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THE SEVEN LAST WORDS
The physical suffering of Jesus was intense. It began with scourging by a whip that literally peeled strips of skin and made deep gashes in His back. Many people died from a scourging like that. Next, they jammed a crown of thorns down on His head. The sharp needles tore into the skin of His temples, and Blood streamed down His face. They also beat Him in the face, spit on Him, and tore out chunks of His beard with their hands. Then they made Him carry His own cross through the streets of Jerusalem, to the place of execution called Calvary. Finally, large spikes were driven through His feet and the bottoms of His hands, where the palm and wrist join. Thus He was nailed to the Cross. The Bible says:
“His visage [His appearance] was so marred [so disfigured] more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men [disfigured beyond human likeness]” (Isaiah 52:14).
We have become used to seeing Hollywood actors portray Jesus in movies. These motion pictures never adequately show the deep horror and raw brutality of the crucifixion. What we see on film is nothing when compared to what Jesus actually experienced on the Cross. Not until “The Passion of the Christ” did we see what really happened to Him. It was truly horrible.
Fissures had opened up on His scalp. Blood streamed down His face and neck. His eyes were nearly swollen shut. His nose was probably broken and probably His cheekbone too. His lips were bleeding and torn. It would be difficult to recognize Him.
Yet that was exactly what the prophet Isaiah foretold of the Suffering Servant, “His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14). The mocking and spitting was also predicted by that prophet: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
This brings us to the Cross. Jesus is crucified there, dripping with Blood. As He hangs on the Cross, He gives seven short sayings. I want us to think about those seven last words of Jesus on the Cross.
I. The first word – forgiveness.
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33-34).
That is the reason Jesus went to the Cross – to forgive our sin. He knew He was going to be killed long before He went to Jerusalem. The New Testament teaches that He deliberately allowed Himself to be crucified to pay for your sin.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3).
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them,” as He hung on the Cross. God answered His prayer. Every person who trusts fully in Jesus is forgiven. His death on the Cross pays the penalty for your sin. His Blood washes your sins away.
II. The second word – salvation.
Two thieves were crucified, one on either side of Jesus.
“And one of the malefactors [criminals] which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing [wrong]. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
The conversion of the second thief is very revealing. It shows
1. Salvation is not by baptism or church membership – the thief did neither of these.
2. Salvation is not by a good feeling – the thief only had bad feelings - he was crucified
as well as being under conviction of sin.
3. Salvation does not come by going forward or raising your hand – his hands were nailed
to a cross, as well as his feet.
4. Salvation does not come by “asking Jesus into your heart.” The thief would have been
astonished if someone had told him to do that!
5. Salvation does not come by saying “the sinner's prayer.” The thief did not pray this prayer.
He only asked Jesus to remember him.
6. Salvation does not come by changing the way you live. The thief had no time to do that.
This thief was saved the same way you must be saved:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Believe wholeheartedly on Jesus, and He will save you by His Blood and righteousness, just as He saved the crucified thief.
III. The third word – affection.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:25-27).
Jesus told John to take care of His mother. There is more to the Christian life after you get saved. You need to be taken care of. Christ committed His dear mother to the Apostle John. He commits you to the care of the local church. No one can make it in the Christian life without the care and affection of the local church. That is a truth which is often forgotten in our day.
“And the Lord added to the church [at Jerusalem] daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
IV. The fourth word – anguish.
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46).
This anguished cry of Jesus shows the reality of the Trinity, the Godhead. God the Father turned away, as God the Son bore your sins on the Cross. The Bible says:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).
V. The fifth word – suffering.
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth” (John 19:28-29).
This verse shows us the great suffering Jesus went through to pay for our sins:
“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
VI. The sixth word – atonement.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished” (John 19:30).
Much that I have said so far could have been given by a Catholic priest. But on this sixth word hangs the Protestant Reformation, as well as the faith of Baptists down through the ages. Jesus said, “It is finished.”
Was Jesus right when He said, “It is finished”? The Catholic church says, “no.” They say He must be crucified afresh, and offered up anew in each Mass. But the Bible says that is wrong.
“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).
Jesus paid full atonement for our sins, once and for all, on the Cross.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
(“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).
VII. The seventh word - commitment to God.
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus showed His complete commitment to God the Father in His last statement before death. As great Spurgeon pointed out, this reflects the very first recorded words of Jesus, “Wist [knew] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” (Luke 2:49). From first to last, Jesus did the will of God.
One of the rough centurions who nailed Him to the Cross stood listening to these seven sayings. The centurion had seen many crucifixions, but he had never seen any man die the way Jesus died, preaching a wonderful sermon as His life-blood flowed away.
“Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47).
That centurion thought a little more about Jesus, and then he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
He is the Son of God! He is risen – alive, physically – from the dead. He has ascended into Heaven. He sits on the right hand of God. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
There are some who think that believing in God is enough. But they are wrong. No one is saved by believing in God alone. Jesus Himself said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way” (That Incredible Christian, p. 135). If you do not trust Jesus, you are lost. No matter how “good” you are, no matter how often you attend church, or read the Bible, you are lost if you have not trusted Jesus. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus is the only one with Blood to cleanse you from your sin. Amen.
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 15:24-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Blessed Redeemer” (by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).
THE OUTLINE OF
THE SEVEN LAST WORDS
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (Luke 23:33).
(Isaiah 52:14; 50:6)
I. The first word – forgiveness, Luke 23:33-34; I Peter 3:18;
II. The second word – salvation, Luke 23:39-43; Acts 16:31.
III. The third word – affection, John 19:25-27; Acts 2:47.
IV. The fourth word – anguish, Matthew 27:45-46; I Timothy 2:5.
V. The fifth word – suffering, John 19:28-29; Isaiah 53:5.
VI. The sixth word – atonement, John 19:30; Hebrews 10:10;
VII. The seventh word – commitment to God, Luke 23:46;