Cross-Words Cross-Thinking

Have you ever wondered what our Savior was thinking as He hung on the Cross? What Jesus was thinking is the purpose of this study. We will look at the Cross-words as well as the Cross-thinking of Christ.

What a terrible thing to be nailed to a Cross. How could anyone nail another person to a cross? How could Jesus possibly bear the pain? He must have loved us an awful lot to suffer such tortuous agony. 

The Old Testament records the actual thinking of Christ on the Cross in Psalm 22 which is called the “crucifixion and resurrection chapter” by scholars. It is interesting to note that the thinking of Christ precedes the most revered Psalm of all … the 23rd Psalm. You may wish to read both chapters as pre-conditioning to our study.

The Book of Psalms was written about one thousand years before the incarnation of Christ. The fact that the words and the thinking of Christ on the cross were written in Scripture over a thousand years before Christ went to the Cross proves the Deity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible.

 A Summary Of The Crucifixion Events

(After the following summary we will look at each statement in detail).

1). Arrival at Golgotha (Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33; John 19:17).

2). Christ refuses the stupefying drink (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23).

3). Jesus is crucified between two thieves (Matthew 27:35-38; Mark 15:24-28; Luke 23: 33-38; John 19:18).

4). Christ utters His first words from the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34).

5). The Roman soldiers cast lots for His garments (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23).

6). The Jews, the Romans and the two thieves on either side, mocked Christ and a sign is placed above His head (Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35, 39-43).

7). Christ utters His second cry from the cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

8). The third cry, “Women behold your son” (John 19:26), “Behold your mother” (John 19:27).

9). The darkness for three hours (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44).

10). The fourth cry, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46, 47; Mark 15: 34-36).

11). The fifth cry, “I am thirsty” John 19:28).

12). The sixth cry, “It is finished,” (John 19:30).

13). The seventh cry, “Father, into your hands I commit (dismiss) my spirit,” (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30).

A Closer Look At Each Statement

The first recorded words of Jesus Christ after He was nailed to the cross were for the very people who were crucifying Him “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34). These words are so amazing! They are so contrary to our human nature. We all tend to harbor an unforgiving spirit. Christ, hanging on a cross, said to His heavenly Father “forgive them.” 

Our Lords second statement; “Truly, I say to you today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). This conversion of the thief on the Cross was by God’s grace and is a perfect example of salvation without works. Just remember: If one person can be saved without any works or merit, then all those who come to Christ as they are will be saved. This is Grace — unmerited (something we don’t earn) favor. 

This thief could not and did not work for his salvation – he was nailed to a cross, he could perform nothing. He simply believed (Luke 23:41, 42). This is a perfect example of repentance – the thief went from insults and mocking Jesus (disbelief), to faith in Jesus.

Christ was placed between two dying thieves to illustrate that Christ is the only mediator between God and man (2 Timothy 2:3-6). “And He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37). Jesus Christ is identified with these men in condemnation nailed to a cross. One of these men is identified with Christ in salvation while the other chose not to believe and remain condemned. This is what life is all about – condemned humanity and the redeeming Christ. “Choose ye this day whom you will follow.”

Our Lord’s third statement from the Cross is found in John 19:26-27, “Woman, behold your son … behold your mother.” Jesus Christ in His agony looked down from the Cross and saw His mother crying and looking helplessly up at Him. Jesus in excruciating pain comforted his mother in her hour of despair. He also made sure she would be secure by placing her welfare in the hand of John His beloved disciple. Mary’s heart was in such pain, but her Son gave her peace and assurance that would sustain her for the rest of her life.

Please note that in His first three statements from the Cross, our Savior’s concern is for others. He is in excruciating pain and His thoughts are for others. Our Savior nailed to a cross was beaten beyond recognition before He ever went to the Cross. (Be sure to reference Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 26:67-68; 27:27-30; John 19: 5, 14; 1 Peter 2:24-25).

In Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 we read: “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken (abandoned) Me?” This fourth statement heard from the Cross is perhaps the least understood of the seven statements. When our Lord took the outpouring of the sins of the world, He became separated from the Father. This separation is beyond description and it is where every unbeliever will spend eternity – separated from God. If you choose to remain separated from God in this life, God will honor your decision in eternity, for eternity.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” is also found in Psalm 22 and actually gives us more insight as to what was going through our Lord’s mind. The 22nd Psalms is called the “Crucifixion Psalm.” Note also that Psalm 22 ends with “It is finished,” or “He has performed it.” Through this Psalm, David takes us into the mind of Christ as He hung on the Cross. Although these words were a personal expression of anguish by David, they were also a glimpse into the future of Messiah, on the Cross, rejected by his people. He came to his own and his own received Him not (John 1:11).

Here, in the 22nd Psalm, we can know the actual thoughts of our Lord. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” “By day” is referring to the three hours of daylight from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. “By night” is referring to the period between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. This was the three hours of total darkness when God the Father imputed our sins to Christ. This is why the Father did not answer the Son’s plea – He was judging Christ in our place so we could be forgiven and have eternal life through Jesus Christ – this is God’s Gift to us because He loved us. (See John 3:15-18; Romans 3:25, 26.)

Jesus Christ, as God, always had eternal and unbroken fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When sudden darkness came over the land, the Father and the Holy Spirit turned their backs on the Son. We know from these words “Why have you forsaken me,” that this is the time when Jesus Christ “bore our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Just as our personal sin keeps us separated from God, our sins poured out on him separated Jesus from the other two members of the Godhead. These words were literally screamed from the humanity of Christ. The instant our sins hit the humanity of Jesus his human spirit died spiritually (it is impossible for deity to die).

On the Cross, God forsook his son. But God’s Love for His Son never changed! In Isaiah 53:10 we read: “But the lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief, if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” The Father was not angry with Him. Christ was left alone to die alone so that you (the believer) would never be alone. Christ became separated from God so that we (believers) never have to be separated from God again. This is Love.

No man, from Adam to Christ, ever experienced the intimate Love of God the Father in the same way Christ did during His incarnation. But now, because of Christ, each individual believer can experience, first-hand, an intimate relationship with the Father through the Son. Simply receive Christ as your personal Savior by grace through faith – Ephesians 2:8, 9. Then the process of experiencing God’s lovingkindness (grace) can be yours right now, and becomes a life long adventure that carries over into eternity.

The fifth cry of Jesus was “I am thirsty” which is indicative of His humanity because deity does not thirst. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I am thirsty” (John 19:28). “Even as the Son of God, Christ learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Jesus Christ created the world. Jesus Christ turned water into wine. He could have quenched His own thirst even here as He hung nailed to a Cross, but He always chose to be submissive to the Father’s will. Jesus was also fulfilling prophecy because it is written that He would thirst (Psalm 22:15; 69:21). These two verses were the actual thoughts of Christ as He hung on Calvary (See also John 19:29-30.) Notice our Lord’s self-control immediately after the three horrible hours of suffering in total darkness.

Jesus Christ denied Himself so that He would not have to deny you. You must deny yourself and trust the finished work of Christ to be saved. Jesus Christ will deny you if you do not receive Him (John 1:12; Matthew 7:23; 25:41; Luke 13:27). “If any man is thirsty let him come to the Savior and drink” (John 7:37).  Jesus Christ is the water of life (Revelation 21: 6; 22:1; 22:17). Jesus Christ still loved and respected the Scriptures as He hung on the cross. His thinking the whole time on the Cross was “scripture.” 

The sixth cry from the Cross was the greatest proclamation ever spoken since Adam fell in the garden. It is God’s salvation as promised in Genesis 3:15. Read this proclamation for yourself in John 19:30 – “It is finished.” All Scripture was now fulfilled. The sin debt of humanity has been paid! Salvation has been provided by God’s Grace through the suffering of His beloved Son (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Jesus Christ is victorious over sin (John 19:30). Therefore, there is nothing you can do to deliver yourself from God’s wrath. God is not impressed with you or your good deeds or your money. Believe in the Cross-work of Christ and be saved. Jesus Christ has already accomplished your salvation, all you need do is believe to make it a reality (John 3:15-18; 3:36; Acts 16:31).

The seventh and final words found in Luke 23:46: “Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.” After a life of caring for others; a life of torment, sacrifice and suffering; after six illegal trials and unmatched brutality; after enduring the most excruciating death in history; Jesus Christ had provided salvation.

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [voluntarily dismissed His spirit] (John 19:30). “I lay down my life that I might take it up again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself [His own decision]. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17, 18). Jesus Christ paid our sin debt (1 Peter 3: 18-22, see also: John 1:29; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:6 and Colossians 1:22). Salvation is complete! No man can add anything to the completed work of Christ. Only Christ’s work is acceptable to the Father. 

“For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ has the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Paul did not preach Christ the conqueror, or Christ the philosopher. He preached Christ crucified! It was the so-called failure and weakness of the crucifixion that made Jesus Christ the greatest conqueror of all time. He won the greatest victory of all time: He defeated death by rising from the grave, and he paid for your sin – your personal salvation and mine. His victory can be your victory – your salvation. “It is finished” means that your salvation from the wrath of God has been accomplished. All you have to do is believe (John 3:15-18); or reject and perish (John 3:36). 

Today the world searches for heroes. Pro sports are at an all time high in popularity. Spiderman, Batman, Superman are all super-heroes, but they are all substitutes and impostors. They are all foolishness compared to my hero – Jesus Christ! 

Happy Studying! 

Penned Summer/Fall 2006

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