While hanging from a cross on Calvary's Hill, Jesus uttered seven powerful statements that reveal His heart and ministry to us. Each statement carries the weight of the Gospel in itself but together they provide a portrait of God's eternal plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. This portrait reminds us that nothing but the finished work of Jesus Christ will assure our eternal salvation. As Easter week approaches, take some time to meditate on these seven powerful statements.
Statement 1: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (see Luke 23:34).
Jesus did not ask forgiveness for Himself — He didn't need to, He was sinless. Jesus did not ask for a quick, painless death — He knew His purpose for dying on the Cross. Jesus did not ask God for vengeance on the people who sentenced Him to death — instead He prayed on their behalf. Even in His suffering, Jesus was able to forgive His tormentors and care about their souls. If Jesus could forgive those who hurt Him, He can forgive us of our sins — and give us the strength to forgive others.
Statement 2: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (see Luke 23:39-43).
In one of His final interactions, Jesus extended eternal life. As he openly forgave others, Jesus sparked an internal transformation in the criminal next to Him. Our Savior did not allow His own suffering and torment to distract Him from the cries of faith from a repentant sinner. Just as He was not too preoccupied to minister to this criminal, He is never too busy for our concerns.
Statement 3: "He said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'" (see John 19:26-27).
Jesus' first two statements clearly revealed His divinity — His power to forgive sin and to grant eternal salvation. His third statement reflects His humanity. As fully God and fully man, Jesus' concern for Mary was not just as a Savior, but as a son. His compassion for His earthly mother reminds us that Jesus also cares for our well-being and direction in life, even when we don't understand God's plans. And as Jesus asked John to care for Mary, He asks us to care for others on His behalf.
Statement 4: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (see Matthew 27:45-50).
This prayer is the very heart and necessity of the Cross. It is the fulfillment of prophecy from Psalm 22. For the first time in eternity, the Son knew the wrath and the judgment of God. Our sins were poured out on Jesus and God could not look upon Him carrying our sins. This separation from the Father must have been even more agonizing than the physical torture, yet He suffered it for our sake.
Statement 5: "I thirst" (see John 19:28-29).
After enduring unthinkable stress, three days of imprisonment, trials, floggings, and crucifixion, the Son of God — who made the waters of the world — experienced extreme dehydration and thirst. In this statement Jesus fulfilled another prophecy (see Psalm 69:21). Still, there is a deeper meaning to His thirst. Psalm 42 says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" Jesus cried out with the psalmist; He was thirsting for the presence and fellowship of God the Father during their separation on the Cross.
Statement 6: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (see Luke 23:44-49).
This cry was not the cry of defeat, but a cry of victory. It was not the cry of being conquered by death, but of conquering death. It was not a cry of a person who was a victim of circumstances, but One who is in control of His circumstances. As a commander who would dismiss his servant from his presence, Jesus dismissed His own spirit and went to be with God the Father as He spoke the words of Psalm 31:5. When the centurion at the cross witnessed Jesus' victorious cry, the officer recognized the difference between Jesus and every other dying man he had seen. It was in this moment that he said, "Surely this was a righteous man."
Statement 7: "It is finished" (see John 19:28-30).
How many times in the Gospel of John does Jesus talk about His hour? He would say, "My hour has not yet come," or " the hour is coming." It was as if Jesus was hearing the chimes of a clock that nobody else could hear. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ — the sum total of His ministry and mission — was leading to this one, final cry, "Tetelestai" or "It is finished." From His birth, through His boyhood, manhood, and public ministry, Jesus' focus was to finish the work His Father had given to Him — the work of redemption.
From the very beginning, Jesus' death and resurrection were God's plan for our redemption. If you have not experienced the finished work of the cross of Christ, you can today. Right now you can say, "It is finished. Lord God, I come to You. I surrender my life to You. I know that you have conquered sin and death and I accept your gift of eternal life." For believers, Christ's final cry should be a constant encouragement that we do not need to spin our wheels or worry about the future because His finished work secures our glorious and eternal destiny as a child of God.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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