Today is Good Friday which is the beginning of Easter weekend. Easter is probably the most important celebration in the Christian faith because it showcases and remembers the actions of our Savior and why He came to Earth. While the death of Christ on the cross would signal the end of Christ’s Earthly Ministry, it did not signal the end of Christ’s mission as He would appear to many people in a period of forty days until His ascension into Heaven.
All of this is important but for this article, I want to focus on the words of Christ while He was on the cross. The words of Christ are significant to our understanding of why He came to Earth and who God is. English Minister Alexander McLaren explained of the cross: “The cross is the center of the world’s history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. The testimony of Christ was the spirit of prophecy, and the growing power of Jesus is the spirit of history.”
Galatians 6:14 reminds us “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The important message of the cross cannot be understated and is unlike any other historical event. It was a true sacrifice that was made willingly and without this sacrifice, the fate of each and every man would be completely different as there wouldn’t be two options but one. Franklin Graham explains as such, “It was Christ who willingly went to the cross, and it was our sins that took him there.”
There are three different events that I want to focus on because the words of Christ in these examples reveal so much more about who we are to strive to be and should desire to be like. The first moment places Christ on the cross in excruciating amount of pain and while He was innocent and had committed no sins and was being punished for our wickedness and the sins of all people both past and present, Christ does not shout words of bitterness but of forgiveness: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
In the moment of His greatest pain, Christ revealed just how much God He is and there should be no doubt after this. There have been many moments in my life when I had an opportunity to forgive or get even and it’s our human nature to desire to get even, or to have the last word, but Christ did not have such desires and this is how we are to live. Another important moment on this day came a bit later when Christ tells a thief who was guilty of a various crimes, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The man that was next to Christ was being justly punished for his crimes but because he asked for forgiveness, it was granted to him.
The forgiveness was not offered to him by this world but by Christ. Again, we see the human nature of man and yes, this man was guilty of great crimes against man but God does not look at things the way we do. Indeed, this man was a common thief and had wasted his life on petty crime but God looks at the heart of the man. This man’s heart was not in the right place most of the time but was made right when he believed in our Lord. Although this moment was a simple story or perhaps, one that very few look at, it should give each of us hope because each individual person has been where this thief was but because of Christ, we do not have to live or die there.
Last but not least is the final act. When we read the story of Christ on the cross, we notice how He did not accept any drink but by the end of the ordeal, He muttered the words these words: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28). After these words, scripture explains how Christ received a spunge with vinegar and then He explained that all things were finished: “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. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
There is so much about this day and the events that surrounded it that must be remembered including the words of our Lord. We cannot simply push the Bible aside and think that we can know our Lord without it and we can learn much about a man if we listen to the words that come out of His mouth: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11). Finally, earlier in Matthew it is written, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
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