Jesus faced the cup of God’s wrath upon sin on that hideous cross. It is incredible to consider all that He endured in those 18 hours. The physical suffering was horrific but the spiritual war within the three hours of darkness is something we cannot comprehend. In those three hours, when utter darkness engulfed the cross, Jesus faced the sins of the world placed upon Him. Hell was unleashed to vent its furry against the Son of God.
The final words of a dying loved One are most precious. We recall them at our moments of trial, discouragement or challenge; seeking strength, encouragement and even direction from them. Jesus spoke seven times during the closing moments on the Cross. Before the darkness descended on the scene, Jesus spoke three times. During the darkness, He spoke once. And after the darkness had passed, He uttered three more sentences of love. The seven utterances of Jesus from the cross, the seven `Words' as they are known are of eternal significance to those who listen to them, a heroic confrontation of evil inspiring millions the world over. When we examine what our Savior exclaimed on the cross, we can learn about His true character and His integrity before the Father. We can see the love that pours out from His wounds, directed at us! Neither the heat, nor the sweat mixed with the blood, nor the agony and emotional distress distracted Him from having you and me on His mind that day. From these Seven Words of Jesus we can draw strength and courage for our own walk on this earth as we follow His call to be His disciples. He suffered the extreme penalty of death that we may live!
The gospel writers simply wrote "They crucified Jesus". Who crucified him? It would be truer to say "We crucified the Lord". Every one of us is equally guilty, "They do not know what they do" said Jesus. What a perceptive word this is. Mankind had become so blinded by evil, so corrupted by sin that it reacted violently to the purity and holiness of God as shown in the Lord Jesus Christ. The wonder of this Word from the Cross is that there is forgiveness for the disciples who forsook Jesus and fled in the night, Forgiveness for the evil ones who drove Him to the Cross, Forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed him to the tree, Forgiveness for the bitter hearts of his religious enemies, the priests and teachers, Forgiveness for every person who has ever sinned or made a mistake. Bible says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).Jesus practicing what He preached. One day Jesus preached on the mountain, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” On another occasion He told His disciples to forgive 70 times 7 . Needless to say, it is much easier to talk about forgiveness than it is to forgive. But what Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount, He practiced on the grim hill of Calvary.The Bible says, “Be ye therefore kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32). We have been freely forgiven; therefore we should freely forgive. When others insult you or curse you, or show you their distaste or lack of approval, how do you respond?
No man is beyond hope of redemption in whose soul still lingers some fear of God. And as he spoke, faith rose in his soul and he blurted out his appeal, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." It was a plea that did not fall on deaf ears. The response was immediate, "Truly, I tell you, and today you will be with me in Paradise." The word "Paradise" is a Persian word meaning "a walled garden". When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a “companion of the garden” and he was chosen to walk in the royal garden with the king. It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief. He promised the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven. "You will be with me" said Jesus.This word from the cross teaches some wonderful truths. It illustrates that the way of salvation is wondrously simple. The devil has blinded the eyes of men and women to thinking that it is hard to be saved, difficult to come to Christ and to become a Christian. But this clearly isn’t true. The man was saved simply by asking the Lord to save him. In the words of his request, there’s the implication that he felt and confessed his need of salvation; he believed the Lord could and would save him and he committed himself to the Lord and trusted him to save him (Romans 10:13).Another important lesson to learn from the personal encounter of the dying thief with Jesus is that salvation doesn’t depend on religious ceremonies, good deeds or any contribution from man. Now it is not just the religious leaders or the soldiers that mock Jesus, but even one of the criminals, a downward progression of mockery. The thief admitted that the cross was where he ought to die and that he was doomed for despair. And friend, that is the first step required in order to get saved. Every person must admit that he is helpless and lost before there is any hope of his ever getting saved. And when this man asked for mercy, Jesus did not accuse him of being a criminal and a wicked person beyond help. Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Not only will I remember you, but I will take you with me to a land where you will never suffer again, and where all your troubles and tears will be gone forever! That is marvelous grace.
The Second Word from the Cross ministered salvation to the penitent sinner, but the Third Word introduces us to the wider implications of this great salvation. It illuminates relationships as seen through the cross of Jesus, especially that of love. A psychologist once said, "there are two things that men want: power and love." At the very heart of all our wanting is the love that Jesus gave us on the cross. The disciple that Jesus refers to in his word is John, and his gospel contains several of the most important statements that Jesus made on love. "Greater love has no one than this that one lays down his life for his friends" (15:13). "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (3:16).
This Third Word from the Cross also reveals the relationship of Jesus with his disciple John, the one who had been closest to him. It didn’t require a long explanation for John to know what was meant. We read that from that hour John took Mary into his own home. The question might be raised, "But why was not Mary committed into the care of one of her other children?" The answer is probably because they as yet hadn’t received him by a living faith. John was ready and acted without hesitation. It has been said that this Word from the Cross is the least theological, but practical application of the gospel must never be separated from its message. It is only as theory is translated into practice that relationship with Christ becomes a living reality. This Word tells us that there’s love for you in the cross, and it’s a love which having been received, is to be shared with others.
There is a depth of feeling in this cry from the heart, made with an intensity matched only by the darkness which had draped itself over the terrible spectacle. It’s surely symbolic that the sun couldn’t shine upon such a scene as the crucifixion of its Creator. The darkness lasted three hours and was an outward sign of the darkness that now wrapped itself around the soul of Jesus. Wave after wave of evil swept over his consciousness. All the sin of the world, the awful legacy of the fall of mankind was laid upon Jesus. "He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor 5:21).Only the night before, Jesus had told his disciples that in his hour of trial they would all desert him but he said, "Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me" (John 16:33). But now at the climax of his passion, at the moment of making atonement for our sin it was necessary that even his Father should stand aside. Just as a scapegoat of the Old Testament had to be banished into the wilderness, so Jesus had to bear the sin of the world alone - literally. God forsaken. He who was made sin for us was feeling the punishment of the sinner, being separated from God.How Jesus felt as his loud cry broke the dreadful silence of that moment of destiny we cannot know. Never before had he stood alone, forsaken by God his Father. Yet, although he was forsaken he never ceased to be his Father’s well-beloved Son, for he was carrying out his Father’s will and purpose in becoming our atonement for sin. This Word from the Cross points us to the cost of the atonement made. Thank God, there’s atonement for sin at the Cross by the Lord Jesus. It’s something we must never lose sight of .It is the eternal cry of all those who see around them It resonates wherever there is oppression and suffering and the helpless bleed because they have no one to protect them. All during His ministry Jesus had known what it meant to be forsaken. Early, the members of His own family forsook Him. Nazareth, His home town, had forsaken Him. The nation He came to save forsook Him. But in every such instance He could always steal away to the tender healing fellowship of His Heavenly Father. But now, even God turns from Him. That means because we have sinned we are destined to be forsaken of God forever. But you see, Jesus offered to pay that penalty on the Cross, for the Scriptures say, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus was bearing the wages of your sins and of my sins, and therefore He had to be actually forsaken of God so that we need not be forsaken of God forever in the eternal regions of the lost.
The hours of torture on the Cross took a tremendous toll on the body of Jesus. Execution by crucifixion was not a sudden death like being shot by a firing squad. It was a long drawn out, lingering death carried out under the Eastern sun. His wounded hands and feet would be quickly inflamed, resulting in a fever of thirst and His body would soon be dehydrated. The prophetic 22nd Psalm which anticipated our Lord’s passion speaks graphically of his condition, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth" (14,15). Yes, our Saviour’s sufferings were real. Although Jesus was divine he was also uniquely man and felt all the emotions and pain as we feel them.Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:21. As I reflect on Jesus’ statement, “I am thirsty,” I keep thinking of my own thirst. It’s nothing like that of Jesus. Rather, I am thirsty for him. My soul yearns for the living water that Jesus supplies (John 4:10; 7:38-39). I rejoice in the fact that he suffered physical thirst on the cross – and so much more – so that my thirst for the water of life might be quenched.This Fifth Word from the Cross serves to tell us that there is suffering in the Cross.
Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." These three words were packed with meaning, for what was finished here was not only Christ's earthly life, not only his suffering and dying, not only the payment for sin and the redemption of the world—but the very reason and purpose he came to earth was finished. His final act of obedience was complete. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.
For six hours Jesus had been hanging on the Cross, and now we get a last look at His suffering face. His whole body is drooping and shivering with the last chill. His breath is growing feebler and feebler – until He gives one long, deep, last sigh – “Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus entered death in the same way he lived each day of his life, offering up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placing himself in God's hands.Jesus was always submitting Himself to God, and when He died, He died just as He had lived. Jesus commits his eternal souls to the Father, which meant submitting and humbling Himself unto death, even death on a cross. Jesus saw His physical life on earth as a clear mission directed from Heaven. He used His life on earth and did not allow Himself to be used or manipulated by anything, including the fleshly temptations He faced. This is why in His death He entrusted Himself to the Father. We too are told to “Commit our way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” like Stephen in Acts 7 cry with his last breath, “Lord Jesus receives my spirit.”On the cross Jesus demonstrated loving discernment of human ignorance, selfless concern for a fellow sufferer, filial care, intimate relationship with God, acute deprivation, disciplined obedience to the will of God, and the unquestioning dedication of oneself to God.
The followers of Jesus believe that He rose from the dead on the third day. Instead of debating this it would be well to consider the magnificent role model on the cross who reaches out to every man and woman on this planet and teaches that the only way to peace despite our sufferings is virile obedience to the will of God.
The First Word from the Cross begins with Jesus addressing His Father - "Father forgive" and now it begins the last. God, the Father, had accepted the sin offering made by Jesus, as would soon be demonstrated by his resurrection from the dead. Jesus had come from his Father and to his Father he would return, but first he had to die physically. These words tell us that his life didn’t just ebb away - in fact Jesus had previously said that no one could take his life "but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18). And so it was that Jesus consciously gave his life. He laid it upon the altar, just as the burnt offering of the Old Testament which had spokenThis last Word from the Cross is in fact a quotation from Psalm 31 (v.5). It was composed by David when, in some great trouble, he put his trust in his God. Jesus could identify himself with David’s affliction and anguish of soul, having been treated with utter contempt by his enemies and deserted by his friends. Like David he could still say "but I trust in you, 0 Lord, I say ’You are my God’, my times are in your hands" (14, 15). "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." This speaks of his confidence in God, his Father. He found security in his Father’s hands and in so doing pointed the way to all who die believing. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, left this life with the same security. "Lord Jesus" he said, "receives my spirit." They have been used by countless believers in Christ ever since. This is the security that comes from knowing "him whom we have believed and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him." Yes, there is eternal security in the Cross.The death of Jesus calls out to us to choose life in the light of eternity. A life of compassion not resentment, a word of acceptance not rejection, a heart of forgiveness not revenge, a life to share not hoard.. Jesus' death springs open that door in our hearts where God has written God's Law - the Law that calls us to choose life over death, and love over evil. The way to conquer evil is through good. Similarly, violence can be overcome only by non-violence and hatred by love. Good Friday gives us the assurance that Jesus has defeated the power of Evil and death. Hence we can demonstrate the divine love for the unlovely, peace, joy and happiness that is deep and lasting, kind word in response to insult, gentleness when our world is harsh. May God’s divine love, gives us His marvelous grace to overcome the narrowness, the intolerance, and the selfishness which dominates the world.
The single most valuable Prayer you can pray from the depth of your heart to God is: Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner I believe that Lord Jesus Died for my Sins, Thank you for taking all of my sin upon yourself on the cross. I want to receive your forgiveness and enter into a relationship with you. I ask you to come into my life as my Savior and Lord, to be my God from this day forward, and to make me into the person you've intended me to be. The author is the Bishop of Believers Church, Patna Diocese.