This morning we will conclude our study of Jesus’ 7 statements from the cross. We have titled this 3-part message “Cross Talk”, and today we will focus on the final 2 phrases which Jesus spoke during the crucifixion. I personally believe that these last 2 statements were made within mere moments of one another. They are the final words of Christ before his physical death at Calvary.
The first of these is a declaration of victory. It is the shout of a champion who is celebrating His great achievement. It is found written in the book of John. The second is a letting go, a cessation of all physical pain and struggle. It is documented in the gospel of Luke. These 2 statements flow together nicely in that a gravely wounded warrior has no reason to cling to his fleeting life after having completely won the battle for which he given his all.
Today is also Easter Sunday, and so after looking at both of these statements from the cross we will spend the remainder of our time discussing the wonder of the resurrection. The events of the crucifixion are inseparably linked to Jesus’ rising from the dead, and thus the 7 statements that He made while being crucified should not be considered to be His final words. The fact is that we serve a living Savior who is still speaking to His children and the world today. Jesus is alive and well - He still speaks. This is the primary message of Easter.
I. “IT IS FINISHED”. - John 19:30
You might recall that Jesus’ fifth statement from the cross, the one immediately prior to this one, was “I thirst”. We talked about it at length last week. In response to His request for a drink, the Roman guard offered Jesus a sponge saturated with sour wine or vinegar to drink. After receiving this, Jesus made His sixth statement as He shouted in a loud voice, “It is finished!”.
Like His previous statements from the cross, Jesus’ words are found prophesied in the Old Testament. In Psalm 22:30-31 King David spoke of a future generation that would declare the righteousness of the Lord. These people who were to be born would worship the Messiah for what He had “performed” or “done”. We are among this generation about which David wrote, as we gather here each week to celebrate what Jesus achieved or finished on the cross.
Some translations use the word “complete” or “accomplished” rather than “finished” in this verse. These alternate endings shed light on the true meaning of Christ's words. Following several hours of torment, and having carried the full weight of humanity's sin upon Himself, Jesus victoriously conquered sin and the grave. The Lord endured the unmitigated wrath of God against sin, and paid the incredible price for it all. When the penalty had been completely executed against Him, and Jesus had accomplished the mission for which He had come, He proclaimed victory. Our Savior defeated the enemy and vanquished sin and death, making forgiveness and salvation available to all mankind!
Have you ever been to a basketball game or some other sporting event when one team completely demolished the other one? At the end of the first quarter the stronger team was already ahead by 20 points and there were still 3 quarters left to play! The outcome of the contest had already been decided, yet the game itself continued. This is what happened on the cross. Jesus won the victory by overcoming the curse of sin, but the game of life continues until the final buzzer sounds [1 Corinthians 15:24-25].
II. “FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT”. - Luke 23:44-46
These are the final words of Jesus from the cross - His seventh and last statement. As mentioned in the introduction of this sermon, I believe they were spoken almost immediately after He proclaimed, “It is finished!” Having secured the victory over sin there would be no reason for continuing to endure the suffering and shame of the cross. Longing to see the Father and having no reason to stay on earth any longer, sometime around 3pm that afternoon Jesus allowed Himself to die. He did not die as the result of man’s actions, but instead laid down His life on His own initiative [John 10:18].
Again Jesus quoted the words of David, which are penned in Psalm 31:5. Many scholars believe that this psalm was written during the years when David was being chased relentlessly by King Saul. Fearing for his safety and not knowing whether or not he’d survive another day, the young man David expressed his trust in God’s care by committing himself into the LORD's hands. In similar fashion, Jesus gave up His life in the exact same way He lived it each day - in complete surrender to the will of His Father.
When the Lord died, there was a mighty earthquake which shook the entire city violently. The veil of the temple, which had for centuries separated the common people from the presence of God, was torn in two from top to bottom. The graves were opened and some of the saints resurrected. These natural signs marked the physical death of Jesus, and revealed that the barrier of sin between man and God had been permanently removed.
III. “HE IS NOT HERE, BUT HE HAS RISEN” - Luke 24:1-3
According to the traditionally accepted timeline, Jesus died in the late afternoon on Friday. Seeing that the Sabbath began at sundown, and there were only a few hours until then, Jesus’ body was hastily removed from the coss to be buried. Had it been left to the Romans, Jesus’ body would have likely been cast out as carrion for the birds and wild animals. Perhaps they would have thrown it into a mass grave or pit with the bodies of other condemned criminals. But Joseph of Arimathea requested a proper burial of Jesus’ body in his own personal tomb, and the authorities consented. After securing the body, Jesus was quickly prepared for burial and placed in the tomb just before sunset.
The scribes and Pharisees had heard claims that Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day. Feaing that His disciples would come and steal the body in order to orchestrate a massive hoax, they persuaded the Romans to place a guard at the tomb of Jesus Christ. They even rolled a large stone in front of the grave’s opening and sealed it shut just in case. Surely these extreme measures would insure that no such “resurrection” could be faked by Jesus' followers.
At dawn on Sunday morning, following the Sabbath day, the women came to the tomb with spices that they had prepared. They wanted to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial as they had been rushed on Friday evening. When they arrived, the women were amazed to find that the grave was empty and that the Lord Jesus’ body was not there. Two men in dazzling clothing appeared and told them that the Lord had risen from the dead, just as He’d promised. Hearing the news, they rushed to tell the apostles.
This morning we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He is risen, we as Christians know that some day we too will rise from the dead to live eternally with our Lord in Heaven. Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and He rose from the grave in order to conquer death. As His children, we have the promise of eternal life through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!