A Dying Man's Last Words

Scripture: Luke 23:34, John 19:26-27, Luke 23:43
Date: 04/14/2001 
The seven last statements made by Jesus when dying on the cross and their practical application to our lives today.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 12 that in the Judgement we’ll give an account for every idol word we speak. “By your words you’ll be justified. By your words you’ll be condemned.” And some of us are more verbose than others. I’m one of those people. Last night we were out in the front yard. Kids were outside. It was a little pleasant and we were visiting with Grandma. She was asking how it was that Nathan had become so talkative. And we said what did you expect? Look at his parents. He’s going through that stage now where he’s learning new words and then he wears them out. And he wears out everybody else with those new words. And we do a lot of talking in our lives.

I think somebody estimated that the average person in one week speaks enough words to fill a book with over 500 pages. And some people would have more books at the end of the week than others. I have a virtual encyclopedia at the end of my week. Karen isn’t far behind. So we do a lot of talking in our lives. Now some words we talk just to hear ourselves. Problem is when we do that kind of talking folks get to place where they don’t listen to us because it’s sort of like living by the railroad track. It’s just a lot of words all the time. I had a friend who was a person of unusually few words and whenever they spoke people typically stopped even if they were already talking and they’d listen, they’d tune in, because this person spoke so little they always were hoping that he was about to say something profound. Sometimes it was. But it seems like that in a special sense at the end of a person’s life the final words they speak often seem to be in a category by themselves and they get a little extra respect.

I went through history and some different resources to look at some of the last words of different people. Some of them became very famous. Some examples would be, of course, Napoleon’s sister, Alicia. When she was dying someone in the room observed “nothing was as certain as death.” And they didn’t know that she was still alive and she heard that and she responded, “Except taxes.” And you might be wondering where that phrase came from making her statement probably the most widely quoted in history. “Nothing is as sure as death and taxes.” Well, that’s where that came from. Some people their final words are sort of a disappointment and you wonder what in the world they were thinking. W. C. Fields, for instance, on his deathbed said, “On the whole I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” Then he died.

Phineous T. Barnum, P T Barnum of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, he lived to eighty-two. Very interesting man, but his last words before he died he was questioning the receipts from the big program at Madison Square Garden that night. They reported and then he died. Wanted to know how the gate receipts were doing. A philosopher William Hegel said, “Only one man understood me and he didn’t understand me.” And then he died. Lord Palmerson, his final words, “Die? My dear doctor, that’s the last thing I shall do!” Which is true. It is the last thing that everybody does. Oscar Wilde’s last words were, “I am dying as I lived. Beyond my means.” He died a lost man, we believe.

Rudolph Valentino said, “Don’t pull down the blinds!” And similar O Henry the author said, “Turn up the lights. I don’t want to go home in the dark.” The poet Heinrick Hein wrote, “God will forgive me. It’s His profession.” And those were his final words. I heard about one attorney who he was trying to settle the will for this lady whose husband had died. He had not left a will and so he pressed, this is a true story, he said, “Well, what were his final words?” And she became very disturbed and she said, “I don’t want to tell you.” And he said, “Well, it may help.” She said, “No, it was personal.” And he pressed her and he said, “Look! I’m your attorney. You can trust me.” And she said, “No. No.” He said, “Look, you need to tell me if I’m going to get anywhere with you. The final words are very important because he had nothing in writing.” He said, “Trust me.” She said, “Ok. Ok. My husband said, ‘Woman, what are you doing? You think you could hit me with that old gun? You couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn!” And she told the attorney that! It’s a true story! And of course she was prosecuted for his death. His final words.

Now Christians have made some more profound statements. Zwingly one of the great reformers, a contemporary of Luther, his final words before he died was, “They can kill the body but not the soul.” Wouldn’t you like to come to your end with that kind of faith? William Kerry that great missionary to India, he said, “When I am gone speak less of Dr. Keori and more of Dr. Keori’s savior. Susana Wesley, one of the most incredible women in modern times who raised a whole litter of profound Christian intellectuals, she said when she was dying, “Children, when I am gone sing a song of praise to God.” And they did just that. So it’s interesting sometimes to consider these famous words. Alexander the Great when he died his final words, his wife Roxanna was at his bedside and his son was very young and she said, “Who is going to rule in your place?” And supposedly his final words were, “The strongest.” And then he died. Somebody said Noah Webster who wrote the Webster’s Dictionary that his final words were, “Ziem, ziemosis, and zimerging.” That’s not true, but I thought that was cute.

Now when you look in the Bible some of the great patriarchs they always took special note to when they saw the time was coming say something almost prophetic, very significant before they died. Joshua when he saw he was getting old he gathered all of Israel together and he gave them that final charge to remind them of God’s leading. He gave them the same charge that Moses had given him saying, “Be courageous!” And of course he concluded by saying, “Choose who you will serve but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” That’s Joshua 24:15. II Samuel, King David before he died he wrote a final Psalm and you can find that all written there II Samuel 23:1, “Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David, the son of Jesse thus says the man raised up on high the anointed of God of jacob and the sweet psalmist of Israel…” And with this introduction are his last, probably his last written words. Peter before he knew he was going to die he said in his second letter chapter one verse thirteen, “Yea, I think it is needful it’s meet as long as I’m in this tabernacle (this body) to stir you up by putting you in remembrance knowing that shortly I must put off my tabernacle even as the Lord Jesus has shown me.” He knew he was dying and he wrote a letter with a final charge to the church to stir them up and remind them of God’s leading. Paul did something similar. When you read II Timothy you’re reading the last words of a man on death row. And that’s why he says… that’s very encouraging… “For I am ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give me on that day and not to me only but to all them that love His appearing.” I hope that you long for and love the Blessed Hope the soon appearance of Jesus. Now I’ve sort of set the stage for considering the final words of Jesus on the cross. When I first discovered that there are seven statements I thought that was very significant. God does things in cycles of seven. But when you line up the four gospels it seems that Jesus declared seven, no more no less, statements of final utterance before he died. And because this is the Lord and everything He said was inspired those final words of a dying man are of great significance. So we’re going to consider the final words of Christ. We’re going to look at them historically, why he said what he said. Some of the spiritual significance and we’re going to look at them in the context of what is he saying to us? Is it a message to each one of us individually? The Bible tells us we are “crucified with Christ” and so these are words that should be our words also.

Now quickly let me tell you what they are and then we'll go back one by one and you might take a pencil out and write some of the notes for the scriptures down. They’ll not be on the screen today. I don’t want to spoil you so you don’t use your Bibles. First one is Luke 23:34 where Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” The second statement of Christ is John 19:26 & 27 and there it declares, “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved” (the apostle John) “standing by He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ And He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’” That was probably the second statement. The third one is Luke 23:43 where Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise.” He declared to the thief. The fourth of the last words of Jesus is where He said, “Eli, Eli. Lama Sabbatani?” One version renders it, “Eloai, Eloai. Lama Sabbatanni?” Meaning, Jesus didn’t say two things. He simply said, “My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?” They give us the original language there because they misunderstood what He said. They thought He was calling for Elijah. The fifth statement of Jesus is John 19:28 and He simply said, “I thirst.” The sixth statement is John 19:30 when He declared, “It is finished!” And then the final words Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commit or commend my spirit.” Now the arrangement of this list of seven final utterances of Jeusu on the cross it may be impossible to definitely prove the exact order and I’m not here to argue that. I look at some other people have the list slightly different. I’ve used this list according to the Bible and I went through the book Desire of Ages and tried to line it up in accordance with that inspired commentary. So that’s not what I’m debating but I do think there is some sequence here that we can be sure of, His first words and His last words. But these are the final words of Jesus on the cross.

Now let’s go back to the first statement of Christ, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” Now many people have mistakenly believed that Jesus was only offering a prayer of forgiveness for the Romans that were actually driving the nails in his hands and feet because they were ignorant. They did not know. I respectfully disagree. I think He was offering forgiveness for everybody. Many of them who may have known He was sent of God but still didn’t really know who He was because it’s possible for people to not know Christ and still know who He is but not know Him. Some proof for this is in Acts 3:17 when Peter is preaching to the religious leaders. He’s talking to the Jews. Listen to what he says. “Now,” speaking of the crucifying Jesus. “Now yet brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance as did also your rulers.” The rulers who crucified Christ did it “in ignorance” Peter says. So when Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” They don’t know. They’re ignorant. What they do… It wasn’t just for the Roman slaves that were nailing Him. That’s a prayer He uttered for everybody. Now why is that important for you and me? Incidentally, when Stephen was stoned and he prayed, “Father, forgive them. Lay not this sin to their charge.” The people stoning him knew very much what they were doing and he still prayed for forgiveness. Should we only forgive those who don’t know that they’ve hurt us? Or when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they do.” Maybe He was also saying, “Lord, they don’t know what I’m really going through. They don’t know that I’m suffering under the weight of the sins of the world. And many people who perhaps wounded and offended and hurt you don’t know the depths of what they’ve done. The Lord is not asking, indeed commanding us to only forgive those who did harm to us in ignorance. He’s asking us, I believe, to forgive everybody.

The Bible tells us, and these are the words of Christ, “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who spitefully use you.” Just the ones who don’t know or everybody who spitefully uses us, mistreats us, abuses us? “That you might be the children of your Father in Heaven.” Matthew chapter 6:14, “For if you forgive,” and of course this is a commentary on the Lord’s prayer, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” And again, when Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful debtor, Matthew 18, He closes by saying this, “So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” The Lord is commanding us to forgive. Christ exemplified forgiveness at the cross. Jesus came for many reasons but not least of those is that He came to forgive us of our sins and to empower us to forgive others. The love relationship that Christ tells us is mandatory for salvation is this love relationship. We need to learn about God’s love for us and this love relationship, “Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor.” And what is the best way that Jesus demonstrated His love for us? He took our sins and forgave us. What is the best way that we demonstrate love for our neighbor? To forgive our neighbors even those who are crucifying us if you will. Did Jesus give us an example of that?

So Christ when He said, “Father, forgive them.” He wasn’t just praying for the Roman soldiers. He wasn’t just praying for the religious leaders. I believe He was praying for every human, every son of Adam. Amen? He’s praying for the human race. “Father, forgive them.” You know another reason He could say, “For they don’t know what they do”? We, unlike Lucifer and the fallen angels, we humans, we’re born with this sinful condition. With the exception of Adam and Eve we came into a world slaves to sin, like the Children of Israel they were born into slavery. We don’t fully understand who God is. We were born in ignorance. We have to learn who He is. And Jesus speaks to us from the cross today and He says, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know who You are. They don’t know how they hurt You when they sin. They don’t know what they do.” Now when Jesus said, “Father forgive” those who crucified Him whether it was religious leaders or the ones that held the nails and hammer He was still talking to me and you, wasn’t He? You and I are the ones who are responsible. He died for our sins so we directly or indirectly are responsible for Jesus making that declaration. Colossians 3:13, one more verse then I’ll move on, “Bearing with one another forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another even as Christ forgave you so you also must do.” How does God want us to forgive each other? As Jesus forgave us. Is that easy? How many know that it isn’t easy? But how many believe that this is what Jesus wants us to do? And Christ will give us the power and I’m not just talking to you. I mean, I’ve got struggles and I’ve felt before like I’ve been misunderstood and mistreated and you want to… Boy, the Batchelor family, we’ve got a black belt in retaliation and you need to pray that I don’t cling to that hereditary tendency to get even. But you know the Lord wants us to forgive and to look upon those people as others that are infinitely valuable to Jesus. Jesus shed His blood for those people who wounded you. For those who you may feel are crucifying you.

The second statement of Jesus from the cross, John 19:21. If you didn’t get it the first time, I’m repeating the scriptures. “When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” There’s a great deal of significance in this phrase. Some people think that Jesus was simply setting His house in order. It ought to be significant to you that Christ is committing the care of His mother Mary not to one of His brothers but to the apostle John even though His brothers became believers. I think this is further evidence for the fact that Joseph may have had these other children before he married Mary. Christ may have been Jesus (Mary’s) only child. I believe He was and that’s why His mother did not have an heir in the family. The older brothers of Christ were Joseph’s sons. Jesus was the youngest as was Moses as was David and Joseph the types of Christ in the Bible. The very fact that He committed the care of His mother to John “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Now, when you consider something here. How would you feel if you were on the cross and your mother is watching? Just think about the infinite suffering that you would feel for yourself. You know I am so selfish. I’m ashamed. Sometimes if I’ve got any kind of little ache or pain I go around whining. I want everyone to know about it. Look at my “owie”. But here Jesus is on the cross and He becomes concerned with the suffering of others. He becomes concerned with His mother’s welfare. He is thinking about her anguish as she looks at Him and she has no earthly support because the inheritance of Joseph goes to the boys. And so He fulfills this domestic duty of committing the care of His mother to John and he took her into his home. He acknowledged that. But there is a spiritual truth that goes beyond this.

What is a woman a symbol of Biblically? A church. And there at the cross, in a special sense, He was, remember? “The seed of the woman” is Christ. He was bruising the serpent’s head and when He says, “Woman, behold your Son.” It’s a command to us to behold Jesus on the cross. Now do we have council that there is special power in not only looking at Christ as our example in all things, but in a special sense the scenes at the cross. When you behold Christ on the cross there I think is best reflected His love for us. There is where we best see His victory over sin. And so He says, “Woman, behold your Son.” There’s some scriptures that bear this out. Jesus said in John 12:32, “And if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people unto Myself.” When was Christ lifted up? It was at the cross. Why is He lifted up? A position of visibility. That’s why Moses stood on the hill when the Children of Israel were fighting the Amalicites and he stretched out his hands in intercession. And as long as the people could see him up there in that position of visibility interceding they won the battle. They had to look up. Moses was up there. Moses got tired and his hands started to drop. They started losing the battle. When he lifted up his hands again. Aaron and Hur held up his hands. When he lifted up his hands again then they were victorious again. What do you think the significance of that story is? That as long as we can see Christ lifted up, there He is taking our place on the cross interceding in our behalf we have power there. How can I forgive other people? Where does that power come from? When I look at Jesus dying on the cross for all of my sins it becomes a little easier to forgive someone else their annoyances.

Compared to what Jesus suffered for me on the cross when He’s lifted up, it’s a little easier for me to look the other way when other people might talk about me or spitefully use me or persecute me. And so the power is in the cross when Christ is lifted up. “Woman, behold your son” lifted up. Hebrews 12:1 & 2, “Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us and let us run with endurance the race. Fight the fight that is before us looking unto Jesus beholding the son on the cross. The author and finisher of our faith.” How can we lay aside the weight and the sin? How can we run that race? We keep Christ, “Woman, behold your Son” on the cross before us. Can you say “Amen?” Amen. John the Baptist invited those who were there at the Jordan to simply behold. “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” So Jesus declaration “Woman, behold your son” is a statement for you and me. But He goes on. He says then, “Behold your mother.” I expect Christ nodded to John and looked at His mother and said, “Behold your mother.” Adopt her and love her as your own mother. Now what does that mean?

Not only is the church the bride of Christ, the church is, in a sense, the mother of the family in the church. We are children of that mother. And I think that God is also inviting us not only to look to Christ but to recognize the authority of the church in a mother’s capacity. The supreme authority is the Father but there is a lot of animosity and scorn towards the church. People are so down on organized religion these days, and it’s true that in some cases there’s been cause for that, but I think that we have lost the Biblical concept of respecting the degree of authority that God has invested in the church, as long as they’re consistent in the Word, and we should respect that. Amen? And so He’s saying, “Behold your mother” there at the cross. Christ is now leaving but He says I’m sending you the Comforter. The church is left behind. The church… Jesus is still in the world through the church. And so He says, “Behold your mother.”

Now let’s go to statement number three of Jesus on the cross. Remember He was crucified between two thieves. And… Oh, I better not tell you that story. That won’t be popular. There’s an interesting story about that. Ask me privately and I’ll tell you later. I’ll evaluate who you are, whether or not I tell you. So Jesus died. The Bible says that He was numbered with the transgressors. It does tell us that He died on a hill there between these two thieves. Those two thieves represent all classes of people and I could easily take a little detour right now and preach about the thief on the cross. You think about it. One on the right and one on the left. Both helpless to save themselves as we are helpless to save ourselves. They’re both guilty. The Bible tells us that they are murderers, robbers, and rebels. All of us are that way. The Bible says if you’re angry with your brother without a cause you’re guilty of murder. If we’re not paying our tithes and offerings God says we’re thieves. And we are rebels. The Bible says that we’ve rebelled. We’ve each one gone our own way.

So those two lost individuals represent the two classes of lost people. They both asked to be saved. Problem was the thief on the left said, “If you are the Son of God save yourself and us.” Will anyone be saved by if? Jesus said, “If you believe all things are possible.” Now the devil came to the Lord and said, “If you’re the Son of God turn these stones into bread.” “If” is a very dangerous word. It can separate the saved from the lost. “The just shall live by faith.” The other thief when he heard his partner reviling Christ he said, “Do you not fear God seeing we’re under the same condemnation? We’re getting what we deserve!” You know what that’s called? Repentance and confession. Public repentance and confession. The whole mob is watching. He said, “We are getting what we deserve.” Very few criminals admit they’re guilty.

I remember hearing a story one time where Czar Nicholas went to visit a prison in Moscow and all these prisoners swarmed up to the bars. They were all in this one joint area. And they all began to say, “Czar! Your Highness! We’re innocent!” “I’ve been wrongly accused!” And they’re all pleading their case trying to get some intercession so he’ll reprieve them. And he saw them all clambering for an audience to be forgiven and he noticed one man was sort of indifferently sitting off by himself and he nudged the guard and he said, “Who is that man?” He says, “He’s a thief.” He said, “Bring him here.” And he brought him over and he said, “Are you here because you’ve done anything wrong?” He said, “Yeah, I’m a thief. I deserve it.” And Nicholas said to the guard, he said, “Take this man out of here. I don’t want him contaminating all these innocent people behind bars.” And he set the thief free because at least he acknowledged he was a thief. You know, and that’s one of the things we’ve got to do. We’re always very good at justifying ourselves and sometimes it gets hard to acknowledge, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” One reason Jesus could call Peter is because Peter said, “Lord, depart from me. I am a sinful man.”

He knew who he was. The thief says, “We are getting what we deserve.” But then he goes on. He says, “But this man has done nothing amiss. He is innocent.” The only man that never did anything wrong. And then he turned to Christ and he asked. He went through all the steps of salvation. He said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And that’s really something because the only testimony that Jesus was a king, other than the sign above his head that came from Pilate, came from the thief. His own disciples, His own followers and apostles did not proclaim who He was there at the cross, but the thief said He was a Lord and He was a King. And I think the whole throng grew quiet when they heard this exchange. And Jesus turned to him, ignoring His own intense suffering. Whenever Christ heard a plea for help He always responded. And He said, “Verily I say to you today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

Now some translations, like the King James, say “Verily I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise.” And that obviously is punctuation wrongly placed. You realize there is no punctuation in the Greek. They, translators, had to figure “Where do we want to put that comma?” And they put the comma in the wrong place so it sounds like Jesus went to paradise that day with the thief. You go to the Gospel of John chapter 21. Mary is clinging to Jesus ankles. He says, “Do not cling to Me because I have not yet ascended to My Father” so how could the thief be with Jesus in Paradise if Jesus hadn’t gone yet? Not that day. But Jesus was promising him that day. “I’m telling you today, even though I don’t look like a Lord and a King, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Always gives me chills when I think that even though the devil could nail Jesus to the cross he could not keep His hands from saving. Christ still was able to save there and that thief is going to be in the kingdom. You notice He never says anything else? Because I believe that a sweet assurance swept over him. He seized upon that word of Jesus, “You will be with Me.” And you know what Christ said? “Assuredly.” You know what that means? An assurance.

How much easier do you think it was for him to bear his sufferings after he had the assurance of life? Infinitely easier. Oh it’s an awful thing to be at the bedside of someone who is dying. Listen to their last words. Someone who is dying without hope and the terror that you sometimes see of people and they’re fraught with fear and anxiety because they don’t know. This thief I believe had an assurance. Because Christ said, “Assuredly, I say to you, you will,” not maybe. And he believed it. He did not believe it based on any good works that he had done. It was total, undiluted grace. Can you say amen? Two thieves, one on the right, one on the left. They represent all classes of people. They represent the sheep and the goats and everybody here, everybody watching you are one of those two thieves. We all want to be saved but there is something you must do. He repented. He believed. He asked and he received. And we need to step out in faith and take Jesus at His words. “Assuredly I say to you today, you will be with Me in paradise.” The word paradise there in Greek. It’s very much in Greek as it is in English. “Paradisos” and it’s like an Oriental park, an Eden, a place of future happiness. Only found three times in the Bible but it’s talking about a place of bliss. He was being invited to look beyond.

Fourth statement of Jesus. Matthew 27:46, “At about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice. And He said, ‘Eloai, Eloai (Or) Eli, Eli Lama Sabbatanni?’” Lama Sabbatani there’s different pronunciations for that. That’s how it came out in the Aramaic. The Romans who didn’t speak that fluently thought He was calling out for Elijah because all the Jews believed Elijah was coming and they mocked Him for this. But what was Jesus really saying? “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Now the Bible says, “About the ninth hour.” Jesus was crucified the third hour. Are you aware that not only did Jesus say seven things on the cross, seven statements, but Jesus was on the cross about seven hours? Six hours alive, then after He died one hour dead. You can do the math. It took about an hour for Joseph of Aramathea to get permission to take His body down. Seven hours on the cross. Six hours you might say working to save us from our sins. The seventh hour after He said, “It is finished” resting from His finished work. Isn’t that interesting? Even in His death Christ recognized the significance in the hours that He was on the cross of that cycle. So He says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did Jesus say that? You know it was a rhetorical question. Because some people wonder “Jesus lost faith? There He is He’s saying, ‘God, why have you left me?’ as though He didn’t know. He’d finally lost faith.” No, no, no, no. Christ was quoting from probably one of the most famous Messianic Psalms of David: Psalm 22. And before the Passover lamb was sacrificed the Rabbis would read a Passover Psalm and sometimes they would read one of these Psalms of David, one of these prophetic psalms.

The first verse in this Psalm is “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ as the High Priest and as the sacrifice He is now saying “this is the lamb. This is the Passover” and He is reading a Passover psalm. The significance of the psalm is the kind of question that the Lord asks where He wants us to think. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” When God said to Adam, “Adam, where are you?” Is it because God lost track of Adam? Or was He wanting Adam to think about where sin had brought him? Did God lose Adam? He needed a GPS to find him? Or does God know everything? He knew where Jonah was. Can you see that God sometimes asks questions not because He doesn’t know but He wants us to think about the significance of what the question is. So when Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He is inviting all those who behold Him on the cross to consider why He is there. Why was the Father separated from the Son? Because the Son was taking my sin, he was taking my place. He’s inviting us to look and understand and live. Jesus was forsaken of the Father for our benefit. The Bible says in Isaiah 53, “We esteemed Him smitten of God and afflicted.” He was forsaken of the Father for our sakes. So this is the seventh statement of Jesus on the cross. Isn’t it also interesting that Christ in this hour of trial He begins His ministry by quoting scripture says to the devil “It is written. It is written… It is written…” He closes His ministry of saving man by quoting scripture? Ten percent of everything Jesus said, someone counted it out one day I think it might have been Dwight Moody, ten percent of everything Jesus said was quoting the Old Testament. I think that we should commit more scripture to memory. Amen?

Number five. Fifth statement of Jesus John 19:28, “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled He said, ‘I thirst.’” Now of course there’s the obvious. Jesus is dehydrated from bleeding. He had been whipped with a cat of nine tails possibly twice and as many as 39 times at each beating not to mention being pounded by the soldiers in the face and poked and prodded and the thorns on His head. All these things of course cause you to bleed, which aggravates dehydration. There’s no record that from the night before there at the paschal meal He said, “I’ll not drink it again until I drink it with you in the Father’s kingdom.” He hadn’t had anything to drink that we know of. He was parched. His tongue was swollen and He was very thirsty. You know Christ said one time in the great judgement He’ll separate the sheep from the goats and He’ll say to the saved “enter into the joy of the Lord because I was hungry and you fed Me. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.” And Christ as He describes the condition of the suffering world He was also describing His condition on the cross. He was hungry and He was thirsty and He was a stranger and He was in prison and He was sick and He was alone. All those things were on the cross. And He said, “I thirst.” And instead of giving Him a bottle of spring water to assuage His thirst they offer Him sour, bitter wine. Now I know you’ve heard me say it before but some maybe have missed it and it’s so important I want to repeat it. First miracle of Jesus He turned water into pure grape juice at a wedding and He gave it to mankind. His first miracle was to give grape juice. That’s what the Jews did in a proposal. He gives us His blood, His pure, sinless blood. The last thing that happens on the cross is we give Him sour wine and He tastes it.

He doesn’t drink it because He doesn’t use drugs but the very fact He tasted it the Bible says, “He tasted suffering for all men.” The first thing is He gives us grape juice. The last thing is we give Him sour wine. Christ made an exchange. A blood transfusion with a sick race, if you will. But not only did He give us His blood He took our sin. He made a complete transition. Now when He says, “I thirst” what is it that God thirsts for? When Jesus was at the well and He was thirsty He was depending upon a human to give Him something to drink. By her accepting the Messiah He was satisfied because later when the disciples came to feed Him He said, “I’ve got food that you don’t know about and drink you don’t know about.” His satisfaction came from doing the will of the Father. You can read in John 19:34. I’m sorry John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst but the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Why did Jesus say that He was thirsty? Because He provided living water for you and me and He went dry.

Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Remember Jesus is a type of us on the cross. He forgave we should forgive. When He says, “I thirst” He wants us to thirst. For what? Righteousness. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now don’t miss this. Not only did Jesus pour out His blood when He died for our sins He poured out His water. The Bible tells us in the same gospel chapter 19 verse 34, after He died one of the soldiers took a spear and pierced His pericardium and blood and water two distinct streams came forth. The Bible says “we need to be born of the water and born of the Spirit.” We’re born of the water through baptism that’s our choice. We’re born of the Spirit through the blood of Christ that was His choice of giving His blood that we might be washed. Can you understand why He was thirsty? He poured Himself out blood and water that we might be saved. He emptied Himself you might say that we might be filled.

The sixth statement of Jesus John 19:30, “So when Jesus had received (or tasted Matthew says) the sour wine He then declared, ‘It is finished.’” It is finished. Christ is not a quitter. He completed what He came to do. Luke 14:28-30, “For which of you intending to build a tower does not sit down first and count the cost whether he has enough to finish lest after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish all will see it and begin to mock him saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” The wonderful news is Christ’s mission was a total success. He did and accomplished everything He came to do. Why did He come? “God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.” Can we have everlasting life? Absolutely! Christ made it possible. You can also read Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus” as He’s up on the cross “the author and finisher of our faith.” I quoted that early but I wanted you to remember that phrase “The finisher.” Christ finished what He came to do. The Greek word for finish here is teleo which can also mean “paid in full”. Matter of fact, a number of receipts for ancient taxes found in the Paparai were found and it had this word teleo. It was a one word that Jesus uttered. Finished. “It is finished”.

Now that word also means the debt is cancelled. The debt is paid. Back in Bible times they didn’t have computers to register whether things were paid or not and when you had a debt that someone had recorded against your name after you paid the debt right there they would watch as you had that debt cancelled and they would write the word they didn’t just put a line through it because anyone could do that they would write the word teleo across your debt. When Christ declared “It is finished” not only did He complete His plan for saving us He paid the debt. Not just part of the debt. He didn’t make the down payment and now we’ve got to keep the payments up like buying a car that someone else had taken out a lease on you gotta keep making the lease payments. That’s not what Jesus did for us. He said it is cancelled, paid in full. Now is that good news?

When Jesus said “It is finished” furthermore when He said “It is finished” the devil interpreted that to mean “I am finished” because not only did the devil misinterpret Christ’s statement thinking that Jesus was finished Christ was saying the devil is finished. Christ when He died on the cross forever sealed his doom. The devil could not get Him to sin even though He had the same struggles with temptation that we have yet He lived a sinless life. And He said, “It is finished.” The plan of salvation is finished. The devil is finished. You know what else was going on? If you could pull aside the veil there were probably still angels that were sympathizing with Lucifer. They didn’t really understand how insidious his character was but at the cross Jesus pulled aside the veil and completely revealed the motives of Lucifer. The great controversy was completely fixed on one side or the other. He said it is clear. God’s name had been vindicated. “It is finished.” Our debt was paid. His work of saving us was complete.

The last statement of Jesus it says in Luke 23:46, “When Jesus cried out with a loud voice” incidentally if you read the other gospel it says, “He cried out” and then it says “He later cries out and says ‘into your hands’”. The thing He cried out the first time was “It is finished.” Then He cries out again and He says, “‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ Having said this He breathed His last.” Now you know that’s important because one of the characteristics you see of some of the great men in the Bible they did not die accidentally. They picked the time of their death. Their death was part of God’s will. Moses climbed a mountain and he died. He knew it was coming. The Bible tells us that “Jacob blessed his children with those last words he gathered up his feet in the bed and he let out his last breath.” Talk about being able to schedule your death. Samson had the benefit of saying, “let me die with the Philistines.” He scheduled his death. Jesus said, “No man takes my life.” You can’t kill God. Puny mortals shaking their fist at God. You can’t kill God. He laid His life down. We share the responsibility because we took the initiative but we could never do it without His allowing it willingly and finally Christ died, matter of fact Pilate was surprised that He had died so soon because crucifixion that could languish on for days and here after six hours He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” and He let out that last breath. His tone changed to blue. He died. He died willingly. Now we talked about last words. I want to talk about some first words. What were the first words of Christ’s public ministry? No. Not his public ministry.

The first words of Christ that are recorded? Luke 2:49 He said to His parents, “Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” Christ knew that His purpose, from the time He went to that first Passover, was to fulfill the will of the Father. That’s why He prayed in the garden, “Not my will. Thy will.” He came to be about His Father’s business. And then He closes His ministry by saying, “Father, into your hands.” His whole life was about doing the Father’s will. Now is that characteristic is that feature to be of Jesus alone or should that be something that we should strive for? Being about our Father’s business? Sometimes we think, “we come to church once a week and we do God’s will. We do religious things once a week.” That’s not God’s plan, friends. All through the week we should be about our Father’s business. Matter of fact Christ asks His own parents, “Why are you searching for me? You should have known that my primary job description is to be about the Father’s business.” First words of Jesus. Last words of Jesus, “Father I have finished my job. It is finished. Now into your hands I commend my spirit.” They also don’t miss the last words of Jesus are words that exemplify faith in the Father. Total faith. Did Jesus feel like He was saved? Do you think He felt saved? I don’t think it was easy for Him to see beyond the portals of the tomb because the awfulness of sin was so dark and so intense but yet even in that circumstance Jesus laid hold on the Father.

I was talking to somebody about this this very week. That sometimes you may not feel saved. Your faith needs to go beyond feeling based on the promise of God. Jesus, knowing what His mission was, knowing that this was part of it even though He felt like it would be impossible for Him to ever be purged of the iniquity of the people who ever lived that were now weighing that was weighing upon Him, He knew that according to the prophesies that He would rise again and He said, “Father I can only trust you.” And His last words were words of trust. You know Christ began with faith and He ended with faith and that’s I think a good example for me. He began with the will of God and He ended with the will of God. “Not everyone that says, ‘Lord, Lord’ but they that do the will of my Father in Heaven.” “Father into your hands I commend my will.”

Can you trust your life into the Father’s hands? If you’re not doing it now you should. You could. You can start. I saw a little poem by Victor Hugo that I thought was touching. Speaking about faith. He said, “Let us be like a bird, for a moment perched on a frail branch, when he sings. Though he feels it bend yet still he sings his song knowing he has wings.” Sometimes it feels like the little twig we’re perched upon is bouncing in the wind and yet the bird sings. Why? He can fly if he has to. We can go through life knowing that even as mortals it’s dangerous and there are storms but we’ve got a God who will bear us up in His hands. Amen? And so we can sing. We can trust Him. You know that’s a prayer that I think it would be smart for us to pray every morning, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Father, into your hands I commend my life.” The seven statements of Jesus on the cross were not just the words of a dying man that are of interest. They are words of encouragement for you and me. They’re promises for you and me. They’re words of challenge and admonition and council for you and me that we also can behold Christ on the cross. That we can know that the devil is finished at the cross. That we can know that we can hunger and thirst for righteousness and all these things that Jesus said are examples for you and me today.

The good news is that after He rose from the dead you know what His first words were? Now remember He said on the cross, “Woman, behold your son.” First words when He rise is, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Should the church be sad? Yes, He did die on the cross and He made those seven statements but now He says, “You have nothing to cry about.” He said to Mary, “Woman,” Church, you and me “why are you weeping? I’m alive.” And then He said, “Mary” and the word Mary means sadness and it’s almost a rhetorical question, Moroni, Bitter, “Bitter, why are you crying? I’m alive.” He had been resurrected. And so you and I know that we can have faith and we can have joy because of what Jesus did in our behalf. In a special sense during this holiday season when we’re considering the death, the burial and resurrection of our Lord and our Master I hope that you like the thief can know that He is your Lord and your king and that you have a place in paradise. That you can be happy and have joy because we don’t need to weep. He is not in the tomb any more. And best of all He has written “Teleo” “It is finished” “Paid in full” over our debt of sin if we lay hold of that provision. Is that your desire, friends? If so please reach for your hymnal. Turn to our closing hymn 184 “Jesus Paid It All”. I love this song, don’t you? And let’s stand. Let’s sing it together and make the rafters ring. 184.

I believe it’s important whenever we have a message that especially deals with a theme of Christ lifted up that we give people an opportunity to respond. There are some people who may only come Christmas and Easter to church and we want to invite you to be more consistent if you’re here today. There may be some who have been in the church for years and they still don’t have that peace. Whatever your situation might be. Some of you may have grown indifferent. You might be feeling that your experience with the Lord has become thin and a fresh look at the cross today has inspired you to want to rededicate and revive that commitment. If you would like to have that assurance that Jesus has paid it all for you. Whatever your situation might be, we want to give you an opportunity to respond as we sing the third verse in this beautiful hymn “Jesus Paid It All” and you’d like to take up His receipt that He’s paid on your behalf please come to the front. We’d like to pray for you in a special way that you might experience that joy and that peace. That assurance that you can be with Him in paradise. Come as we sing verse 3. We’ll pray with you.

We’re going to linger a moment longer and encourage you if you might be feeling the Holy Spirit tug at your heartstrings don’t hesitate to come. Some of you might recognize that this is a good time to re-consecrate your life to the Lord. Not only do we encourage you to make that decision now, but take advantage of the communion service that we’re going to participate in this evening. Come back at 6:00. Come for the concert at 4:30 and be inspired there as well. But today is a good opportunity, friends, to get a fresh beginning with your Savior. If He’s speaking to your heart maybe you have a special burden that you’d like to cast on Jesus today come now as we sing verse 4. “Jesus Paid It All

In a moment we’re going to pray together. Following our prayer I’d invite the general congregation to be seated as we’re exiting. I’d like to ask those who’ve come forward especially some of you who have chosen to renew your commitment to the Lord or maybe you’re giving Jesus your heart for the first time. Please speak to one of the pastors or elders we have up front. Some of you may have special needs or requests and we invite you to share those as well. Let’s pray together.

Father in Heaven, we want to thank you for the evidence of your love that is so beautifully reflected not only in the life of Jesus but in specific in the final words of a dying Man. Lord, I pray that we can not only gather instruction and inspiration from these statements but also, Lord, that we can place ourselves in Jesus’ place as we are crucified with Him and realize that these are things, these are phrases and words that must be real for us as individuals. Lord, I’d like to pray now in a special way that this congregation can experience revival that we can renew our decision through the services today to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. I pray that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. We know Jesus is coming soon and we want to be mobilized by that blessed hope. Also, Lord, I want to pray in a special sense not only for all the needs represented of everybody in this room and those who are watching but for those who have responded to the invitation today. Help them from this moment on to have a new beginning. I pray they’ll keep their eyes on Jesus not to be discouraged or distracted by men or circumstances but to solely and fully consecrate their lives to Jesus, to trust in His word and to believe that through faith in His shed blood we are saved. Please be with them. I pray that you will release and activate your power and your healing in their lives. These things we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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