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 (Living Waters 5)
The Words Spoken by Lord Jesus on the Cross
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S.K. Yang


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 27:46)

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 23:46)

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."