News and Views
JESUS' LAST WORDS
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Jesus spoke seven times as He hung on the cross. For each breath He took, He had to raise Himself up with His feet and legs to take the weight off of His arms so His lungs could expand. Obviously, it was not easy to speak while being crucified.
His first words were in regard to the soldiers who were merely doing their job, performing their duty to Rome as they nailed Him to the cross, lifted it up and dropped it into position. When we think about it, this act of killing God the Son was really the worst act in all of history. Nevertheless, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 NIV) How gracious and divine! We who have committed ourselves to Jesus seek to be like Him, to align our will with His. Do we recognize when those who hurt us do not realize, do not understand what they are doing, and forgive them? Would our relationships improve if we did so?
Jesus was crucified between two thieves, one who reviled Him, and one who defended Him, acknowledged his own wrong doing, and asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom. Jesus responded, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43 NIV) Clearly, it is never to late in this life to come to Jesus. No one is excluded from coming to Him through repentance and faith.
When Jesus noticed His mother standing near the cross as well as the disciple whom He loved, He said to His mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and told the disciple, "Here is your mother." (John 19:26-27 NIV) Among His last concerns was the ongoing wellbeing of His mother, which fits with the fifth of the Ten Commandments, "Honour your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12 NIV) In an age when children are too often encouraged to blame parents and are too often estranged, when too many children are never even allowed to be born, do we as believers honour and respect our parents in ways pleasing to God?
When Jesus for the fourth time spoke from the cross, He cried out in utter despair, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46 NIV) As Jesus bore the sin, the rebellion against God, of all humankind; as He died in our place; God the Father in His Holiness turned away. Death is the natural consequence for each one of us choosing our own will over God's will, as we all have done. Jesus, very God and very man, took that consequence upon Himself so that we, by accepting His action on our behalf, may be restored to relationship with God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Therein lies our hope of a joyful eternal life with our wonderful God.
Next Jesus said, "I am thirsty." (John 19:28 NIV) What a very human statement which reminds us of His earlier words, "If anyone gives even a cup of cod water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42 NIV) Little kindnesses count.
Jesus' sixth statement was, "It is finished." (John 19:30 NIV) This was His cry of triumph. He had completed the work which He had come to earth to do. We have only to accept His completed work of atonement to be reunited with God.
Finally, there was His final statement of trust, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46 NIV) In trusting unity with God the Father, He gave up His life on this earth. If we have walked through this life with God through faith in the finished work of Jesus, or if we have accepted Jesus free gift of justification and eternal life at the very last moment of life, we, too, may peacefully and joyfully commit ourselves to God as we pass through death's door.
Through the horror, the agony, the death on the cross, Jesus made possible the restoration of loving relationship with God for each one of us. He says to each one of us, "I am doing this for you, you know." It cost Him so much; how can we refuse such generosity, such love, such mercy? This Good Friday as we remember the crucifixion, may all who have not already done so accept the free gift of reconciliation with God. Then we will all be truly able to celebrate the wonderful joy of the resurrection, the proof that Jesus was and did all that He claimed, the proof that we, too, may live again.
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