After being betrayed by one of his own disciples, arrested, and subjected to six illegal trials, all of which declared Him innocent, Jesus was condemned to death by crucifixion. Many people see this event as a great tragedy, but it was not a tragedy. It was the reason Jesus had come to earth. It was the culmination of prophecies that promised a solution to man’s problem. It was God’s way of rescuing man from sin, death and the curse that is on this world. The entire Bible teaches about this event, and if we understand it correctly, it will completely change our lives. Every area of our life will reflect a deep love and loyalty to Jesus the Messiah who gave Himself for us. We will not make Him wait, or hold anything back from following Him completely. Our identity will not be in our career, our family, our nationality, or our ancestors, but wholly and completely in the fact that Jesus gave Himself for us, and we belong to Him. If giving yourself completely to Jesus seems strange or difficult to you, you need to study the cross and its meaning a little more. Since we have studied the events of the cross, and their meaning in other lessons, today we will think about the 7 words or phrases Jesus said while He was on the cross.
1. Father, forgive them.Read Luke 23:34 Jesus was referring specifically to the people who executed Him, but I think this is also a statement of why He was there. Jesus took on Himself the sins of all people who lived throughout history. He was on the cross for 6 hours – one hour for each of the millennia, or 1,000 years of history. He was wounded in the hands, thus atoning for the sins of all people who have done sinful deeds. He died to forgive us for what we have done. He was wounded in the feet, atoning for all the times you and I have gone where we should not have gone. Feet represent our walk, which means how we live. He dies to forgive us for the sinful habits and wrong lifestyles we indulge in. He was pierced in the side, and blood and water came out, indicating that His heart was pierced. He died to forgive us for all of our sinful emotions. Every feeling of hatred, rebellion and lust was payed for on the cross. He was wounded in the head by a crown of thorns. He died to forgive every sinful thought we have allowed in our minds. He was wounded in the back by the horrible beating He received. Jesus died to forgive all of the times we have abused or caused distress to other people. He was damaged in the face from having been beaten by the soldiers. Jesus died to forgive all violence and war. You may have heard of the shroud of Turin. It is a cloth that has been discovered that some people believe is the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus’ body. Some people believe it is real. Others don’t. If it is real, Jesus was wounded severely in the knees. He must have fallen many times on the road while he was carrying the cross. Jesus was wounded in knees to receive in Himself the sins of all people in history who have knelt to worship something besides God. Every time we kneel to pray to an idol, every time we burn incense at a funeral to worship the dead person, every time we ring the bell and put our hands together at a temple or “butsudan,” we are worshipping something besides God. These things are sin. We are breaking God’s first commandment, and only Jesus death on the cross can purchase our forgiveness. Jesus died to forgive sins, and He announced it with His first word on the cross.
2. Today you will be with me in Paradise.Read Luke 23:43 Jesus had two main reasons for dying on the cross. The first was to forgive sin. The second reason was to give eternal life to all who will believe and accept Him. He has made us to be with Him, and knows that we will only be truly happy when we are. He also longs to be with us. Do you remember John 14:3? Jesus said He is coming to get us “that where I am, you may be also.” He died to give us eternal life, and to make it possible for us to be with Him.
3. Woman, behold your son.Read John 19:26-27 Jesus was asking John to care for his mother in her old age. Jesus was suffering the most horrible death of all time, but He still took care of His responsibilities and showed love and respect for His parents. His mother needed care, and He made sure she knew that she would be cared for. It’s interesting that Jesus made the effort to take care of His mother. Christians do not worship their ancestors. They do not burn incense at a funeral or worship at a “butsudan.” So many people, especially in Japan, say that Christians have no respect for their parents or ancestors. This is not true. Jesus gave the ultimate example. He didn’t do everything Mary asked. He didn’t allow her to rule His life and He didn’t protect her from pain and sorrow all the time, but He took care of her, even while He was on the cross. He showed that meeting the needs of His parents was one of His highest priorities.
4. My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?Read Matthew 27:46 What is Hell? Is it a place of burning fire and torment? Probably, but the most accurate definition of Hell could be simply a place where God is not. Here on earth at this time, many people are happy without God. That’s because man is made in the image of God, and we can enjoy that image in other people. But what if there is a place where God’s influence does not exist? There would be no love, only hate. There would be no joy, only sorrow. There would be no hope, only despair. There would be no comfort, only great pain. In other words, Hell is the place where God is not. It’s a place where God has no influence. Jesus experienced this on the cross. He must have entered a state of total hopelessness, sorrow and despair. He must have known what it is like to be totally separate from God. How can God be separate from God? It’s a great mystery, but while Jesus was on the cross, He was torn away from God the Father completely, and there is no good without God. He experienced Hell.
5. I thirst.Read John 19:28 Yes, Jesus had lost a lot of blood, and it was a hot day. Of course He was thirsty, but I think this has a much deeper meaning. Do you remember the story of the woman at the well in John 4? Jesus told the woman that He could give her living water. This living water would spring up in her soul, and she would never thirst again. It would lead to total satisfaction and eternal life. Jesus is the living water. How could He thirst? He could thirst only if he had poured out all of Himself for us, and there was nothing of Himself left. He gave all of His infinite self so we could have infinite provision and blessing.
6. It is finished!Read John 19:29-30 We’ve talked about this before. Jesus shouted this with a loud voice. It is the same words that the Greeks used to announce that a prisoner’s jail sentence has been fully paid. Jesus paid every bit for our sin. He purchased our forgiveness and eternal life. He purchased us to belong to Him. It is finished. There is nothing we can do to add to Jesus’ work on the cross. We need to believe and accept. That is all. Anyone who tells you that you must work for your salvation is wrong. Please do not listen to them. Jesus purchased your salvation on the cross. There is nothing more to do.
7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.Read Luke 23:46 Jesus was God. He was the only person in history who had complete control over His own death. Read John 10:17-18 Jesus could have come down from the cross at any time. Even at the very end, He could have stepped down, healed His own body and walked away. Why did He die? There is only one reason. He died for me. He died for you. He died willingly because of His great love for you and me.
How Can You Ignore Him?Read the first line of Hebrews 2:3 Jesus died to forgive your sin. Can you tell Him you don’t want His forgiveness? Can you continue to live in sin after you know how much it has hurt Him? Jesus died to give you eternal life. Can you walk away and not receive that life from Him? Jesus showed how important it is to fulfill our responsibility to other people without allowing them to control us. Do you have the right thinking in your relationships with others, or are you either avoiding your responsibility or letting other people’s desires control you? Jesus experienced Hell for you and I when He was separated from God the Father. He wants you to be where He is. Will you go to Hell and experience the pain, sorrow and hopelessness of being separated from God forever after He purchased a place in Heaven for you? Jesus poured out all of Himself for you. What are you holding back from Him? He wants you to belong to Him. Will you refuse? Jesus did all the work for you to receive eternal life. Will you tell Him that it is not enough? Jesus died willingly for you. What is it that you are not willing to give up for Him? Please receive Him as your Savior today. Don’t wait until the time is right. Please let Him have every part of your life. He is God. He is Good. There is no one who loves you more or deserves your loyalty more. He is offering to be your God. Don’t miss the opportunity to belong to Him.
John 14:19 says: Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. Is this referring to the disciples seeing the resurrected Lord, or to some spiritual intimacy we as believers have with him that is so experiential it's as good as seeing? Or both? Just wondered as I read this today. Any comments?