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Psalm 22:14 gives us insight as to what Christ was thinking at that time of His crucifixion—"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
God instituted the Passover observance as He was preparing to deliver Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12:5-11). Before hastily eating the Passover meal the Israelites were instructed to put the lamb’s blood on their doorposts. They showed their obedience by doing this, and the “destroyer” passed over those houses, saving the lives of the firstborn.
The meal, the lamb and the blood of this first Passover were all symbols pointing to Christ, who fulfilled these symbols. His broken body and blood is our Passover, but He is also our Messiah! Our sins were covered by His shed blood, and He also came to offer the gift of the Holy Spirit to those whom the Father called.
This brings us to Christ’s last words before His death. Luke’s Gospel account contains three of these sayings, John’s Gospel has another three, and Matthew and Mark each recorded one.
1. “Father, forgive them”
The first is found in Luke 23:34 —“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
Roman crucifixions were so commonplace that they often became a source of entertainment. Although Christ had been scourged, was covered in blood and on the edge of physical shock, the Roman soldiers were gambling for His tunic, to make money by selling His clothing. John’s account tells us the soldiers had divided Christ’s other clothes amongst themselves, but decided to cast lots for His tunic (John 19:23-24), fulfilling the prophecy in Psalms 22:18.
In considering these words of Christ as He hung dying, we should remember the last time we asked God to forgive us because we didn’t think about what we were doing, and be thankful Christ died for our sins—including the ones committed in ignorance.
2. “You shall be with me in Paradise”
The second statement was to the penitent thief: “I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). Some use this verse as proof we go to heaven upon death, but a number of verses tell us this is not the case (John 3:13, Acts 2:29, Ecclesiastes 9:5).
A better translation of John 3:13 would be: “I say to you today (comma), you shall be with me in Paradise.” We know this is accurate, because Christ Himself did not return to Heaven until more than three days after making this statement. But as he was dying, Christ was giving hope to a sinner, telling him he would have the opportunity to be in God’s Kingdom.
In many ways, this statement made by Christ applies to anyone who is repentant The word, “Paradise” can also be translated “Eden”. What mankind threw away in rejecting God in the Garden of Eden, God still seeks to restore to mankind. God has not walked away from us and wants a relationship with His Creation.
3. “Behold, your son”
John’s Gospel account tells us that only Christ’s mother, Mary, her sister Mary (Salome—the mother of James and John), Mary Magdalene and John were not ashamed to be with Christ at His crucifixion. His stepfather, Joseph, had died long ago, and his step brothers and sisters were nowhere to be seen.
As he was dying, He saw His mother and John, and said to Mary, “...behold your son” (John 19:25-27) and told John, the beloved apostle: “Behold your mother.” Even in His dying moments, Jesus was concerned about others and saw to it His mother would be cared for during the remainder of her lifetime.
4. “Why have you forsaken Me?”
As Christ was about to die He cried out, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), quoting from Psalms 22:1. Christ became a man and lived a sinless life. As our Creator He paid for the sins of all mankind through His shed blood, taking upon Himself the penalty we deserved for our sin. He bore our sin so that we could take on the righteousness of God (1 Peter 2:24).
5. “I thirst”
Christ also stated “I thirst” (John 19:28). Psalms 22:15, once again, gives us His thoughts in prophecy: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”
It was prophesied He would be given this sour wine to drink (Psalms 69:21), and a sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine drunk by the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus’ lips. But He refused to drink it (Mark 15:23).
Certainly, Christ would have been very thirsty from the loss of blood, but Christ may also have been expressing a spiritual thirst: “…if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” (John 7:37). We are to desire to drink in that spiritual drink.
6. “It is finished”
Jesus’ body was now very close to death. This realization caused Him to announce: “It is finished” (John 19:30). This statement did not express resignation, but was a statement of success! The Greek translated “finished” is tetelestai and means “accomplished”—“It is accomplished.” His mission of atonement, which He had known from prehistory He would accomplish for mankind from prehistory had been completed..He accomplished the Father’s will by being our Passover.
7. “I commit My Spirit”
Christ then uttered His seventh and last cry: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46, quoting Psalms 31:5), highlighting the complete love and trust He had in the Father. Christ, with His final breath looked forward to the oneness He and the Father would once again have in glory. Through His death, we can take part in the love and unity the Father and the Son have for each other and for us (John 17:20-26).
Jesus Christ is not a crucified, dead Messiah. He lives forever as the Son of God sitting at the Father’s right hand now. He is our Mediator, our Advocate and our Intercessor. He is now our perfect High Priest, our Elder Brother and our Passover.
United News (Mar-Apr 2020)