JESUS CHRIST’S 7 STATEMENTS ON THE CROSS
TEXT: MATTHEW 27:45-51
DATE: APRIL 17, 2011
Rev. (Dr.) S. K. Awoniyi
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a true story that every Christian must understand and belief. The Son of God was flogged, humiliated, dragged around in a scarlet robe with a crown of thorns, and carried the cross to the place of His execution. Being weakened because of flogging by the Roman soldiers, unable to carry His own cross anymore, a man called Simon of Cyrene (modern Libya) was forced by the Roman soldiers to help Him. But, the question is, where were Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was carrying His own cross? No wonder, Simon was later widely known among Christians for the great role he played.
The Scripture says:
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to go with them,that he might bear his cross (Matt. 27:32).
Every Christian believes that the death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the will and purpose of God as indicated in the Old Testament. During Christ’s death, the darkness that covered the earth echoes Amos 8:9 and Psalm 22:1.
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day (Amos 8:9 (ASV).
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? (Psalms 22:1 (ASV)
The above Scriptural passages indicate a righteous man suffered injustices. Be assured that no person took His life from Him but He gave it up as a ransom for us. Therefore, for Christians, Jesus’ death is the opening of the way to God.
Jesus Christ’s 7 statements on the Cross could be emphasized thus:
1. RECONCILIATION (Luke 23:34)
Since Adam & Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden humanity had inherited the sin which is known has the Adamic nature. But God the Father sought for ways to reconcile humanity to Himself through the prophets and priests. For instance, when God wanted to reconcile Jacob to Himself, Jacob had a dream at Bethel (Gen. 28:10-13). As soon as he lay down with a stone as his pillow, he slept and had a dream. In his dream he envisioned a ladder or a stairway rising from the stone under his head connecting heaven and earth. On this ladder were the angels of God ascending and descending while God stood on the last rung of the ladder. From that dream the Lord wanted Jacob to understand that heaven and earth had been separated by human sin. The ladder Jacob saw in his dream was a communication of mercy from heaven, and an emblem of reconciliation through a mediator between God and humanity (John 1:51). But the true and proper reconciliation was impossible therefore the gap could not be bridged. Finally, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, made the atonement on the cross of Calvary when He cried thus: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The above first statement of Jesus on the cross is parallel to Stephen’s prayer of forgiveness (Acts 7:60b). This statement presents Jesus Christ’s willingness to forgive those who have committed an inexcusable crime against Him. He asked His Father to forgive them on the basis that they do not know what they did. This prayer represents a genuine desire for reconciliation because forgiveness is better than revenge.
2. ABANDONMENT (Mk.15: 34; Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1)
Jesus’ crucifixion is full of dramatic events and great significance of His death. The only statement at the cross-recorded by the apostle Mark, says Larry W. Hurtado, is the abandonment: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”— Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mk. 15:34; Matthew 27:46).
At this statement there was darkness from noon till mid-afternoon (mark 15:33), His cry to His Father (verse 34), the last cry before given up the ghost (verse 37), the tearing of the temple curtain (verse 38), and the Roman officer’s statement (verse 39). The darkness could be an allusion to the Scripture that says:
In that day, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight (Amos 8:9).
If this darkness is applicable to the plague in the land of Egypt during the tenure of office of Moses (Exod. 10:21-22), then it could mean divine judgment on those that reject Jesus as Lord and King. Jesus’ cry at death indicates abandonment by God because Jesus carried mankind sins. It also means Jesus’ death is the fulfillment of the suffering of the most righteous man, Jesus Christ, and His death is according to His Father’s plan. Nevertheless, some people standing beside the cross misunderstood Jesus’ cry. Some thought Jesus was pleading for release from the cross (verse 36). No, that is not true; it’s Jesus’ anguish on behalf of humanity because anything that will jeopardize our relationship with God must produce anguish.
- ASSURANCE OF ENTRY INTO PARADISE (Luke 23:39-43)
Even in the last moment of Jesus’ life on the cross, He could forgive a man of his sins and offers him assurance of entry into paradise. The Scripture says:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us! But the other criminal rebuked him. Don’t you fear God, he said, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:39-43).
The criminal saw Jesus has a perfect and innocent man. And, his faith was rewarded with a promise of eternity.
- JESUS’ SPIRIT INTO HIS FATHER’S HANDS (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)
As Jesus was hanging on the tree He placed He Spirit into the hand of His Father by quoting the Scripture thus:
Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth
In your suffering, do you truly entrust yourself into God’s hand or seeking for help where there is no true hope? Truly wait on the Lord and victory will be yours through Jesus Christ.
- Caring for His mother (John 19:25-27).
Some scholars attribute this scene has letting go of one’s possession. For example, Jesus letting go of His cloth (John 19:23-24); His family; His mother; and most importantly His life. The point here does not mean Jesus’ mother becomes the spiritual mother of all Christians (Mark 3:33-35), but rather providing for one another’s needs. It is remarkable that in the midst of Jesus’ suffering, care for His precious mother was His utmost concern. Therefore, before His death He arranged for His mother with His closest disciple, the Apostle John, who took her to his home and cared for her till her death. This symbolizes the washing of disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). In other words, has Jesus shows His love to every Christian, each Christian must fulfill that love by becoming a servant to each other in mutual ministry. But, in this instance the ministry of a mother and a son respectfully. Jesus’ last responsibility on earth was provision for His mother and His closest disciple. “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to the disciple, He said, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26).
Our own needs should not overshadow the needs of others.
- I am thirsty (John 19 28-29)
J. Ramsey Michaels says, death’s certainty and immediacy are seen in close connection with Jesus’ experience of thirst. But the question is, was Jesus’ thirst literal or metaphorical? In other words, was He thirsting for water? The Scripture says:
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death (Psalm 22:15).
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 61:3).
Our Lord who claimed to satisfy all thirst (John 4:13-14) became thirsty for the sake of you and me.
“I am thirsty” This is to fulfill prophecy and to authenticate the authority of the Scripture (Psalm 22:15).
- It is finished (John 19:29-30)
No sooner was Jesus’ thirst quenched of wine vinegar given to Him by Roman soldiers, that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Finally, every attempt of the religious authorities to kill Him failed, for the Scripture says:
The reason My Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord (John 10:17-18).
Jesus called out with a loud voice, Father; into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:46). “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Beloved, do not lose sight of your goal of doing God’s will? Do you celebrate Good Friday yearly even when it does not make any sense to you? Philip Yancey, the author of the book entitled The Jesus I Never Knew quotes John Irving saying: Anyone can be sentimental about the nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you’re not a believer. As true and important this statement is, so the reality of the events before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Good Friday episode is not arranged in order of importance, but the order of arrangement of the events could be very close.