Once again, I'm gonna use material from my brother Chuck's sermon covering today's reading. He preached a lesson entitled, "Seven Thoughts From the Cross," of course covering the seven different things that Jesus said while suspended in mid-air, hanging by some nails to a couple of bars of wood. See what our Lord considered important enough to say while in that position, and what we can learn from them:
1. Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they're doing."
This is an incredible example that Jesus sets for us. As One who had previously taught, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you," Christ was doing that very thing. He was offering a prayer of love and forgiveness for the very people who were killing Him.
2. Jesus said, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
If you read Mark's gospel, he tells us that along with everyone else, both of the criminals hanging with Jesus hurled insults at Him. However, something changes in the heart of one of the men, as he begins to rebuke the other criminal, and then asks Jesus to remember him when He comes in His kingdom. Jesus' words speak not only of His marvelous love and grace, but also of the power of HIs life to transform the hearts of men.
3. Jesus said, "Woman, behold thy son; son, behold thy mother."
One of the most important commandments in the Law of Moses was to "Honor thy father and mother." Paul quotes it to the church at Ephesus as being "the first commandment with promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." In fact, Paul teaches of the importance of taking care of one's family, saying that "anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Jesus, in the moment of His death, is doing this very thing, honoring His mother by ensuring that she will be cared for when He is gone.
4. Jesus said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
This is probably my favorite of all seven of Jesus' statements from the cross. One has to wonder if Jesus, carrying the weight of all the sin of the world was, for the first time ever, forsaken by God? That's certainly a possibility, one that I wouldn't even want to imagine. But if one is familiar enough with the Old TEstament, they would also recognize this statement as the beginning of a psalm of David, which starts out expressing feelings of hopelessness. But it ends with, "You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard." Rather than a cry of helplessness, Jesus might have been crying out hope and victory through this statement of His.
5. Jesus said, "I thirst."
First of all, I love the reminder that although Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human. He experienced everything we do, including hunger and thirst. There are so many things that I could say here, because there were so many times that Jesus has offered Himself to those who were "thirsty", claiming to be the Living Water, claiming that whoever drinks the water He gives them will never thirst. In fact, in His revelation to the apostle John, He issues the glorious invitation: "Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life." In the same way that Jesus was thirsty, may we always be thirsty for Him.
6. Jesus said, "It is finished."
This statement can be viewed as yet another cry of victory. Satan thinks that his battle with God is finished, as he manages to have God's own Son killed. Rather, Jesus' is able to claim that the redemptive work that He came to do--giving Himself as a sacrifice for all our sins--is finished.
7. Jesus said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."
All throughout Christ's life, we see a willingness to submit to the Father. He claims that He did nothing of His own accord, but only did and said what the Father wanted Him to. Even as Jesus begged for His own life the night that He was betrayed, He ended His prayers with the submission of "Not my will, but Thine be done." As Jesus is taking His last breaths, He is submitting His life into the hands of His loving Father.