Christ's Words from the Cross by Charles Spurgeon:
One of my favourite preachers and authors is Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers. This old Baptist minister said, “It was most fitting that every word of our Lord upon the cross should be gathered up and preserved. (They) have frequently been the subject of devout meditation.” As we're heading into Easter weekend, and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, I want to encourage you to take some time to meditate upon the words that the Lord spoke on the Cross. There is so much encouragement we can gain from each statement Jesus made. These devotional thoughts are the words of Charles Spurgeon…
THE FIRST WORD – FORGIVENESS: (FROM LUKE 23:34)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
OUR LORD WAS at that moment enduring the first pains of crucifixion; the executioners had just then driven the nails through his hands and feet. He must have been, moreover, greatly depressed, and brought into a condition of extreme weakness by the agony of the night in Gethsemane, and by the scourgings and cruel mockings which he had endured all through the morning...Yet neither the weakness of the past, nor the pain of the present, could prevent him from continuing in prayer…Beloved, what an example our Lord herein presents to us. Let us continue in prayer so long as our heart beats; let no excess of suffering drive us away from the throne of grace, but rather let it drive us closer to it. More remarkable, however, is the fact that our Lord's prayer to his Father was not for himself…See ye not what a great heart is here revealed. What a soul of compassion was in the Crucified.
As Christ was, so his church is to be in this world. Christ came into this world not to be ministered unto, but to minister, not to be honoured, but to save others. His church, when she understands her work, will perceive that she is not here to gather to herself wealth or honour, or to seek any temporal aggrandisement and position; she is here unselfishly to live, and if need be, unselfishly to die for the deliverance of the lost sheep, the salvation of lost men. I believe that the more the church of God strains after, before God, the forgiveness of sinners, and the more she seeks in her life prayer to teach sinners what sin is, and what the blood of Christ is, and what the hell that must follow if sin be not washed out, and what the heaven is which will be ensured to all those who are cleansed from sin, the more she keeps to this the better.
THE SECOND WORD – SALVATION: (FROM LUKE 23:39-44)
“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.”
The story of the salvation of the dying thief is a standing instance of the power of Christ to save, and of his abundant willingness to receive all that come to him, in whatever plight they may be. Once more, this man whom Christ saved at last was a man who could do no good works. If salvation had been by good works, he could not have been saved; for he was fastened hand and foot to the tree of doom. It was all over with him as to any act or deed of righteousness. He could say a good word or two, but that was all; he could perform no acts; and if his salvation had depended on an active life of usefulness, certainly he never could have been saved. He was a sinner also, who could not exhibit a long-enduring repentance for sin, for he had so short a time to live. He could not have experienced bitter convictions, lasting over months and years, for his time was measured by moments, and he was on the borders of the grave. His end was very near, and yet the Saviour could save him, and did save him so perfectly, that the sun went not down till he was in paradise with Christ. Furthermore, know that if you have believed in Jesus you are prepared for heaven. It may be that you will have to live on earth twenty, or thirty, or forty years to glorify Christ; and, if so, be thankful for the privilege; but if you do not live another hour, your instantaneous death would not alter the fact that he that believeth in the Son of God is ready for heaven. The question never is whether a death-bed repentance is accepted if it be sincere: the question is—Is it sincere? If it be so, if the man dies five minutes after his first act of faith, he is as safe as if he had served the Lord for fifty years. If your faith is true, if you die one moment after you have believed in Christ, you will be admitted into paradise, even if you shall have enjoyed no time in which to produce good works and other evidences of grace.
THE THIRD WORD – HUMANITY OF CHRIST: (FROM JOHN 19:25-27)
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Woman, he is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “She is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Sad, sad spectacle. Now was fulfilled the word of Simeon to Mary, "Yes, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Did the Saviour mean, as he gave a glance to John, "Woman, thou art losing one Son; but yonder stands another, who will be a son to thee in my absence"? "Woman, behold thy son." "Take her as thy mother, stand thou in my place, care for her as I have cared for her." Those who love Christ best shall have the honour of taking care of his church and of his poor. Never say of any poor relative or friend, the widow or the fatherless, "They are a great burden to me." Oh, no. Say, "They are a great honour to me; my Lord has entrusted them to my care." John thought so; let us think so. Jesus selected the disciple he loved best to take his mother under his care.
THE FOURTH WORD – ANGUISH: (FROM MATTHEW 27:46)
At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord. You shall measure the height of his love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of his grief, if that can ever be known. See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. This was a very remarkable desertion. It is not the way of God to leave either his sons or his servants. His saints, when they come to die, in their great weakness and pain, find him near. They are made to sing because of the presence of God: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me." Dying saints have clear visions of the living God. Our observation has taught us that if the Lord be away at other times, he is never absent from his people in the article of death I remember, also, that our blessed Lord had lived in unbroken fellowship with God, and to be forsaken was a new grief to him. He had never known what the dark was till then: his life had been lived in the light of God. Do you not think that the amazement of our Lord, when he was "made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21), led him thus to cry out? For such a sacred and pure being to be made a sin-offering was an amazing experience. Sin was laid on him, and he was treated as if he had been guilty, though he had personally never sinned; and now the infinite horror of rebellion against the most holy God fills his holy soul, the unrighteousness of sin breaks his heart, and he starts back from it, crying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
He bore the sinner's sin, and he had to be treated, therefore, as though he were a sinner, though sinner be could never be. With his own full consent he suffered as though he had committed the transgressions which were laid on him.
THE FIFTH WORD – SUFFERING: (FROM JOHN 19:28-29)
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, “I thirst.”
Jesus said, "I thirst," and this is the complaint of a human being. And yet, though he was Lord of all he had so fully taken upon himself the form of a servant and was so perfectly made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that he cried with fainting voice, "I thirst." Jesus was proved to be really man, because he suffered the pains which belong to manhood. While thus we admire his condescension let our thoughts also turn with delight to his sure sympathy: for if Jesus said, "I thirst," then he knows all our frailties and woes. The next time we are in pain or are suffering depression of spirit we will remember that our Lord understands it all, for he has had practical, personal experience of it.
THE SIXTH WORD – VICTORY: (FROM JOHN 19:30)
Jesus said, “It is finished.”
This shout of triumph rings with all the freshness and force of when He spoke it. The satisfaction He rendered to the justice of God was finished. But next, the Savior meant that the satisfaction which He rendered to the justice of God was finished. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever—by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup, Hell was in it, the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God.
Once again—when He said, “It is finished,” Jesus had totally destroyed the power of Satan, of sin and of death. The Champion had entered the lists to do battle for our soul’s redemption against all our foes. He met Sin. Horrible, terrible, all-but omnipotent Sin nailed Him to the Cross. But in that deed, Christ nailed Sin also to the tree. There they both did hang together—Sin and Sin’s Destroyer. Sin destroyed Christ and by that destruction Christ destroyed Sin.
THE SEVENTH WORD – CONTENTMENT: (FROM LUKE 23:46-49)
“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man.” And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.”
I couldn’t find a sermon Charles Spurgeon preached on this last Scripture, so let me close today with a comment of my own. In light of the other words that Jesus spoke on the Cross – that Jesus was forsaken by God so we will never be, and that the work of salvation was finished, this final word offers the Christian encouragement and hope. When we die, it will be with the same confidence and assurance that Jesus had – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” I don’t have to wonder or worry, but I have a promise from God, that on the day I die, I KNOW that I will be in Heaven with my Lord.
Like Charles Spurgeon said, “As to my sin, I hear its harsh accusings no more when I hear Jesus cry, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" I know that I deserve the deepest hell at the hand of God's vengeance; but I am not afraid. He will never forsake me, for he forsook his Son on my behalf. I shall not suffer for my sin, for Jesus has suffered to the full in my place”
Praying that you would experience the resurrected Christ this weekend...
Pastor Chris Jordan