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When God Spoke from His Death Bed – Part 2

In my previous post, I shared the first three statements spoken by Jesus Christ while hanging on the cross (His “deathbed”) and making atonement for sin. Listed below are the other four statements in their chronological order.

4. A Word of SEPARATION – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27.46)

After hanging on the cross for three hours, darkness blanketed the earth. The kind of dead, black darkness that disallows you to see your hand in front of your face.

When forsaken by His brothers, followers, apostles, etc., Jesus had always had God to turn to, but now even God the Father turned His back! When that happened, Jesus could hold His silence no longer. Matthew 27.46 says that Christ “cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” The term translated “cried out” could just as easily describe the loud, raging roar of a lion.

Keep in mind that Jesus was the eternal Son of God and had forever enjoyed the sweetest, most intimate fellowship with the Father. Our finite minds can’t comprehend it, but that didn’t change even when Jesus took on flesh and became a human being. For 33 earthly years, He and His Father had enjoyed that same, incredibly rich relationship…until now.

On the cross Jesus “became sin for us” (2 Cor. 5.21), that is, He took upon Himself the sins of all humanity and experienced the full fury of God’s wrath against those sins. The punishment for ALL MY SINS was poured out on the sinless Savior!

Previews give us a glimpse of what to expect in a future episode of a TV program or an upcoming movie. Jesus, hanging on the cross and being forsaken by God, gives us a preview. A preview of what? you ask. A preview of HELL! Those who reject Christ as their Savior essentially tell Him, “I don’t want You to be a part of my life! Leave me alone!” Well, if a person dies that way, they get their wish for all eternity: “[Unbelievers] shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thes. 1:9). Therefore, Christ on the cross, forsaken by God and being punished for (our) sin, gives us an awful preview of Hell.

5. A Word of SUFFERING – “I thirst” (John 19.28-29)

How ironic that the One who had earlier said, “If you believe in Me, you shall never thirst again” (John 6.35), is now the One who is thirsty.

Jesus has been hanging on the cross for six hours (cf. Mark 15:25, 34). When you consider the incredible stress Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, His loss of blood from the scourging and the crucifixion, and his exposure to the Middle Eastern sun, it’s easy to understand how raging His thirst had become.

At the beginning of the crucifixion Jesus was offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15.23), which was designed to have a mildly numbing effect. He refused it, choosing rather to experience the agony of the cross with full clarity of mind. Now that death is near, Jesus takes a few sips of sour wine and thereby moistens his mouth to loudly proclaim His final two statements.

6. A Word of SATISFACTION – “It is finished” (John 19.30)

This is not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr. It’s not the final cry of a wasted life. It’s not even an expression of relief that suffering is finally over. Instead, it is a bold declaration that the Redeemer has finished the ultimate task for which He was sent. Everything necessary to make atonement for sin and pay the price for redemption for sinners is now complete! There are at least four proofs that Christ did indeed “finish” His salvific task:

  1. The tearing of the temple veil—demonstrating that access to God was now completely open (Mt. 27.51)
  2. The raising of Christ from the dead—showing that God had accepted His sacrifice (Mt. 28.1-7)
  3. The exaltation of Christ to Father’s right hand—reassuming His place of supremacy and power (Mk. 16.19)
  4. The sending of the Holy Spirit to believers—testifying of Christ and drawing men to Him for salvation (Jn. 15.26)

7. A Word of SUBMISSION – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23.46)

For a little silver Jesus was betrayed into the hands of jealous religious leaders. For 12 hours He has been in the hands of violent and wicked men. Now, He is more than ready to entrust His spirit into the Father’s hands! His redemptive task is complete. It is time for Him to enter into His well-deserved rest.

“You’re in good hands with Allstate.” That may be true for protecting your earthly assets. But when it comes to your soul, you’re only in the “good hands” of the Lord God when you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Otherwise, Hebrews 10:31 states that for unbelievers who die in their sin, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Death, Gospels, Jesus Christ, Salvation

 

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When God Spoke from His Deathbed

Whenever you’re by the side of a dying family member or friend, you lean in to catch even the faintest of their expressions, not wanting to miss anything. The final words uttered by a person before their death are often of great significance. Never has this been truer than in the case of the Lord Jesus (God the Son), whose deathbed was a cruel, rugged cross!

While suspended between Heaven and earth, Christ made seven statements that are like windows through which we can see what was foremost on His heart and mind. Three of these statements were made before darkness, three after, and one during. The first, last and middle were prayers.

Listed below are those three of those seven statements in their chronological order. No Gospel account gives all seven, requiring us to compare and compile the accounts in order to discern the order. The other four statements will be discussed in my next post.

1. A Word of SYMPATHY – “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23.34)

How different was Jesus’ response and spirit from ours most of the time! When we are mistreated we want revenge. We hold grudges. We become sullen and bitter.

Here are Jews and Gentiles alike, Roman soldiers and Jewish religious leaders, killing the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. And amazingly, Jesus is praying for their forgiveness.

Now some would contend, “Since they don’t know what they are doing, they’re not guilty. And if they’re not guilty, they don’t even need forgiveness”? But John Piper argues that Jesus draws attention to their ignorance of what they are doing and asks God to forgive them because they are guilty for not knowing what they are doing.

In other words, they should know what they are doing and are guilty for not knowing what they are doing. For over three years, Jesus has been demonstrating his power over death and disease. He’s been teaching with unprecedented authority. The evidence of His being the Messiah was as plain as the nose on their face! They didn’t know, but they should have.

Essentially, the prayer of Jesus, was an appeal that time should be granted them for repentance, time for them to hear preaching, time to awaken their consciences to their desperate and eternal need of a Savior. And because of God’s amazing grace, this prayer was indeed answered (Acts 3:12-15,17; 4:1-4)!

2. A Word of SALVATION – “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23.43)

The two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus were hardened criminals, perhaps insurrectionists. Robbery, murder, and assassination may have been their “tricks of the trade.”

Initially, both thieves reviled Jesus (Mt. 27:41-44). But, as one thief witnesses Jesus’ behavior while being nailed to the cross, as he hears Jesus say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” as he reads the inscription above Jesus’ head (“This is the King of the Jews,” Lk. 23.38), he evidently feels the pangs of conviction for his own sins and has a radical change of mind regarding “the Man in the middle.”

He rebukes the other criminal and gives indirect evidence of his own fear of God (Lk. 23.40). He admits his own guilt (41) and accepts the punishment for his crimes (40-41). He agrees with Pilate’s assessment and finds no fault in Jesus (41b),  acknowledges Jesus’ royalty (42), and humbly asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into His kingdom (42)!

Jesus’ response is phenomenal: “Today, you’ll be with Me in Paradise!”

While hanging on a cross, this thief “bows his knee,” accepts Jesus as his Savior and Lord, and soon thereafter joins the Lord in Heaven! Note: His destiny was not secured by baptism or good works! What a wonderful demonstration of Jesus earlier declaration: “He that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6.37).

3. A Word of SELFLESSNESS – “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother” (John 19.26-27)

While suffering excruciating pain, Jesus selflessly turns His attention to His earthly mother. From the pulpit of His cross, Jesus preaches to all ages a sermon on the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your parents!” While the years of juvenile obedience come to an end, the years of honoring one’s parents are not supposed to end.

Essentially, Jesus was asking John to adopt Mary as his own mother and provide loving care for the balance of her life. What a compliment to John to be so trusted. John became a substitute for the Substitute!

If you are wondering why Jesus didn’t entrust Mary to the care of His brothers, it’s because they did not yet believe in Jesus (Mt. 13:53-58; John 7:1-5). Evidently, Jesus preferred to put Mary in the care of an “adopted, believing son,” rather than her own unbelieving sons.

I plan to address the other four statements in my next post, but for now, please know that Jesus Christ made these statements while making atonement for sin, YOUR SIN: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2)!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Death, Gospels, Jesus Christ, Salvation

 

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Trash or Treasure?

Nearly 25 years ago, when my wife and I were living in Greenville, SC, yard sale shopping was a much-anticipated Saturday activity. We had been married for just over a year and had very little furniture and equally little money. Finding a yard sale bargain was fun and exciting for us.

On one Saturday morning, we must have really needed a kitchen table and chairs because we bought two of them! At separate yard sales, of course. We actually took the chairs from one table and swapped them with the chairs of the other table, recovered the chairs we kept, and then sold the other “mix-matched” table chairs. We kept that “blended set of table and chairs for over 20 years. Money well spent!

Yard sale shopping affords a great opportunity for “one man’s trash to become another man’s treasure.” In other words, what may be useless to one person may be incredibly valuable to another.

This reminds me of how Jesus was treated when He lived on this earth as the one and only God-Man. It reminds me of how the same Jesus, now ascended and sitting on the right hand of the Father, is treated today.

Jesus Trashed

He was misidentified

He was viewed as a threat to the religious establishment. The Pharisees and other religious leaders thought Him to be a rebel, someone who seemingly disagreed with Moses and the Torah. They totally missed the fact that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the Son of God, who wanted to be their Savior!

He was misunderstood

He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans, who were enemies of the Jews, but to overthrow the Devil, who is the archenemy of all humanity (Heb. 2:14-15). He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). He didn’t initially come to reign, but to redeem .

He was murdered

He wasn’t merely threatened to shut His mouth. He wasn’t merely beaten to teach Him a lesson. He wasn’t merely given a life sentence to be served in a cold, damp Roman prison. HE WAS MURDERED! He was suspended between Heaven and earth on a cruel rugged cross and crucified like a common criminal (Mt. 27:27-54). Jesus was trashed.

Jesus Treasured

Read Luke 7:36-50. There you will find Jesus accepting a dinner invitation extended to Him by a curious Pharisee named Simon. At some banquets uninvited guests could come in and stand around the walls, listening to the conversations and, on a good night, enjoy some leftovers.

One woman found her a spot and waited anxiously for the guest of honor to arrive…the Man she loved more than life itself…Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus positioned Himself in front of this “sinful woman” and reclined for dinner. Immediately she began to weep, to rain tears on Jesus’ feet. Having no towel to dry them, she used her own hair. Oh, and she covered those precious feet with tons of kisses, not unlike the father did when his prodigal son returned home from a life of sin and rebellion (cf. Luke 15:20).

Then, having brought an alabaster flask of ointment, she began to anoint those feet, the same feet that would soon be pierced with a spike driven by a muscular Roman soldier. So, what made this woman treat Jesus like such a treasure?

Because He forgives sin

Jesus explained to Simon in verse 47 that the woman’s “sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Was she a woman of the night? A prostitute? How many tricks had she turned? Didn’t matter. Having placed her faith in Jesus, her sins, every single one of them, were forgiven! Separated from her as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12)!

Because He changes lives

When it was time for the banquet to end and the guests to depart, Jesus told this woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” When your sins are forgiven and Christ is your Savior, you have a sweet peace that in beyond understanding by those who don’t have it (Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:7).

What a transformation…to go from being consumed with guilt and shame to being overjoyed with grace and peace. Her life was changed indeed. She’s on her way to an abundant life on earth (John 10:10) and an eternal life thereafter in Heaven (John 3:16)! No wonder Jesus was treasured!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Jesus Christ, Luke, New Testament

 

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Singing for the King!

Doug Oldham, a legendary gospel singer who was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2006, went to be with his Lord on July 21, 2010. *Oldham recalls a story his father told him early in his career.

Doug, used to large audiences, complained to this father that only 46 people had attended one of his concerts. He added, “Papa, I could have stayed home to better advantage.”

Pastor Oldham told his son about Sir Edwin Booth, the most celebrated actor in all of England in the 1800s. His younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, also an actor, was so intimidated by his older brother that he came to America, and acted out his treachery at the expense of Abraham Lincoln’s life.

Sir Edwin once performed for an audience of only six people, who had come to the theater despite a fierce snowstorm. His understudy tried to persuade Sir Edwin to let him take his part that night. Sir Edwin refused and thundered, “We don’t play to the crowd; we play to the king.”

With a glance at the stagehand, he said, “Pull.” The curtain was pulled and Booth gave one of the finest performances of his life – to an almost empty theater. The six people sat far back and he could hardly see them.

Next morning a messenger handed him a letter. Booth tore it open to find a note that read: “Last evening my wife and I, along with four friends, attended your brilliant performance. We sat enthralled as you lifted the entire cast beyond their finest capabilities. I was honored and humbled as we watched.” The note was signed and bore the seal of the King of England!

Doug has never forgotten the point of his father’s story. He still says, “I do my best to be sure I’m singing for the King!”

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23).

*I apologize for not knowing to whom to give credit for this illustration, but it is not original with me.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Colossians, Excellence, Jesus Christ

 

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