Today’s read compiled each of the gospel accounts to read as one, putting details in the proper sequence as they occurred, as much as one can from the text. These passages describe a relatively short period of time … just 8 or 9 hours in the life of Jesus, but that one day has changed the world. Jesus was led out to Golgotha to be crucified at 9:00 am in the morning. Around noon, “darkness came over all the land” and lasted until at least 3:00 pm. It wasn’t long after this until Jesus gave up His Spirit willingly and died. He was taken off the cross before the Sabbath started at sunset and buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.
Jesus made several statements from the cross which are recorded in scripture. The fact that He said anything at all is amazing. Crucifixion is a cruel way to die; in order to breathe, the person must push up on his feet which are nailed to the cross. This tells me that the things Jesus said must be important, and we should pay attention. The following are thoughts that came to mind. These are not theological principles, but just my observations.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus had compassion and mercy for the very people who physically nailed Him to the cross. What great love, and an example for us to follow!
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus effectively demolishes any argument for salvation by works as He welcomes a dying thief into His kingdom, based solely on the man’s confession of His own sin and a request for mercy. Salvation is by grace through faith alone.
“Woman, here is your son; Here is your mother.” Jesus was in extreme pain, yet His heart was moved to take care of His mother as one of His last acts. He illustrates two things: the importance of honoring our parents, and the value of the body of Christ. Jesus trusted John to care for His mother in His absence, with the same love and respect as if she were John’s own mother. That’s what the body of Christ does.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” This shows us that Jesus truly did bear the sins of the world. Sin separates us from a holy God.
“I am thirsty.” Jesus felt real pain. His physical body was suffering, just as much as you or I would have. The fact that He was also fully God did not prevent Him from experiencing every physical aspect of the crucifixion.
“It is finished.” What was finished? The payment of our sin debt. When Jesus saves, He saves completely! Jesus accomplished His mission fully.
“Father, into your hands I commit My Spirit.” Jesus was the One sent by God, and He would return to His Father. Jesus obeyed His Father’s will and fulfilled God’s plan of salvation. Also, Jesus really died. He did not faint or swoon as some would argue. He gave up His life on the cross and His Spirit left His body, just as ours will when we face death.
Jesus’ crucifixion is not just a story to read at Easter. We should read it often as a reminder of what Jesus did to purchase our salvation, asking ourselves where we would be in the story.
Nailing Him to the cross?
Standing far off in skepticism?
Asking to care for His broken body?
Jesus died for us all and in His last words, we see who He really was…the Son of God who loved us, suffered for us, planned for us, and forgives us. If we will only believe.