heaven? Now,
we know that wasn't the case. What Jesus did know was that in the moment after
this criminal's legs were broken and he died that he would come up in presumably
the second resurrection which would seem like the same day to him. At that time
the earth would have been transformed into a paradise and he will have his chance
to receive salvation.
Again we see the incredible vision that He had on the cross. He just kept focusing
ahead on the joy that was set before Him as it says in Hebrews
12:2. This kind of vision, this kind of thinking way ahead to the end result
can help us to keep things in perspective and to encourage others when we, too,
are suffering and it can help us to temper our responses in a godly way.
3] [THEME CARE] He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!'
Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' (John 19:26-27).
We read in John 19:26-27:
"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing
nearby, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple,
'Behold your mother! From that time on, this disciple took her into his
Now Jesus' mother Mary had four other sons - James, Joses, Simon and Judas. One
might naturally think that one of them would probably be physically caring for
Mary. John 7:5 says that during His ministry Jesus' brothers did not believe
in Him. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 15:7 that He appeared to His brother
James after His resurrection and this is probably when he and his brothers began
to believe as they are with Mary and the apostles in Acts 1:14 when a replacement
is chosen for Judas. James became the leader of the Jerusalem church while Judas
or Jude later wrote the epistle of Jude.
What need of Mary's did Jesus perceive on the cross that wasn't being met here
by His brothers? That John took Mary into his home implies a physical need. Whether
it was a physical or perhaps a spiritual need that wasn't being met Jesus saw
to it that His disciple John would take care of His mother.
Again, instead of being consumed with his own pain and misery, Jesus cared for
those around Him. I remember when I was a teenager going for a visit to our elder,
Jack Clune's sister in the nursing home where Mr Clune is now. Even though she
suffered terribly from emphysema I would be absolutely amazed by how she'd be
constantly be thinking about others and how they were doing compared to the carnal
teenager that I was at the time.
4] [THEME LONELINESS] "'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' -
which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"' (Matthew 27:46;
Jesus here then cried out, "'Eloi,
Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me?"' (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
The Apostle Paul perhaps referred to this moment when he wrote in 2 Corinthians
5:21: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. At this moment the
Father placed on Him the sins of humanity to be paid as He was about to die. Isaiah
59:2 states that our sins separate us from God.
During his entire adult life, Jesus had an intimate and vibrant relationship with
God as His Father. Suddenly, while suffering the agony and fatigue of crucifixion,
Jesus could no longer feel that wonderful heavenly Presence. At this moment He
could empathize with all of us when we feel separated from God because of our
sins and guilt.
5] [THEME - SUFFERING] I am thirsty (John 19:28).
The time of final sacrifice was
close. Jesus had endured and overcome the heat, pain, rejection and loneliness.
He could have suffered and died in silence. Instead, unexpectedly, he asked for
help. "Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would
be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty"' (John 19:28).
Earlier He'd been offered the same drink but with added gall. He refused it as
recorded in Matthew 27:34. Why refuse it earlier and now take a drink at
the moment of death? With the Word Bible Commentary makes this comment
about the vinegar mixed with gall: The narcotic drink would have helped
deaden the pain, but Jesus refused it. He drank the cup of suffering instead.
Instead of reaching for a comforter He was prepared to take the difficult but
necessary path. When finally He had fully drank of the cup of suffering He then
asked for a drink.
6] [THEME - TRIUMPH ]It is finished (John 19:30).
The sixth saying of Christ on the
cross is one of triumph. John 19:30 says: "When he had received the drink,
Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, He bowed His head and gave up his spirit".
Jesus' humility rings in his words. His was not a vain, I-showed-you attitude.
He did not even say, "I did it" or I did it My way as Frank
Sinatra used to sing. He claimed no credit. To the end, Jesus' mind was on the
work He came to do. He triumphantly announced, for all to hear, "It is finished."
7] [THEME REUNION] Father, into your hands I commit my spirit
Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my
spirit.' When he had said this, He breathed his last". He looked forward
to finally being fully reunited with His Father. At that dramatic moment Jesus
died for you and me and became the true Passover sacrifice for each and every
one of us.
The way that John records his gospel, at first, gives the impression that Jesus
died first before the soldier thrust his spear into Jesus' side which is how it
is portrayed in The Passion of the Christ. In The Passion
the soldiers suspect He is already dead and one of them thrusts him in the side
to test that He is dead.
The original text of Matthew's gospel helps clear up the confusion of whether
He died before or after the spear was thrust into Him. In Matthew 27:49,
after He took the drink of vinegar, we read, But the rest said, 'Let Him
alone! Let us see if Elijah comes to save Him.' Most Bible versions then
go straight to verse 50 which says that He cried out again and gave up
Fred Coulter in his A Harmony of the Gospels writes, The latter
half of this verse, which begins with the words 'Then another took a spear
has been omitted from the King James Version. However, a majority of ancient manuscripts
contain this part of the verse; these manuscripts include the codex Vaticanus
Older translations which contain the complete verse are the
Moffatt translation and the Fenton translation (p. 304).
From the latter half of verse 49 it should read, Then another took
a spear and thrust it into His side and out came water and blood. And after crying
out again with a loud voice, Jesus yielded up His spirit.
In conclusion, it is a tough calling to bring EVERY thought into the obedience
of Christ, especially when we are in great pain physically and emotionally. As
we study the perfect caring example of Christ as He suffered on the cross leading
up to the Passover season, it should be a great motivation to all of us to live
and to react in a godly way at all times, both good and bad.