7 Last Words of Christ
What do they mean, and how can we apply them to ourselves today? Watch the live recording or continue down to read our notes, and please, feel free to comment.
Following by Kip Maynard.
“Father forgive them, for they have not known what they do.” — Luke 23:34 (YLT)
Brothers and sisters, we welcome you all to this blessed occasion where we once again observe the seven sayings of our beloved Redeemer from the Cross. If this is your first time to join us, we say welcome. If this is your first time to hear these sayings, it is our hope that you are blessed and encouraged by the constantcy and consistency of scripture. And if you are among those who have heard these sayings and even studied these sayings, may they again have a freshness of enlightenment as we observe again the great unmeasurable compassion of our Living Savior. I will be covering the first two statements from the Cross found in Luke 23:34 and 23:43.
I would like to read them from the Young’s Literal Translation as I believe it captures the greatest essence of what Jesus knew as the God who saves. But before I do I would also like to preface these sayings be reading John 1:1-5 and 10-13.
We see from the first five verses of John that Jesus has had an uphill battle from the beginning. Here the Word of God tells us that the Creator of all that is has appeared in His creation and His creation has become so darkened that it did not perceive Him. And yet, our Christ, was not dissuade. In fact, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered.
In John 11:45-52, after the raising of Lazarus, we find another telling event in the Life of Christ:
Many, therefore, of the Jews who came unto Mary, and beheld what Jesus did, believed in him; but certain of them went away unto the Pharisees, and told them what Jesus did; the chief priests, therefore, and the Pharisees, gathered together a sanhedrim, and said, 'What may we do? because this man doth many signs? if we may let him alone thus, all will believe in him; and the Romans will come, and will take away both our place and nation.'and a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being chief priest of that year, said to them, 'Ye have not known anything, nor reason that it is good for us that one man may die for the people, and not the whole nation perish.' And this he said not of himself, but being chief priest of that year, he did prophesy that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that also the children of God, who have been scattered abroad, he may gather together into one.
After demonstrating His authority over death and its corrupting influence, instead of bowing in recognition of His authority, people sought to kill Him. But for this cause came He into this world. So when we get to Luke 23:34, should we be surprised by Jesus’ statement of “Father forgive them for they have not known what they do”?
A people blinded by uncomprehending darkness.
But my brothers and sisters, we see an answer to this prayer of our beloved Jesus and a fulfillment of John 1:10-13. for 53 days later at Pentecost when Peter stands and says, “this Jesus whom ye did crucify” (Acts 2:36) that these hearers were now pierced in their hearts and came to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
The second saying is no less miraculous. This statement occurs in Luke 23:43. The scripture tells us that on the same day as Jesus’ crucifixion, that there were 2 others being crucified with Him. They were classified as criminals or evildoers or robbers. Let’s just say they weren’t there because of model citizenship, behavior, or because of zealous behavior for the house of God. In Matthew 27, we are told that when the scene was first commenced that many people and passersby hurled insults at Jesus and mocked Him. I personally believe that some of these people who are now insulting Him, had only days earlier welcomed Him on His triumphal entry and were shouting “Hosanna, hosanna in the highest!”
For now, they had their mighty miracle working King who would lead them out from under Roman rule, and here He was just a few days later prostrated in the most humiliating manner, now despised and rejected of men. And yet, somehow in the midst of His own suffering and their protestations, one of the condemned sees a man suffering as no other. What he beheld; I cannot say. But somehow; somewhere in the midst of it all, he sees the Lordship of Jesus. He understands the sign above Jesus’ head hailing Him, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Maybe he saw the tetragrammaton, a four-letter acrostic for Yaweh written by Pilate and protested by the chief priests.
We don’t know. But this we do have recorded that the one criminal rebukes the other and then requests of Jesus that Jesus would remember him when He (Jesus) came into His kingdom. And Jesus’ response in Luke 23:43 was to say “verily I say to thee, today with Me thou shalt be in the paradise”. YLT
A couple of things I find amazing in this is that Jesus knew the day of His death as well as that of the criminal. Death on a cross was excruciating, usually lasting days because of the natural response of the body against pain to continue to live. So maybe Jesus could have known of His own weakness because of the brutal beating He had taken and blood loss from that, but the criminal’s longevity at suffering was a Roman’s pride and joy. They wanted it to last as long as possible. How did Jesus know that these criminal’s legs would be broken to hurry their demise, seeing it was done after He had died? It always come down to the fact that the Lord knows those who are His. He is the God of yesterday, today, and forever. He knew that Satan had nothing by which to hold Him and that His death was His victory. The path to His kingdom which is not of this world, so He could confidently say this repentant sinner, “Today with me thou shalt be in the paradise.”
Following by Luke Thorne.
"When Jesus saw his mother 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!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." — John 19:26-27
Three reasons we can take comfort in this:
Demonstrates Jesus’ humanity and affection for his family.
Jesus is often seen as some kind of Superhero, but the fact of the matter is, he too succored at his mother’s breast and cried through nights of teething. He was a man—not just God—and in his last moments of that humanity, his thoughts turned towards his mother, whom he loved.
A reminder that even in his moment of greatest weakness and humiliation, his heart was pouring out to others.
At the darkest moment, Jesus’ heart of love was revealed by so simple a statement. His concern for Mary and for John, his beloved disciple—that they not be alone and abandoned—should break our hearts. It was the last will of a broken and dying man, and it revealed no hypocrisy or selfishness… only abiding love.
“How much more can he meet all our needs today from the right hand of God, full of power and wealth and glory.” —Desiringgod.org
Illustrates his plan for the Church.
Of course Mary had other sons who would take care of her. But Jesus saw a need far greater than physical care after he was gone. His vision for the Church—his body on earth after his mortal body was discarded—was the sharing of life together through personal commitment, and selfless care.
Jesus’ was pointing to a more important family than the one any of us might be born into. He was calling Mary and John into a spiritual family, who’s bonds could never be broken. He calls each of us today, to that same family.
Behold, your brothers. Behold, your sisters. We, when unified under grace, are the new creation.
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”" — Matthew 27:46
Charles Spurgeon said,
“IF any one of us, lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ had been anywhere near the cross when he uttered those words, I am sure our hearts would have burst with anguish, and one thing is certain-we should have heard the tones of that dying cry as long as ever we lived…
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? I marvel not that my disciples should, but why hast thou gone, my Father, God? Why couldst thou leave me?" there is a wondrous meaning there.
"Then take it thus, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? I know why thou hast smitten me; I can understand why thou dost chasten me; but why hast thou forsaken me? Wilt thou allow me no ray of love from the brightness of thine eyes-no sense of thy presence whatsoever?"
"This was the wormwood and the gall of all the Saviour's bitter cup. Then God forsook him in his direst need.”
The statement of Jesus on the cross is a direct quote from Psalm 22; a prophetic psalm written by David. It proclaims the despair Jesus found as he became sin and was cut off from his Holy father. It explains why we are wretched—for by our own will, each of us forced the Christ into this moment of abject abandonment.
Read Psalm 22 now. Visualize Christ upon the cross. I want you to see it, feel it; open yourself to how Jesus’ felt at this moment and allow the Spirit to walk beside you.
Psalm 22 (ESV):
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; "He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet-- I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Following by Paul Wallace.
The three hours of darkness had finally lifted. Jesus must have looked even worse than before. He had endured the onslaught of hell and the wrath of God for your sins and mine. The Suffering Servant Song tells us His form was marred beyond human likeness.
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth." — John 19:28-29
This verse tells us that at that point Jesus knew that everything was already accomplished. He came to pay our sin debt, and His mission was now complete. But He had a declaration to proclaim. Dehydrated from blood loss, He needed some moisture on His lips, tongue, and throat to say it loud enough for all to hear.
We often think of Jesus’ life on earth as being on another plain, above the aches and illness that we experience. He was tempted in every way that we are, and that could not be true if He did not experience the worst that we face. He certainly experienced the worst on the cross. He had to ask for that sour wine from the foot of the cross to moisten His mouth enough to make two final declarations. In fulfillment of Psalm 69:21, He asked for that sour wine.
"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." — John 19:30
Matthew 27:50 tells us this was a loud cry. Jesus mustered His strength to tell the world He had accomplished what He came to do. It was the very words that were written on invoices when they were paid in full. The sin debt that was against us, demanding the justice of God, was paid in full! That tells us all our past, present and future sins were upon Jesus, nailed to His cross, and payment in full was received by the Father. Justice was satisfied. Jesus bride was purchased with His own blood. Satan’s head was crushed. He no longer has a claim on those who have placed their faith in Him. We are bound for heaven, forever in the presence of our Lord who loves us enough to lay down His life for us. There is no better news than that!
When this world disappoints us and delivers us bad news, remember we already have the best news that is far greater than all our disappointments. Our destiny is set, and it couldn’t be any better than it is. It is sure, for it is secured by the blood of Jesus. He will help us persevere to the end. He will see us through any hardships if we let Him. He is ours now and forever. I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!
"Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last." — Luke 23:46
His last words were a prayer of final surrender. He had surrendered to the Father’s leading His entire life. Now He was crying out a final surrender of laying His spirit into the Father’s hands. He knew death was not the end. And He knew the predictions of His body not seeing decay. He trusted the Father to see Him through death to resurrection, not unlike Abraham’s faith that was willing to slay Isaac believing that God would keep His promises to make him the father of many nations through Isaac.
This is why we have no fear. Jesus has gone before us to make a way across the Jordan into the promised land. We know where we are going because He has gone before us and shown us His power to raise the dead. He proved He is the resurrection and the life.
We too will one day place our spirit into the Father’s hands unless that trumpet sound comes first. And when we do, we can know that the Father will receive us because of what happened on the following Sunday. But that will have to wait for Sunday. Right now, we are focused on the price He paid to liberate us from sin and death. With gratitude for undeserved mercy we thank Him with all our hearts for loving us to that extent. Unto us a Son is given. And if God was willing to give His only Son to ransom us from the grave is there any good thing that He would withhold from us!
I encourage you to read the accounts of the crucifixion in all four Gospels this evening. Then take a moment with you family to take communion together to remember the wonder of what Jesus did for us.
— Prayer —
In the midst of this pandemic we realize all the more that you came to save us from something far worse than physical death. Help us to increasingly realize the greatness of your love that caused you to be willing to suffer like you did for our eternal souls. Be with all those who are suffering and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We ask that this time of trial turn many hearts to You, as we realize how fragile life is. We look forward to the victory we will celebrate on Sunday. In the mighty and matchless name of Jesus we pray.
Peace to the brothers and sisters, love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.