OUR LORD’S LAST WORDS FROM THE CROSS

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: LUKE 23:34, 43; JOHN 19:26, 27; MATTHEW 27:46; JOHN 19:28, 30; LUKE 23:46




INTRODUCTION:


  1. Last words are often very interesting. The great preacher John Wesley’s last words were, “The best of all is, God is with us.”
  2. D.L. Moody’s last words were, “Earth recedes; Heaven opens before me. No, this is not a dream.  God is calling me and I must go.”
  3. Far more wonderful and far more important are the last words of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Do you recall that in John 7, when the Pharisees said to the temple officers, “Why have ye not brought him (referring to Jesus)?”  The officers answered, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).
  5. Our Lord said in John 6:63, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
  6. This being the time of the year when we commemorate our Lord’s death and resurrection, I would like to look this morning at our Lord’s seven last sayings from the cross.

 

I. FATHER, FORGIVE THEM (LUKE 23:34).

  1. Our Lord’s first word from the cross was “Father.” 
  2. Our Lord’s first word from the cross was a prayer. 
  3. This first word from the cross was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12, where it says our Lord “made intercession for the transgressors.”
  4. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Peter said to the Jews in Acts 3:17, “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”
  5. This ignorance and spiritual blindness appears to be getting worse and worse.  Second Corinthians 4:3 and 4 says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
  6. We are surrounded by lost sinners, blinded by Satan, “the god of this world.”  Our job is to give them the Gospel.  Acts 26:18 says, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
  7. Before we move on to our Lord’s next statement from the cross, let us consider Stephen’s last words, recorded in Acts 7:60, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

 

II. VERILY I SAY UNTO THEE, TODAY SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE (LUKE 23:43).

  1. I mentioned that our Lord’s first word from the cross was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12. So was the second – “and he was numbered with the transgressors.”
  2. One of my favorite hymns was written by William Cowper: “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”
  3. “The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
    And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
    Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
    And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.”
  4. These precious words from our dying Saviour refute the false doctrines and delusions of the cults.  There is no “soul-sleep.” 
  5. This promise to the repentant thief refutes the errors of Rome.  There is no “purgatory.”
  6. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8).
  7. Our Lord’s words refute the atheists who say, “You live and die and are buried, and that’s the end of it.”
  8. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  Two thieves died that day.  One went to heaven to be with Jesus, but the other went to hell.
  9. While we rejoice in the conversion of the repentant thief, we must also warn careless and indifferent sinners about the impenitent thief.
  10. People say they do not believe in heaven and hell, but they are only deceiving themselves.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
  11. This means God has put eternity in man’s heart. Men know instinctively that there is a God, and that beyond this life there is eternity. Missionaries have brought the Bible to distant, primitive lands and have discovered that the native people understood there is an afterlife.
  12. God has revealed Himself to us by His creation.  Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
  13. Psalm 94:9 says, “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?”

 

III. WOMAN, BEHOLD THY SON… (JOHN 19:26, 27)

  1. In our Lord’s third message from the cross, He spoke to His mother and to John, the apostle who wrote the Gospel of John, the epistles of John, and the book of Revelation.
  2. As our Lord hung on the cross – in pain and agony – His concern was not for Himself, but for others.  What a lesson for us!
  3. His first prayer from the cross was for others.
  4. His second word from the cross was a promise to the repentant thief that he would be with Christ in paradise –that day.
  5. And now, His third word was for His mother Mary.  Roman Catholics have twisted these words to defend their worship of Mary.  But this is not Scriptural.
  6. The fifth commandment is, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12).  Our Lord did not have an earthly father, and most Bible teachers believe His stepfather Joseph died at an early age. 
  7. So, our Lord was simply looking out for His mother.  He does not pray to her.  He does not worship her.  Nor does He tell John to worship Mary.  He simply says, “Behold thy mother!”
  8. And then we are told, “And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:27). In other words, John did what our Lord wanted him to do.  He took care of Mary (probably because she was a widow). 
  9. After Luke 2 (when our Lord was 12-years old), we never hear about Joseph again.  He is not mentioned at the wedding at Cana in John 2.
  10. Have you ever wondered why our Lord addressed His mother as “Woman,” rather than “Mother”?  I believe it is because our omniscient Lord knew that later on, Roman Catholics would worship Mary as “the Queen of Heaven” and “the Mother of God.”
  11. In fact, if you study this, you will notice that in the four Gospel accounts our Lord never did address Mary as “Mother.”
  12. First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
  13. Well, then why did our Lord say to John, “Behold thy mother”?
  14. I think it was to comfort Mary – letting her know that John would take care of her as if she were his own mother.

 

IV. MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME? (MATT. 27:46)

  1. This fourth word from the cross is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:1.
  2. This is the only word from the cross that is recorded in the original language (either Hebrew or Aramaic).  This is why some of them that stood by the cross said, “This man calleth for Elias (Elijah)” (Matt. 27:47; cf. 27:49).
  3. There is a profound mystery surrounding this cry from the cross. It is a cry of despair and desolation. 
  4. Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”  In other words, God is holy and cannot look upon sin.
  5. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
  6. The holy, sinless Son of God bore all our sins – all the filthy sins of this sin-loving world. He bore the full penalty for sin. That meant (temporary) separation from God. 
  7. Christ was made a sin-offering, and He died in our place as our Substitute, that He might bring us near to God. It was the manifestation of God’s hatred of sin that Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross.
  8. In those awful moments, our Lord expressed His feelings of being forsaken by God.
  9. John the Baptist had said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  At Calvary, God placed the sins of the world on His Son, and for a time, Jesus felt separated from God the Father.
  10. It was at this time that “God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (II Cor. 5:21).
  11. Notice our Lord did not address God as “Father” (Matt. 27:46). It is the only time in the Bible that Jesus did not address God as Father. 
  12. Because He was identified with sin, and because He took the place of condemned sinners, He was at that time banished from God’s presence.
  13. He uttered that horrible cry so that we might not have to utter it.
  14. By quoting Psalm 22, our Lord was teaching the crowd that He was the promised Messiah.
  15. Psalm 22:13 says, “They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.”
  16. Psalm 22:14 says, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
  17. Psalm 22:16 says, “The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”
  18. Psalm 22:17 says, “I may tell (count) all my bones: they look and stare upon me.”
  19. Psalm 22:18 says, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”
  20. All these Messianic prophecies, and many others too, were fulfilled that day at Calvary. By quoting Psalm 22, our Lord was proving yet again that He was the Messiah who fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

V. I THIRST (JOHN 19:28)

  1. The fifth word from the cross was also a fulfillment of prophecy.  Psalm 69:21 says, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (cf. John 19:28, 29).
  2. These words remind us of Christ’s humanity.   The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.  He became a man, and yet was still God.  He is both God and man, in two distinct natures.
  3. These words also remind us that Christ suffered on the cross so that we will not have to suffer in hell.  
  4. Remember our Lord said the rich man in hell was tormented in the fires of hell.  He begged Abraham to send Lazarus, “that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
  5. The same Saviour who said to the woman at the well, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13, 14) was now crying from the cross, “I thirst” (John 19:28).

 

VI. IT IS FINISHED (JOHN 19:30)

  1. Thank God, our Lord did not say He was finished.  He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  2. The finished work on the cross is a precious doctrine.  Sinners at the cross reviled our Lord.  They mocked Him and wagged their heads, and said, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:40).
  3. Aren’t you glad He did not come down from the cross?
  4. Since Jesus said, “It is finished,” we reject the mass.  The Roman Catholic Church defines the mass as an “unbloody re-enactment of Calvary.”
  5. In the Roman Catholic Catechism, the question is asked: “Is the Holy Mass one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross?”  The answer states: “The Holy Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross, inasmuch as Christ, who offered himself, a bleeding victim on the Cross to his heavenly Father, continues to offer himself in an unbloody manner on the altar, through the ministry of his Priests.”
  6. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the Mass, Christ is literally sacrificed again. This is contrary to Scripture.
  7. Hebrews 10:12 says, “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
  8. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
  9. Since Jesus said, “It is finished,” there can be no purgatory.  The Roman Catholic Church teaches that purgatory is an intermediate state between heaven and hell.  They say that most sinners are too bad for heaven, but too good for hell.
  10. They say that purgatory is “the place of torment for those who die in venial sin or who have not paid the temporal punishment of sin.”
  11. According to the Bible, there is so no such thing as “venial sins” and “mortal sins.”
  12. Loraine Boettner said, “If any one of us actually had the power to release souls from purgatory and refused to exercise that power except in return for a payment of money, he would be considered cruel and unchristian -- which indeed he would be…No decent man would permit even a dog to suffer in the fire until its owner paid him five dollars to take it out” (Roman Catholicism).

 

VII. FATHER, INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT (LUKE 23:46)

  1. These are the words of Psalm 31:5 – “Into thine hand I commit my spirit.”
  2. These words remind us that no man took our Lord’s life from Him.  He said in John 10:17, 18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
  3. “And having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46b).  “Gave up the ghost,” means our Lord released His spirit voluntarily. 
  4. “He was not gasping for breath in an attempt to prolong life” (Lehman Strauss).
  5. Our Lord died willingly.  And our Lord died victoriously. 
  6. And, our Lord died for you and for me.

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. Jesus died on the cross as our Substitute. Because He had taken our sins upon Himself, God the Father turned His back on His only begotten Son.
  2. While He hung on the cross, Jesus was separated from God the Father for a brief time as the fierce wrath of God the Father was poured out on the sinless Son.
  3. And so, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
  4. And in that terrible moment Jesus fell under the judgment of God — not because of His own sins, but because of our sins. He took the judgment we deserved, and now He says to those who have trusted Him for salvation – “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
  5. But to those who are not saved, Jesus says, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).


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