Words from the Cross

John 12:32-33 – 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

– Jesus intentioned to draw people to Him through the cross. And yet the cross itself was a reprehensible object in the 1st century. It was an instrument of capital punishment, and was associated with criminals and murderers.  Jesus death was unique. But not the manner of His death.  We may wonder about some of the details of the crucifixion event for which the Bible gives us no information – nails, wood, hammers used, etc. But the Bible provides some of the most  intriguing information about the event – It gives us 7 separate sayings of Jesus on the cross. What do they show us about this event and Jesus?

1) Luke 23:34 “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (These are words of forgiveness and intercession.) These may be the most paradoxical of all of Jesus’ words. He was in the act of giving the sacrifice that would make any forgiveness possible. Those who were crucifying him were ridiculing and mocking Him.(had changed since his arrival and they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David..”.. now they were shouting “Crucify Him”.  But Jesus was only concerned for their spiritual good. His words reflect the willingness of Jesus to intercede for us .. even as He continues to do through His blood – Heb. 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (NKJ)

2) Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (These are words of mercy). In fulfillment of prophecy Jesus was numbered with transgressors in his death – being crucified between 2 thieves. Their subsequent conversation in the six hours on the cross provided a perfect opportunity for Jesus to exhibit His great mercy and love for the sinner who came to Him. In fact it was the cross itself that drew this man, just as it does every person who comes. Luke 23:4141 “And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” (NKJ)  He saw that Jesus was suffering unjustly and vicariously, and He acknowledged Jesus’ authority in His kingdom. Jesus rewards the contrite heart, whenever it arrives.

a)  The popular arguments about wanting to be saved like the thief on the cross fail to understand 2 things:

i)   Jesus is sovereign over salvation, and could during His life offer salvation at any moment to anyone and it would be according to His will.

ii)  This thief (and Jesus) were living under the covenant given through Moses. Baptism for the remission of Sins was not preached in the name of Jesus until after His resurrection.

3)  John 19:26-27 “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 that disciple took her to his own home. (NKJ)  (These are words of affection.) How difficult of a scene was this for Mary? To watch her son be unjustly accused and put to death.  Jesus was cognizant of this personal relationship and the individual need of His mother. John had proven himself faithful by his presence. So Jesus pulls together two people who desperately need each other with His words. Just as He does us. We need each other, especially when things are bad, and we are overwhelmed or lonely. We need to follow Jesus in His example of true affection.

4)  Matt. 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (NKJ) We discussed this statement in our Bible class. 2 views.

a)  Jesus was actually forsaken by God because he was imputed the sins of the world. This view has some problems. Jesus said the Father would not forsake Him.

b)  Jesus was quoting from the 22nd Psalm to express his deep emotional stress and to draw the people to the fulfillment of David’s prophecy.  These are words of confidence, as the 22nd Psalm ends with the rescue of the sufferer.

c)  He did not sin, yet he paid the price that it demanded. 2 Corinthians 5:21- 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Isa. 53:4,6“He was bruised for our iniquities.” He became a curse for us – Galatians 3:13- 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” My sin is an affront to God, and He cannot look upon it. Jesus bore that sin for me.

5)  John 19:28“I thirst” – These are the words of humanity – Jesus was a man, and he evidenced that right up to the end. In these words Jesus indicates his solidarity with all of us. He understands us and sympathizes with our weaknesses. (HE doesn’t excuse them, or he would not be here) Hebrews 2:14-17  – 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

6)  John 19:30 “It is finished.” (These are words of victory). He had come for this moment. In the cross Jesus accomplished the will of His Father that was such urgency for Him. Colossians 2:13-14 – 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

  • To “nail” an obligation to a post was to indicate that it had been paid. The obligation had been met. The law was against us because it revealed what we owed. But Jesus took it out of the way and it was nailed to His cross, along with his body.
  • Col 1:21-2221 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight
  • The shadows of the Old Testaments were completed and made full in Christ. The prophecies that looked forward were fulfilled in His sacrifice.

7)  Luke 23:46 “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (words of faith) Jesus’ death was real, and as such had all the uncertainty that death involves. Jesus was able to trust the Father right up to the end. He was aware that His Father was in control of the life here, and the one beyond. – “I’m not afraid of tomorrow because God is already there.” Jesus knew His father was already there.

Conclusion:  We commit the ultimate folly when we reject Christ. It is His work on the cross that exhibits the power of the gospel to save.

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”