THE WORDS SPOKEN BY LORD JESUS ON THE CROSS
The crucifixion of Christ is the
foundation of all Christianity. The apostle Paul himself stated that he never
boasts except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14). Many today, though, have relegated the
crucifixion to a primarily symbolic role in their religion or faith. They fail
to truly understand that Jesus' redemptive work on the cross is the fulfillment
of God's divine plan of. salvation for mankind. By shedding His precious
blood as atonement, Christ has reconciled men with God, and brought all people
together in Him (Eph 2:13-17).
For present day Christians, a careful meditation upon the words that
Jesus spoke on , the cross may lead to a deeper
understanding of the Lord's amazing grace.
These words, though spoken in the midst of agonizing suffering, carry a
profound spiritual significance, and serve to sum up Jesus’ teachings of love
as well as to culminate God's plan of salvation for all men.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what
they do. (Luke 23:34)
In His moment of greatest agony,
Jesus prayed and pleaded for His enemies with empathy and a loving
understanding of human frailty and ignorance.
It is natural for man to love only those who love him in return. However, the essence of Christ's teachings on
love lies in the transcendence of human nature, i.e. the ability to love and
forgive one's enemies. On the cross,
Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him, and thus became the embodiment and
fulfillment of His own teachings.
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me
in Paradise (Luke 23:43)
This promise, delivered by Christ
even as He hung upon the cross, resonates with power and majesty. His words
abound with compassion and illustrate His desire even to the last to bring
salvation to the souls of the lost. He
remained hopeful even of the lowest of criminals ending his sinful journey on
the neighboring cross. The prime purpose
of Jesus' life - the calling of not the righteous but sinners (Matt 9:13) - is
manifested dramatically in this one incident.
Another point worth examin ing is the stark contrast in the attitudes of
the two criminals. Two types of people
are represented: one rebellious and hard-hearted even to the finish, the other
remorseful and repentant of his sin. God
will not despise a broken and contrite heart (Ps5l:17). It is only after a heart felt confession of
sin and an earnest plea for forgiveness that one may begin to catch sight of
the glory and grandeur which God has in store for eternity. It is never to late
to save a soul; neither is it ever too late to repent.
Woman, behold your son! Behold, your mother! (John 19:26,27)
Jesus abiding humanity is
displayed here. Through His words
unfolds a poignant scene. In His most
painful hour, and while on the verge of accomplishing the great mission
entrusted to Him by the Heavenly Father-the salvation of the world Jesus still
gave thought to the welfare of His mother.
Encompassed within God's universal plan of salvation is His love towards
the family and the individual. Thus,
proof of love for God and comprehension of His commandments comes through
honoring one's parents, and loving one's brothers (I John 4:20-21).
The three phrases that Jesus
addressed to the people around Him while on the cross serve as a brilliant
summation of His life and teachings on the essence of love, namely, forgiveness
of enemies, salvation of sinners, and love for family.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt
These anguished words reveal how
deeply Jesus felt His abandonment by the Heavenly Father as He bore the sins of
mankind. During His earthly mission,
Jesus glorified God in everything, and at the same time the Heavenly Father
made known His feelings toward Jesus to many people (included Jesus’
disciples): "This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased"
(Matt 3:16, 17:5; John 12:28). But, on
the cross, Christ was shunned by God. He
was wounded for man's transgressions; He was bruised for man's iniquities. Separation and alienation from God was the
price Jesus had to pay for man's salvation.
The spiritual agony of being forsaken by God is beyond human
comprehension. However, for a Christian
to truly cherish the grace of God and keep himself always in the love of Jesus,
he need remember nothing but Jesus' cry of agony.
I thirst. (John 19:28)
In contrast to Jesus' previous cry
of spiritual suffering, this phrase manifests the physical suffering of
crucifixion. In prophecy, David
described the anguish of Jesus vividly:
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are
out of joint; my heart is wax, it is melted within my breast; my strength is
dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws ... they have
pierced my hands and feet.(Ps 22:14-16)
Frequent meditation upon the pain
and suffering Jesus experienced for the sins of mankind can diminish one's
awareness of the trouble and tribulation encountered in this world today. They become nothing in comparison with those
of Jesus, who suffered long hours of dehydration, loss of blood, fever, and
exhaustion upon the cross.
It is finished. (John 19:30)
This phrase vividly illustrates
the divine purpose and the culmination of God's plan of salvation. With these words, this great plan was finally
accomplished. Jesus made the ultimate
sacrifice of the good shepherd in laying down His life for His sheep (John IO:
IO). He was able to complete the work
entrusted to Him by God after enduring unspeakable pain and humiliation. Today, God also entrusts His believers with
the mission of spreading the Gospel, and the responsibility of living a life
that glorifies Him. In the closing
moments of Paul's life, he said, "I have fought the good fight, I have
finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness... " (11 Tim 4:7-8).
It should be every Christian's hope to be able to utter confidently,
with His last breath, "It is finished."
Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. (Luke
Though for a period of time He was
forsaken by God in spirit, and suffered greatly in flesh, ultimately Jesus
completed His redemptive work on the cross and committed His spirit unto the
Father. He then entered into eternal
rest, peace, and glory. God raised Him
up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be
held by them (Acts 2:24). The hope of a
Christian today lies not in this life, but in the eternity after death. Man's greatest blessing is to die in the
Lord, leaving all worldly burdens behind, and reaping the rewards of his good
deeds (Rev 14:13).
Conclusion and Reflection
The culmination of the most
important chapter in human history, namely, the life and teachings of Jesus, is
contained within the final words He spoke while upon the cross. They open with thoughts of forgiveness,
compassion, and love for His enemies, the sinners of the world, and His own
mother. Christ set an example so that
all might understand the essence of true love.
His next words mirrored the physical agony of crucifixion and the
spiritual agony of abandonment by God.
Every believer must deeply feel the suffering and sacrifice Jesus has
made for his sins. These words can serve
as a goad to remain always in His love, and to determine to suffer with Him if
need be. Without suffering, there is no
victory; without crucifixion, there is no glorification. Jesus concluded with words of
fulfillment. By keeping His commandment
of love and by being willing to suffer for Him, one day may all believers also
be able to say, "There is laid up for me the
crown of righteousness."