“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“Woman, behold, your son!” “Behold, your mother!”
Read the final words of Jesus. Think about all He had suffered, just before He spoke them. In the garden, sweating blood as He anticipated the agony of what lay ahead. The betrayal of His closest friends. Merciless beatings, severe enough in and of themselves, to have caused His death. Scorn from those, who just days earlier, had honored and praised Him as their king. The humiliation of being mocked, spit upon, and stripped naked. And finally, the torture of being nailed to a cross.
Read Jesus’ words again. Do you see it? At His height of suffering, Jesus prays for the ones who drove the nails into His feet and hands. In the midst of His agony, He offers eternal assurance to a repentant man. He ignores His horrific pain, to insure His Mother will be cared for.
It is only after He has seen to the needs of others that He turns His attention to His own suffering.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Even then, as Christ desperately cries out to His Father, I can’t help but wonder if He wasn’t thinking about us. Are there any of us who have not, at some time in our lives, called out to God “why have you abandoned me”? Haven’t all of us been through a dry season and longed for a cool stream to refresh our parched spirits.
Jesus’ pleas were heard. His prayers were. And so are ours as He declares, once and for all…
“It is finished”
Nothing more to be done. Nothing else required. The requirements fulfilled.
Final words, final assurance.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
To anyone who has ever stood by the bed of a loved one as they took their final breath, these are words of comfort. They promise us that He who knit us in our Mother’s womb is there, waiting to receive our spirit. These words confirm that Jesus has defeated death. We can have confidence that His spirit, having returned to the Father, will live eternally and so will ours. In this final statement, we have God’s ultimate promise and our ultimate hope.
At no other time in recorded scripture do we see Jesus’ humanity so evidently revealed. In the final hours at Calvary, we see Jesus, fully God, fully man. The One who knew no sin, became the embodiment of sin. Of all the horror of the cross, I believe this is the greatest.
Seven statements from the cross. Parting thoughts. Thoughts of you and me.
In Jesus’ last words, we have the entire gospel message. The message of forgiveness, eternal life, love for one another, His righteousness imparted to us. It is a message important enough for Jesus to die for; shouldn’t it be important enough for us to live for? Knowing He did all this for us, how can we do less for Him?
Father, never let us forget what the Easter season is really about. Keep us mindful of the horrors of the cross and the sufferings we have been spared because Jesus suffered for us. Always remind us that even in His final hours, we were never far from Jesus’ thoughts. Above all, place deep within our minds the truth of the victory that was won for us that day at Calvary; and deep within our hearts a desire to share the message with those who remain lost. Amen.
Christ died so we can live. His sacrifice at Calvary is for everyone who will come and follow Him. Have you made that commitment? Have you knelt at the foot of the cross and surrendered your heart to the One Who died for your sins? If you haven’t, there will never be a better time than now.
All you need to do is pray:
Confess to Jesus that you are a sinner who needs salvation
Believe in your heart that He is only One who can save you
Ask Jesus to forgive your sins
Surrender your life and your will to Him
Ask Him give you a new heart, and a new spirit