Jesus was no more himself than when He hung on the cross as the Savior of the world. The seven last sayings of Christ revealed seven ‘stained-glass vignettes‘ of the God-man — on display forever in the annals of Christianity. Our view of Jesus would be incomplete had we not seen these very-different portraits of Messiah.
Forgiving Any Sin
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The sins of Judas, of Herod, of Pilate, of the Centurions, of Caiaphas and the Jews screaming ‘Crucify him!’ He didn’t miss a single sin – after all, He’s God. Yet he was willing, yeah eager, to forgive them. And not them only – but all sinners, from every sin. I love it that Jesus went straight to the Father. He didn’t call on the Judge, the Creator, the Almighty… no, just “Dad.” As He hung in my place, living as my substitute, He felt no authority to forgive; so for the first time, He pleaded to a higher power for the setting free of my sins.
What an odd thing for one who was being crucified to ask another in the same predicament for salvation – yet it happened. And in the moments of extreme agony, what was Christ’s desire? To reach out in love and make one more person ready for Heaven. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” How amazing his love! What an example: in the midst of the worst death a person can experience, at the most pivotal moment in human history, Jesus is doing what He did best… loving the unloved and saving a sinner.
Forming a New Family
Most of his family and disciples hadn’t stuck around – but there were a few faithful. A few that cared about Jesus deeply. Just before His death, Christ wanted to make sure that, in His absence, these whom he loved wouldn’t be alone. “Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother!” It’s possible to be in a crowd, and yet very alone; so Jesus purposely made connections between his mother, Mary and the beloved disciple, John. He created a new relationship with Himself as the connector (common ground) – and that’s exactly what He’s been doing ever since. After spending his entire life making spiritual connections, Jesus’ last words reflect even more of what he was doing – building his eternal family.
He had known it was coming – the moment He had dreaded – the three agonizing hours of enduring sin. “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” It was Immanuel’s orphan cry. This was indeed the cup of suffering he was praying against in the garden, yet while the sun turned dark, he would drink of its bitterness. He had never known its guilty unrest, He had never been affected by its poison – until now, for now He would taste of sin – all of sin (1 Cor. 5:21). He drank in the sins of… adultery, blasphemy, covetousness, drunkenness, extortion, fornication, greed, hatred, idolatry, jealousy, kidnapping, lying, murder, nakedness, oppression, pride, quarreling, rape, sodomy, terrorism, unforgiveness, violence, witchcraft, xxx, yielding to temptation, and zealouslessness.
Thirsty for More
This word was prophesied by David over 1,000 years before. “I thirst” called out the God-man. As God, He knew what had been accomplished so far and what still remained to be accomplished – He was in total control. Yet as man, he displayed tremendous vulnerability and weakness. The Creator of the oceans, the One who made millions of gallons of water gush from a dusty rock, the Water of Life is now thirsty. The need-meeter now has a need. For what does He ask? The vinegar, the gall – no! But for His glory to be revealed, for relationships to be restored, for families to be reunited, for the curse to be reversed, for churches to be revived, for the weary to receive rest, for a remnant to rise up, for the righteous to rule – for you and I to respond to His words with a thirst-quenching love.
Finishing our Faith
The climax of the cross: He screamed “It is finished.” He had made an end of the law. Men were no more locked out of God’s presence by the list of do’s and don’ts. The veil of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. Our sin debt was paid in full. He paid a debt He did not owe while I owed a debt I could not pay. He picked up my tab! The atonement was accomplished. Although there is still sin in me, there is no longer any sin on me. The penalty of my sins has been ‘returned to sender.’ He had finished everything that his Father had given him to do.
Triumphant in Death
We get the feeling with Jesus’ last prayer that He knew the resurrection was coming. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” With total confidence through faith, Christ gave up the ghost. He didn’t have his life stolen from him – He gave it away. Since death is a result of sin and Jesus had never known sin, He had to force himself to die. Such power, such control! What had started with a prayer to his Father, now ended the same way. How blessed that His Father is our Father! We have a place to belong, part of something great – no longer isolated and orphaned, even through death. He had no reason to fear – for Jesus knew the hands that would hold his spirit… Do you?