“THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST” By Pastor YAU
Text: Romans 5:6-11 April 8, 2011.
1) The importance of last words: The phrase “Last Words and Testimonies” is used to describe the will of someone who is about to die for things he/she wants to see done according to his/her will. In most cases, if not all, people, legal or family, will respect the words of that someone and carry out the will of the person accordingly.
2) The last words of Jesus Christ: When Jesus was crucified and hung on the cross, he spoke seven sentences or phrases as his last will to the world on his mission of coming to save the souls of the world. Taking a glimpse on these words will take us back to the purpose and accomplishment of his life. It is in his own words we see the tremendous love and mercy of God toward men, women and children of the world.
THE FIRST WORD: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
1) Biblical meaning: It makes very good sense that the first word of Jesus from the cross is a word of forgiveness. That is the purpose of the cross, after all. Jesus was put to death so that we might be forgiven for our sins and reconciled with God. The forgiveness of sin doesn’t come only to those who do not know God, it comes also to those who know God and still sin because of weakness of the fresh. John urged us to repent our sins to receive God’s forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) The phrase “Forgive them” is also inclusive regardless of any human status, race, social, economic or any other difference. God’s forgiveness of sin is for all people so long as they are sincere in repentance.
2) Personal application: Do you believe God’s love and mercy to forgive your sins? Have you confessed your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you? Can you forgive those who have offended you so you will reconcile with them in love?
THE SECOND WORD: “I assure you: today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
1) Biblical meaning: As Jesus was hung on the cross, he was mocked by religious leaders, soldiers and the mop. One of the criminals crucified with him joined the rank, but the other criminal sensed the innocence of Jesus, asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. (v. 42) The response Jesus gave him was astounding: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The word “paradise,” paradeisos in Greek, means “garden” refers to the perfect Garden of Eden as God had created; a place the righteous will go after death. Even though this criminal had no history of believing Jesus as the Son of God, nor had him followed Jesus as a disciple even one day, but his faith in Jesus set him apart from the other criminal to receive grace of God for eternal life. Years later, Paul stressed this point clearly: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift, not from work, so no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
2) Personal application: Yes, we should believe Jesus is the Son of God, we should live our lives to glorify Him and we also should serve Him as our Lord and Savior, but none of the above may do anything to save our souls. If you haven’t made that commitment to believe in Jesus before, it is never too late for you to put your faith in him now so you will be with Him in paradise after your journey on earth is done.
THE THIRD WORD: “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
1) Biblical meaning: As Jesus was dying, his mother was among those who had remained with him. Most of his disciples had fled with the exception of the one called “the disciple he loved.” We don’t know exactly the identity of this man, though most scholars believe he is John. The presence of Mary at the site of crucifixion adds the dimension on the humanity of Jesus. Although he is the Son of the living God in spiritual sense, but he was also a son of a human mother. While the mother grieved to see her son died in extreme torture, Jesus did not forget his responsibility of caring his mother. Through these words, we see the true human nature of the Messiah at work and his love to his mother.
2) Personal application: We oftentimes focus so much on the “Son of God” side, and neglect his “son of a woman” side to the point that we miss the meaning of “the Word became fresh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus is both God and man with his humanity nature. We also can learn from him how he cared the well being of his mother even when he was dying on the cross. If you have a will, you have a way.
THE FOURTH WORD: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
1) Biblical meaning: As Jesus was dying on the cross, he echoed the beginning verse of Psalm 22, which reads: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” In the words of the psalmist Jesus found a way to express the cry of his heart: Why had God abandoned him? Why did his Father turn his back on Jesus in his moment of greatest agony? What we do know is that Jesus entered into the hell of separation from God. The Father abandoned him because Jesus took upon himself the penalty for all the sins of the world. In that excruciating moment, he experienced something far more horrible than the physical pain. Jesus knew what it is like to be rejected by his Father.
2) Personal application: Most of us, if not all, experience the agony on separation from our loved ones, particularly when we were small. But none of us have any experience on the pain of being separated from God. We only have a glimpse on the horrific pain on separation from God in the cry of Jesus. Yet we may imagine how much worse in the hopeless situation if we are going to be eternally separated from God.
THE FIFTH WORD: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
1) Biblical meaning: No doubt Jesus experienced extreme thirst while being crucified. He would have lost a substantial quantity of bodily fluid, both blood and sweat through what he had endured even before the actual crucifixion. The statement “I am thirsty” was a request for something to quench the thirst. But in response, the soldiers gave him “sour wine,” (v. 29) which would deepen his thirst. Without direct reference in the Gospel, this statement might be from Psalm 69:20-21 that reads: “Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst.”
2) Personal application: While Jesus was thirsty in his body for bearing the sins of men, we were encouraged to be thirsty in our souls for the grace and forgiveness of God. What are the things we are thirsty of in our life? Are we thirsty of God and things that would quench our soul on the inside?
THE SIXTH WORD: “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
1) Biblical meaning: If you have watched the movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson, you would understand how I felt seeing the awful suffering of Jesus in a dramatized way. When the show was finally over, I felt relieved. Thank goodness, it is done. The Greek word translated “finished” could be rendered “accomplished or completed.” The death of Jesus accomplished his mission to come into the world as sacrifice or atonement for the sins of the world. His death has also provided complete redemption for whoever is willing to receive God’s give of forgiveness. No one could have done anything else to merit the grace of God.
2) Personal application: If you believe that God’s has a purpose in your life, as he had for the life of Jesus, would you be faithful to accomplish that purpose as did Jesus? No human purpose of life may match that purpose of God for you. All human purposes are temporal and meaningless when we go to heaven. Be diligent to seek God’s purpose for your life and finish it to completion.
THE SEVENTH WORD: “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46)
1) Biblical meaning: While the fourth word is a quotation for Psalm 22, this last word is from Psalm 31:5 which reads: “I entrust my spirit into your hand.” Jesus was putting his post mortem future in the hands of his Father if it was saying: “Father, whatever happens to me after I die is your responsibility.” To die on the cross is Jesus’ responsibility, to have the effect of his death is the responsibility of his Father.
2) Personal application: What can you do to assure yourself of the future of your life? Nothing. Right? No one can or may assure anyone of our future this life and the life to come. We must be willing to commit our future into the hands of God and trust Him that He will give us the best according to his loving will. “Trust and obey, there is no other way” should be the ultimate guarantee of our future: God knows the best!
1) Getting to know Jesus: The best way to know Jesus and his heart is to know words from his mouth, particularly his final words. Reading these seven last words should help us see through his heart on the ultimate sacrifice he had offered for the redemption of our souls. To reject his offer is self-destruction.
2) Getting to know yourself: Now we have heard and seen the words of Jesus, the question now is how will you respond to his call for repentance and forgiveness. How will you obey God’s purpose in your life so you will be an integral part of God’s plan to bring your family, friends and others to know him?