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Seven statements from the Cross

During Jesus’ time on the cross, the Bible records seven statements which he made. Each gives us a look into the heart of God.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). God’s eager desire is to forgive. That’s why Jesus died!

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Spoken to one of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus, in response to his request to enter heaven. Can you imagine? A man who is being executed has the nerve to ask for forgiveness, to ask for entrance to heaven? Surprising, to say the least. But Jesus’ answer is even more surprising, “Today you will be with me in paradise!” In short, Jesus says, “Yes!” God wants EVERYONE in heaven. That is why he has forgiven everyone through Jesus, no matter how badly they’ve sinned, no matter what they’ve done. It’s never too late. By trusting in Jesus our Savior, we will be with him in paradise.

“Dear woman, here is your son, … Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27). Jesus gave one of his disciples—John—responsibility for Mary, Jesus’ mother, to care for her as if she were his own mother. Your God cares for you; not only in regards to spiritual, eternal matters, but also in regards to the things of this world.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Darkness covered the world as Jesus said this. While on the cross Jesus was suffering the full punishment for sin, which meant that he had to suffer the pains of hell. Indeed God the Father turned his back on God the Son; God punished him fully for all sins. Because Jesus suffered the pains of hell, you and I never need to.

“I am thirsty” (John 19:28). Through all of this, Jesus remained not only true God, but also truly human. So, he understands every aspect of our lives, even down to the little details, like being thirsty.

“It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word was used by shopkeepers. They wrote it on an invoice when it was paid in full. So, what “bill” has been “paid?” The bill, the invoice, for your sins, my sins, the sins of the entire world. Jesus paid it—in FULL! Not one sin remains left to be paid. Jesus paid it all. When Jesus died on the cross, he secured the forgiveness of sins for us. But what made that sacrifice so valuable? Jesus lived his life perfectly. He fully obeyed everything God, his Father, wants us to obey. Jesus lived under the laws of God perfectly for us!

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus died in confidence. Because the sins of the world had been paid in full through his complete sacrifice, he could simply entrust himself into the hands of his heavenly Father. His perfect fulfillment of the law is credited to us; his innocent death on the cross assures us of the forgiveness of our sins. Because Jesus paid the price for our sins, when our last day comes, you and I will also be able to close our eyes in confidence.

Certain Hope

“If I were to say to you—I am absolutely, positively, guaranteed sure, no doubt about it, that when this life is over I am going to be with God in heaven forever—what would you say to that?”

“How can you, how can anyone be so sure?”

“Tell me, what makes you say that?”

“What makes you sure there even is a heaven, or for that matter, a hell? And how can you or anyone be so sure of going to heaven?”

It’s all because of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He came into this world and lived a perfect life, something God expected of you, me, and everyone.

He says, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

Not a one of us has measured up to God’s expectations. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But, Jesus Christ did measure up and he did it for me, for you, for everyone, as our substitute. He did what we couldn’t do in trying to live a perfect life. And God accepts what Jesus did—for us.

The evidence of this is discovered in his sufferings, death, and resurrection. On the cross Jesus endured the punishment for the sins of the whole world, the innocent for the guilty—that means you and me. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). And God accepted the sufferings and death of Jesus as payment in full for all our sins and wrongdoings.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is God’s declaration that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior, the way to eternal life. “Jesus Christ our Lord was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:5).

Though we all must die because we are sinners, trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we will live again in heaven and rise again to eternal life. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me though he dies yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

This is what I believe. This is my certain hope—all because of Jesus Christ.  And it can be yours too, through faith in Jesus.

Sharing Good News

His life, torture. His neighbors, tormented. A man possessed.

Demons controlled his body. When strong men tried to subdue him, he fought and won. When officials tried to chain him, demonic power shattered iron. He screamed day and night and cut his flesh with rocks.

This man saw Jesus.

The demons saw Jesus.

The demons realized they were in trouble. Jesus drove the demons out of that tortured man.

This man was overwhelmed joy! He loved his Savior. He wanted to be with Jesus twenty-four hours a day. Jesus was about to leave. The man asked if he could come along.

Jesus says, “No.”

Cruel? Uncaring? Not at all. This man was specially qualified for a special job. Jesus said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

So many knew what that man had been like. What a unique opportunity for this new follower of Jesus to talk to the people who knew him best. His changed life was a living witness to the power of his Savior and the love of his Lord.

Your Lord has done amazing things for you. As the Holy Spirit leads you to be confident that in Jesus your sins are forgiven and eternal life is yours, you too want to follow Jesus.

“Can I come along?” you may ask. Jesus says to you, “You are specially qualified for a special job. Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.”

Has the Lord placed very close to you opportunities to share the sobering news of sin and the calming reality of forgiveness? Do you have family members or coworkers, neighbors or friends who think that heaven can be theirs because of their good actions? Do you know people who are burdened by guilt and whose lives are a never-ending attempt to escape an accusing conscience?

You have words of divine warning. You have words of eternal comfort.

You know of ears which need to hear.

May the Lord give you patience, wisdom, confidence, and joy as you share the mercy God has shown to you.

Sin

Sinners.

There are some very bad people in the world. Can you name some?

A terrorist. A child-molester. Your next-door neighbor who’s a jerk.

How about you? Are you a very bad person?

Some people in Jesus’ day were thinking of a very bad person. A woman. They caught her in the act of adultery. Bad, very bad.

A crowd brought her to Jesus. “Look, here’s a bad sinner. We think she should be punished. We think she should be stoned.”

Jesus asks the crowd, “If any of you is without sin, let him throw the first stone.”

No stones were thrown.

Wait a second. So it’s fine to have sex outside of marriage? Is Jesus in favor of adultery?

Jesus didn’t say the woman was right. Jesus was showing that the woman was no different.

Often we look at people as bad and good. Our mistake is not when we label someone bad. Our mistake is when we label anyone good. Our biggest mistake is when we label ourselves good. There is no one who is good. To earn a ticket to heaven, God expects not a life that is better than most. God expects perfection. Absolute perfection.

Who of us is without sin?

I am the bad person. I should be stoned, eternally punished by a just God.

The woman caught in adultery should have been stoned. She was guilty. She did not deny that.

Listen. Jesus says to her, “I do not condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin.”

How can God say that? He must punish sin. He did, by punishing his son Jesus. Jesus announces to this woman, “I’ve forgiven you. You are free.”

As a woman who knew she was bad, but witnessed the undeserved love of her Savior, she was free from sin. She was free from guilt. She wanted to leave her life of sin.

There are some very bad people in this world. You and I.

Thank Jesus that he came into the world to save sinners—you and me.

Eternal Life

“If you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” Her brother, dead. Her friend, too late.

Martha had buried her brother Lazarus four days before. Her friend Jesus had just arrived. She knew Jesus could have healed him. She knew Jesus could do anything, even now.

Jesus says to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answers, “I know he will, at the last day.”

Jesus says to her, “I am the resurrection.”

Resurrection. To rise again. To have fallen in death and to stand up again alive. That’s impossible. For man it is impossible. For God nothing is impossible.

Jesus is God. Jesus is the resurrection.

He goes to the tomb of Lazarus. He sees the sorrow that death brings. He watches the tears that you and I cry at the death of one we love. Jesus breaks down. Drops run down his cheeks.

Death is an enemy. Death is the consequence of disobedience. When God created the world, people were made never to die. Unfortunately people disobeyed, and now they die, a punishment.

Jesus wept when he saw the pain human disobedience had brought.

Jesus took on the pain human disobedience had brought. He walked straight to the tomb. He insisted the stone be rolled away. He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

Jesus is resurrection. Death was powerless before his almighty word. Lazarus came out.

Then Jesus took on the pain human disobedience had brought again. He willingly went to his own tomb, dying but not for any sin of his own. He endured punishment for sins you and I and Lazarus committed. Our substitute. Facing death. Unafraid.

Because Jesus is resurrection. On the third day Jesus raised himself. He was delivered over to death because of our sins. He was raised to life because we have been declared innocent of all sin.

You are forgiven! Believe it. Know that he who believes in Jesus will live, even though he dies.

Jesus took on death and won. Jesus is resurrection.

Jesus took on your death and won. Jesus is your resurrection.