1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Recently, I have been reflecting on the incredible price Christ paid for our salvation. His death on the cross is His demonstration of His love for us. The physical suffering from the beating and the crucifixion were horrendous in their own right, but Christ suffered also an incredible agony from the spiritual implications of Calvary. We can learn about and see His love and His suffering in His words that He spoke from the cross. These are eternal words that can change everything about our lives.
His first statement is recorded in Luke 23:43, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The immediate focus of His prayer was the Roman soldiers who were actually performing the crucifixion. But after reflection, we can see the far reaching effects of this prayer. The prayer reached through the authority of the Roman army all the way to Pilate. This prayer also reached out to the Jewish leaders who demanded His death. Finally, His prayer reached out to you and to me today. Actually, it was not the soldiers, or Pilate, or even the Jewish priests who were responsible for His death. I am responsible. Christ died to save sinners. It was my sins and your sins that nailed Him to the cross. Christ’s prayer, “Father, forgive them” has been answered thousands, actually millions of times as sinners call upon the name of Jesus and experience salvation through the death of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, Jesus answered the request of the thief on the cross. This man had lived a sinful life and was being executed for his crimes. He was judged and found guilty by the Roman courts and was headed toward eternal judgment. By God’s grace and providential plan the thief found Himself dying next to the Saviour. He cried out in desperation, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Jesus responded, “Today, shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
What an incredible word. Salvation based not on this man’s deeds or accomplishments in life. This salvation came only by His faith in the dying Saviour by grace through faith. After all, this is the only way a man can be saved. We must come to Christ hopeless, and helpless trusting only in His ability to save us.
Third, Jesus addressed His mother, Mary and his disciple John.
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, Behold your son,” and to the disciple, “Behold your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26, 27
We hear the tenderness and love that Jesus had for His mother, He cared for her even in His last last dying moments. In these words, we see something about family and love that we are looking for. Christ has provided for us a family that is closer than even flesh and blood. He has joined us together by our common testimony. When we are born again, the spirit of sonship enters into our hearts. God becomes our Father and every member of the body becomes our brother and sister. We enter into a spiritual family that comes from this new nature that we have received. Not only are we joined together with Christians from all over the world and from every generation; we are also joined together by the Lord to a local church. We are placed there by the Lord. He actually gives us a spiritual family on earth. In these relationships, we begin to discover the commandment, “love one another”. This love, His love is the substance that holds us together and makes us one.
At about noon on the day Jesus was executed, the whole earth became dark. The sun and creation itself were affected by the treatment Jesus was receiving in Jerusalem. The sun refused to shine as Christ became an offering for our sin. We hear the cry of Jesus, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ was now experiencing the worst of His sufferings. He was taking upon Himself the punishment for the sin of mankind. As Isaiah said, “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. What an amazing miracle. Christ became sin that I might become the righteous of God.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Cor. 5:21
This is how we can now approach God. God’s anger toward sin was satisfied, judgment had been accomplished and mercy was now offered to all mankind.
Fifthly, Jesus cried out, “I thirst”, John 19:28. Thirst, incredible thirst, results from the blood loss during crucifixion. Jesus experiences an incredible natural thirst. He also was experiencing another kind of thirst. He was thirsting for souls, after all that is why he came. He was thirsty for Peter to be converted and Paul to experience His love and He was thirsty for you and thirsty for me. We are why he came, and He longed for the fulfillment of His work. He also had had another incredible thirst. He was thirsty for His return to that place of intimacy that He had enjoyed with His Father from eternity. He longed for His Father and He was crying out desperately for satisfaction.
It seems as if Jesus was strengthened as He faced His death. He cried out His victory shout, “It is Finished”, John 19:30.
The plans of God from eternity were complete. The prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled. Redemption for man had been accomplished. It is finished. Because of that we can enter into a rest that comes from the work of Christ on the cross. All our debts are settled, our sins have been paid for righteousness has been fulfilled, we are at peace with God. It is finished.
Finally, Jesus prayed His last prayer.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46
Jesus yielded up His spirit to the Father. His work had been done, He could now return home. He could return to the right hand of the father as His beloved Son. The Son of God was now also the Son of man. Not only did the second person of the trinity take His rightful place at the Father’s right hand. Also my representative, Jesus my heavenly high priest took His place in heaven. Today, He represents man to the Father. The resurrected Son of God and yes, Son of Man is ruling all things by the Word of His power.
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ again this year, let the words of Christ from the cross effect your heart and change your life. After all we have a faithful High Priest who saves to the uttermost praying for us in heaven.