SEVEN THOUGHTS FROM THE CROSS

Steven Clark Goad

bout 9 a.m. on a Friday morning Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross just outside the Jerusalem walls. For six agonizing hours he suffered indescribable torture. During this period of time he gave utterance to seven of the most remarkable comments ever made by any dying man.

We cherish the last words of our dying loved ones. I still vividly remember the words of my dying mother, though I was only sixteen at the time of her departure. She called us into her bedroom and said, "I love my family very much. I want you all to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Never do anything that would harm your body or your soul." Simple - yet a lasting impression on my mind.

The last words of our dying Savior ought to be even more precious to us than those of our relatives and friends. The first three sayings were spoken in the early morning light. The last were uttered in the miraculous and mysterious darkness that shrouded the earth at Jesus death. Here are my Lord's last words.

"Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:24). Few of us can forgive easily those who harm us. Sometimes even Christians hold grudges over trivial matters and refuse to forgive even minor slights by others. We sometimes just do not have the forgiving spirit of Jesus Christ.

In these few words of our Lord we observe a prayer for his executioners. If Jesus could forgive murderers, why cannot we learn to forgive each other in the Lord? Jesus was demonstrating in an incontrovertible way the principle of "turning the other cheek." Jesus practiced what he taught, even to his dying moments.

How many of us preach and teach one thing while living another? An individual can only do what he knows is right. Shame on those who do what they know is wrong.

"Today thou shalt be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). What a marvelous gift to give a thief. The malefactor asked for mercy and received more than he bargained for. Jesus, in his own suffering, took the time to comfort a fellow-sufferer. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own burdens that we forget that others suffer, too.

We must take time from our burdens to offer compassion to those around us. We must refuse to be so busy that we do not reach out to the lonely, the hungry, the bereaved, the fearful, and anxious, the widowed, the orphaned, the prisoner, the sick and the lost. Jesus still offers the same grace today to those who are dying in the Lord.

"Woman, behold thy son! Behold, thy mother" (John 19:26). Jesus had sympathy for his loved ones who were standing nearby. Christ, even in death, cared about the physical requirements of his earthly mother. He was entrusting Mary to Johns care and John to Marys care. Sometimes we fail to show concern for our relatives. Children should help look after their parents as parents looked after the needs of their children formerly. "If a man care not for his own, and especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8).

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46). This, to me, is one of the most puzzling passages in scripture. Did God really forsake Jesus, his only begotten son? Or was Jesus so overcome with pain that he lost his mind for a moment and only supposed his Father had forsaken him? One thing for sure, the cross was a lonely place for anyone as Jesus quoted David in these words.

Because of our sins, all of us have more reason to be crucified than did Jesus. Christ was perfect, and yet demonstrated his unselfish love to humanity by suffering in this extreme manner. Jesus thought he was alone!

"I thirst" (John 19:28). We see in this a word of need of the body, signifying the humanity of Christ even though divine. His body was still functioning as a human. He made a simple request for water which was mockingly denied.

Jesus wants us to thirst for the water of life which he provides. "Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires the water of life without price come" (Revelation 22:17). Do we genuinely have a spiritual thirst because of the great love Jesus showed us? "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

"It is finished" (John 19:30). Here we see a message of triumph! Jesus came to redeem humanity and this is exactly what was transpiring as he died. Jesus was saying, in essence, "The price for the sins of humanity is being paid this very moment as I die!" Gods scheme of redemption is seen in this terrible suffering and death.

"It is finished," meant that Gods plan to rescue the perishing was being accomplished in this most dastardly of human horrors. Jesus was finishing his mission on earth all except for his resurrection and ascension. What a glorious moment in human history this was! Claim it!

"Father, into your hands commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46). In this statement we observe a prayer of resignation. "Father, your will be done. Father, all is yours and under your control." Are we really resigned to doing Gods eternal will? Is our life wrapped up in service to the Lord. Can we say, "Father, into your hands I give my life and my wealth and my talents and my soul?" Jesus gave all he had for us and asks us to give our lives in return. We can do no less!