Luke 23:34, Luke 23:43, John 19:26-27, Mark 15:34, John 19:28, John 19:30
Luke 23:34 This is a word of forgiveness.
So what had Jesus done? Gave sight to blind people, turned water into wine, healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, raised the dead, etc. Clearly what needs to be done? You guessed it, crucify Him! That’s crazy right?
But that’s often how we sinful humans deal with God, isn’t it? I mean, rather than welcoming Him into our lives, we push Him away. Rather than hear His words, we shut our Bible, we find better things to do than to come to worship or Sunday school. Sometimes we know our sins and can feel them, many times we don’t, but it’s still sin. God would be perfectly fair in condemning each one of us, and particularly God would have been particularly fair in condemning those putting Jesus to death.
But that’s not what we hear! Rather, we hear a word of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus reaches out in love. The word “forgiveness” literally has the idea of officially releasing someone from debt. What has God done for you? He’s released you from your sins. He won that forgiveness here on the cross.
Luke 23:43 This is a word of hope.
Have you heard these phrases before? Sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura? They came from the Reformation and mean “grace alone,” “faith alone,” “Scripture alone.” They’re important because people at that time were stressing that you could be saved at least partly by the good works that you do.
But the fact that some people thought that doesn’t make it true. In fact, what God says is the opposite. By nature we were dead in our trespasses and sins, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags in God’s sight. You see, on our own there is nothing you or I can do to please God.
And that makes this word from the cross all the more beautiful. The two men hanging on those crosses were terrible criminals. Even in the eyes of their peers they were awful people deserving death. And their visible sinfulness makes the message of salvation- oh so clear. The one criminal who asked Jesus to remember him had been convinced by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Jesus, who is God, could see in His heart and know this. So Jesus could confidently tell him he would have life eternal. The man had done horrible things deserving death, but because of what Jesus was doing for him on the cross he had life.
So while hanging on that cross paying for the sins of the world, Jesus taught us an important lesson about our salvation: It has nothing to do with what we’ve done, but it has everything to do with what He’s done!
John 19:26-27 This is a word of personal care.
I’ll never be able to fathom what Jesus is enduring when He speaks these words! The physical pain, the physical exhaustion, and yet even more than that…incomprehensible soul torment of bearing the sins of the world! It’s easy for us to assume Jesus was at this moment concerned only with this great, big, glob of sinful humanity as a whole.
And so for us He speaks this word, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” In the height of suffering He’s concerned about the individual. He’s concerned about His mother’s earthly needs. He cares about her welfare. He also cares about you, the individual. He cares about your earthly needs. He cares about your surgery, your job, your marriage, your homework.
By dying on the cross Jesus shows His concern for you, personally and individually.
Mark 15:34 This is a word of horror.
From noon to three the sky went black. What does it mean to be separate from God? What does it mean when God hides his face from you? What does it mean that the wages of sin is death? About three o’clock in the afternoon, we hear these words screamed in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This is the wages of our sin. This is to be separate from God. This is to have God hide his face from you. This is to have God turn His back on you in anger. That is hell. The complete absence of the blessing of God. There is no hell on earth. While we have life, while rain continues to fall, while sun continues to shine, we taste the goodness of God. But, hell is none of that. Hell is terror. Hell is worms eating you and never finishing. Hell is fire. Hell is beyond imagination.
Here we have words of one who was there. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” One who was there for you and for me. “He was delivered over to death because of my sins. The punishment that brought me peace was upon him. By his wounds I have been healed.” By dying on the cross, Jesus suffered hell for you!
John 19:28 – This is a word of power.
Fill the entire state of Texas with silver dollars 2 feet deep. Mark one of those silver dollars toss back with the rest, take a massive stick and stir it up, send in a blind person by helicopter, the chances of that blind person picking the marked silver coin are the same odds that just 8 of the prophecies in the OT would be fulfilled in one person by chance or at random. Now consider the fact that there are well over 60 prophecies about Jesus.
How trivial, we might think. To ask for a drink? Trivial, until you see the pattern. Over and over again through Jesus’ life we see these words: this fulfilled the Scripture. Many centuries before the psalmist had said Jesus would be thirsty. So he said it.
Trivial? No. Comforting. There was a plan. God had designed this entire series of events, to the smallest detail. He was in charge. He would direct all to ensure that eternal life would be won for the world.
That’s power. God’s power to work his plan for your life. God’s promise to you? “I will work out all things for the good of those who love me, who have been called according to my purpose.” Afraid things are out of control? “I am thirsty,” just to prove that God is in absolute control.
John 19:30 – This is a word of full payment.
In the famous hymn by Martin Luther “A Mighty Fortress is our God” Luther speaks of the devil and says, “one little word can fell him.” People have speculated as to what that one little word is. Could be that any Word of God can stop Satan in His tracks. But this word in the Greek is one little word “tetelesthai.” It’s a word that archaeologists have found stamped on ancient invoices. The word could literally be translated “Paid in Full.” What was paid in full? Your sins, my sins, the sins of the world, paid in full.
Satan loves to accuse. He loves to point the finger and say, “Look at all the horrible things you’ve done. Look at all the horrible words you’ve spoken. Look at your horrible mind full of anger, greed, lust, selfishness…do you really think you’ll end up in heaven?”
We get to respond with one little word “it is finished” “paid in full.” It may be little in length, but its huge in impact. Nothing less than the FULL payment for ALL of the sin of ALL of the world. And if the sins of ALL the world have been paid for, then your sins have been paid for. In full. It’s true now; it’s true forever!