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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries


The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 08/17/08
Our Lord's sayings on the Cross.
In the dispensation of the Hypostatic union, we have been noting that the most dramatic exhibition of the character and nature of God is revealed by the divine love and divine omnipotence in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are going to focus on the end of the dispensation of the Hypostatic-union by noting the sayings or phrases of our Lord when He was on the Cross.
The first phrase:
And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (LUK 23:33-34)
The Lord prayed for their forgiveness before He was judged for their sins. These are the same people that had slapped Him, beaten Him, spit upon Him, lied about Him, ridiculed Him and scourged Him! These were the very ones who cried out, "crucify Him, crucify Him." Yet the first thing Jesus said on the Cross was a prayer for His enemies. He opened His public ministry with a prayer (LUK 3:21), and He closed His public ministry with prayer.
Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, " You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." (LUK 3:21-22)
The Father would remain well-pleased with His Son, and yet at the Cross He would have to forsake Him for our sake. At this point our Lord could no longer minister to the poor, needy, the sick, lame and blind, for He was now confined to a Cross. Our Lord could not come down from the Cross, and at the same time provide for our so great a salvation. This should be a great encouragement to you as a believer, as you meditate on these words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." When our Lord cried, "Father, forgive them," He was praying for the lost, for those who were bound for hell. The first of the seven great cries on the Cross had no direct reference to Himself. It was, "Father, forgive them."
Though there is an implication to the cruelties He experienced, please notice that He does not say, "I forgive them." That is taken for granted. He didn't focus in on the fact that they were doing any wrong to Him, but rather to His Father. They were insulting the Father by not honoring the Son.
In order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (JOH 5:23)
The cry, "Father, forgive them," is an unselfish cry as though He was not even suffering Himself. If there had ever been a time in the life of the Lord Jesus Chris when He might have confined His prayer to Himself, it would seem to be now, while on the Cross. However, the Lord began His prayer on the Cross by pleading for others. We see His soul of compassion as He was being crucified! This unselfishness is something we are told to have as well:
Do not merely be regarding your own personal interests, but also for the personal interests of others. Keep on thinking this [doctrine] within yourselves which was also resident in Christ Jesus," (PHI 2:4-5)
This prayer wasn't just for others, but it was for His cruelest enemies. It was a prayer for those who were murdering Him. It was a prayer which included the Scribes and Pharisees, Pilate and Herod, the Jews and Gentiles. If we knew nothing more of Him but this one prayer, we should honor and respect Him for it. The first major point which we see on the Cross in the character of His intercession is graciousness. Those for whom our Lord prayed did not deserve His prayer. They had done nothing which was worthy of being prayed for. They were undeserving individuals who had conspired to put Him to death. They had lied about Him, accused Him falsely, and were crucifying Him. They were utterly undeserving of a single good word from the Savior. They didn't ask Him to pray for them, it was the last thought in their minds to say, "Intercede for us!" He prays for those who reject His word, and therefore think how much more for those who love Him and His word.
Notice another principle in His prayer. In LUK 23:34, when He said "Father, forgive them; [notice what He said next] for they do not know what they are doing." He actually found something good to say about His enemies. "They do not know what they are doing" were His words. It's almost as if He recognized that they were all simply pawns of the devil. He has the same attitude today. He knows our precise condition at this moment, and the exact state of our heart with regard to the suffering, and the temptation that we may be facing. Even more than that, He foresees the trials, and the temptations which are awaiting us. In His intercession He prays for us. Our Lord's prayer also brings out another very important factor - the blindness of the human heart (mind): "They know not what they do." Those who crucified Him were ignorant of doctrine. They did not recognize the Savior of the world. They did not realize that here was the One who was being judged for their sins, taking their place, and providing their salvation. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ had made it clear many times. There was no excuse for their ignorance. The light of the glorious Gospel had shined upon them. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His grace, was not willing that any should perish, and He prayed for them. However, the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2CO 4:3-4)
Man's greatest need is the need for forgiveness and cleansing of sin. The penalty of sin is death is spiritual death. He took our place, He was judged for our sins, and today His prayer on the Cross is still being answered, as many come to Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior!
The second phrase.
And one of the criminals who were hanged {there} was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" (LUK 23:39)
Both of the thieves turned against the Lord Jesus. Both blasphemed against Him, but, one of the thieves repented, he completely changed his attitude, to use the word in its proper connotation. He had a complete reversal of mental attitude not in regard to sin, but in regard to the Person of Jesus Christ:
And one of the criminals who were hanged {there} was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (LUK 23:39-43)
He recognized that Jesus Christ was a perfect Man. He also recognized His deity, for he used the title for deity "kurios." There was nothing he could do for his salvation! He was nailed upon a cross. He could not join anyone's church or go through the rite of baptism! He could not weep in front of an altar, nor could he raise his hand or walk down an aisle! But he turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for help, and he went to exactly the right Person! He also recognized that Jesus had a kingdom. The Lord Jesus responded to this statement of faith by promising him a place in Paradise or Abraham's Bosom, the abode of all Old Testament saints. These two thieves on the cross picture the world today. One believed in Jesus Christ, and was eternally saved. The other rejected Him, and was eternally lost. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (JOH 3:36). The world is divided by its attitude toward Jesus Christ. Your attitude toward Him determines your eternal future!
The third phrase.
Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the {wife} of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" (JOH 19:25-26
Imagine the anguish in a mother's heart, watching her Son slowly and painfully die. She must have been torn with terrible grief. The Lord Jesus Christ never called her "mother." He always addressed her as "woman." He sought to emphasize that she was the mother of His humanity, but she was not the mother of God! Anticipating some of the great dangers that would come in the future relative to her place in the Plan of God, He was always careful to avoid the title of "mother." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own {household.} (JOH 19:27)
Here are the words of responsibility. (EXO 20:12). In His dying moment, when He was in the midst of terrible agony and pain, He took time to think of the one who was the mother of His humanity and to make provision for her. We see here a beautiful picture, even in the end, of how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law in every detail. Every negative, as well as positive, aspect of the Law was met by the Lord Jesus Christ; "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.” MAT 5:17-18)
Today we are not under the Law. Christianity begins where the Law stopped.
That does not mean we are to be lawless. Jesus, in fulfilling the Law, made provision for us to move on into the supergrace life. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance [self- control]: against such there is no law (GAL 5:22-23). The very character of Christ in His humanity can be produced in us by the Holy Spirit when He controls the life. We are no longer under the Law, but under grace. Grace is God's provision of the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer. The Holy Spirit controls when the believer is filled with the Spirit through the use of 1JO 1:9.
The fourth phrase
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (MAR 15:34)
These words, found in Matthew and Mark, as well as in Psalm 22:1, were literally screamed. In this cry, Jesus Christ made it clear that the God the Father with whom He had eternal and unbroken fellowship had to break that fellowship at this moment. Thus we know immediately that this is the time when Jesus Christ "bore our sins in his own body on the tree" (1PE 2:24), this was the unspeakable agony of the Cross, the spiritual death prophesied in PSA 22:1. The fourth cry indicated that He was being judged for us. This is why the Father had to turn His back upon Him. Our sin separated Him from the His Father, even as we were separated from them. The wrath of God deals deadly blows. One was meant for your sins. Jesus Christ stepped in front of you and took the blow. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (ROM 5:8-9). In the eternal state, there will be one resurrection body that has scars on it, it will be His.
Many misinterpret out Lord's sufferings as an appeasement to the wrath of the Father but this is totally wrong. Jesus Christ did not appease the wrath of an angry God, He satisfied the perfect justice of a holy and loving God. For God so loved the world (JOH 3:16). Everything in God's nature, every fiber of His justice and righteousness, rails against sin. God can have nothing to do with sin. All that God is is against sin, and Christ was made a sin offering. Why did Jesus have to die? Death is the wages of sin, and He had no sin. He had to die because Jesus is the only Savior, and His death is His only saving act. His death was necessary, and it was made so by the character of God. This was not an angry or vengeful God. In fact, just the opposite, for God the Father sent His beloved Son as the Lamb without blemish to be poured out for us sinners. The resulting propitiation is the basis for God being merciful and gracious toward us.
The fifth phrase.
The fifth cry on the Cross can be identified by the word suffering, After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, *said, "I am thirsty" (JOH 19:28). The thirst of Jesus indicates His humanity, for deity does not thirst. Again it focuses our attention on the importance of the humanity of Christ, for if He were deity alone He could not suffer the penalty of sin. This saying of the Savior, "I thirst," followed the three hours of darkness, during which the light of God's countenance had been withdrawn from the Lord. This cry, then, tells of the intensity of what He had suffered, the awful severity of the conflict through which He had just passed. Even though His sufferings were like no other, great as was His  thirst was, it was not desire for the relief of His body that now opened His lips. Far different, far higher, was the motive which prompted Him. The very fact that He did now "thirst" evidences His perfect submission. He that had caused water to flow from the smitten rock for the refreshment of Israel in the wilderness, had the same infinite resources at His disposal now that He was on the Cross. In the volume of that Book which expressed the will of God, it was written that He should thirst! Oh, that we might have the same attitude toward the Scripture! That we might have the joy and the realization and the reverence, the absorption and the interest that the Lord Jesus Christ had in the Scripture!
He simply says, "I thirst," the vinegar is extended and the prophecy is fulfilled. He had hung on that cross for six hours, and had passed through suffering un­paralleled: nevertheless His mind was perfectly clear and His memory entirely unimpaired. He had before Him, with perfect distinctness, the whole truth of God. He knew the entire scope of the Messianic prophecies. He overlooked nothing.
The sixth phrase.
The sixth saying on the Cross can be described by the word victory.
When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (JOH 19:30).
When the Lord Jesus Christ said "it is finished" He evidenced the fact that salvation was complete. Nothing could be taken away from it and above all, nothing could be added to it. It was purely a matter of GRACE. No one has ever deserved this salvation, and there never will be any member of the human race who deserves something as wonderful and as marvelous and as precious as the blood of Jesus Christ, which, as a representative analogy of His spiritual death, cleanses from all sin. Consequently, when He said, "It is finished", He made it very clear that to add anything to the finished work of salvation is sheer blasphemy! That is why the Scripture reiterates over and over, "He that believes in the Son has eternal life." "It is finished" is a single word in the original Greek “tetelestai!” It was the shortest, and yet the fullest of His seven sayings on the Cross. Eternity will be needed to fully understand all that it contains. All things had been done which the law of God required; all things established which prophecy predicted; all things brought to pass which the types foreshadowed; all things accomplished which the Father had given Him to do; all things performed which were needed for our redemption. Nothing was left undone.
The seventh phrase.
The seventh saying on the Cross can be described by the word contentment.
LUK 23:46  And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." And having said this, He breathed His last.
(LUK 23:46)
When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, it was voluntary.
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." (JOH 10:17-18)
Upon His physical death, His human spirit went into the presence of the Father, His soul went into Hades to a compartment known as paradise and His body went into the grave to wait for that glorious moment some three days later when the body would be rejoined by the soul and the spirit, and Jesus Christ would rise from the dead - literally and bodily. The seventh cry was the beginning of the end; and yet the end was a new beginning, for Jesus Christ would arise from the grave in resurrection body, walk among men for a short time, then ascend into the presence of the Father to sit at His right hand as our great High Priest and make intercession for us forever. The Father has been propitiated by the spiritual death of His Son. Jesus, through spiritual death, fulfilled the analogy to the blood sacrifice of the Old Testament; He was then ready to dismiss His Spirit. All references to the blood of Christ refer to His spiritual rather than to His physical death.
So these are the seven sayings of Christ on the cross.
The first dealt with the word forgiveness for His enemies.
The second dealt with salvation (LUK 23:39-42).
The third dealt with the word compassion (JOH 19:26-27).
The fourth dealt with anguish (MAT 27:46).
The fifth can be identified by the word suffering, JOH 19:28 "I am thirsty."
The sixth can be described by the word victory, JOH 19:30 "It is finished!"
The seventh and final saying can be described by the word contentment, LUK 23:46 "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit."
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