“JESUS’ SURPRISING WORDS FROM THE CROSS!”
By Pastor Donald Parker
Easter Sunday is just days away! But Easter isn’t about Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies. While there’s nothing wrong with hunting Easter Eggs in and of itself; the fact is, Easter, is so much bigger than that. Easter proved that Jesus Christ was telling the truth. When He rose from the grave three days later, He proved He was God! But before Sunday, there was Friday.
On Friday, even after Jesus stood being falsely accused, and nearly beaten to death, they led him out to the place called “The Skull” also known as Golgotha. Then, as He laid his life down for all humanity, they nailed Him to a cross and stood him up between two criminals. After all that, the first surprising words Jesus spoke from the cross were, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus asked his Heavenly Father to forgive the very people who were putting him to death. Jesus extended His mercy to them, just as He offers it to each of us today.
You see, because we are all sinners, we all played a part in putting Jesus to death. As Jesus hung upon the cross, He demonstrated His unconditional love; that no matter what they had done, and no matter what we have done, He still loves us and cares about us and wants us to turn from our sin (to repent) and turn back to Him.
The second surprising words Jesus spoke from the cross were, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46b). These words Jesus spoke were an expression of the agony and suffering he felt by taking upon himself the sins of the world (including yours and mine), which caused him to be separated from his Father. Jesus went through all this suffering, so that you and I would be given the opportunity to never have to experience eternal separation from God.
The third surprising words Jesus spoke from the cross were, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). One of the criminals that hang on a cross next to Jesus had a change of heart. He repented and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42). Jesus, accepted his genuine expression of faith by answering, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Did the criminal deserve such mercy and grace? No. The fact is, none of us are worthy of God’s mercy and grace. But what you need to understand is, it’s God’s grace that saves us, not our merit (our goodness). The one criminal did exactly what was required to be made right with God, he put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The next most surprising words Jesus spoke from the cross were, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The word “finished” carries the same meaning as “paid in full.” Jesus’ work of atonement for sin was done, finished, paid in full!
Because Jesus knew every sin you and I would ever commit, He took all our sins upon himself and paid for every single one of them by the shedding of His blood and said, “It is finished!” The sin debt of all humanity has been “paid in full,” and then the Scripture says, “And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Then, something incredibly amazing happened in Mark 15:38, “And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” The curtain in the Temple was between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Meaning, the curtain’s purpose was to separate sinful people from the presence of Holy God – until now!
When Jesus had breathed his last word, the curtain was torn from top to bottom; signifying that God himself opened up the curtain to provide a way for people to come into a personal relationship with Him.
When Jesus took his last breath, God tore the curtain in the Temple from top to bottom saying to you today, “I am accessible – I am available – The sacrifice has been made, and your sin debt has been paid in full through the shedding of the blood of Jesus.” Billy Graham once said, “The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin – but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.”
That was Friday, then three days later Sunday came and everything changed. The miracle of Easter is that the tomb is empty and Jesus Christ is Alive! I invite you to join us this Sunday at 11a.m. as we worship our risen Savior, Jesus Christ! First Baptist Church, “A Place to Belong.”