Last week we began an extended message called “Cross Talk”. We are exploring the 7 statements that Jesus spoke from the cross while He was being crucified. Each of these gives us unique insight into the person and the mind of Christ. Due to the length of this sermon, we're breaking it up into 3 sections. Let’s quickly review what we covered last week...
Jesus was nailed to the cross and raised up to be crucified at around 9:00am. As He gazed out upon the religious authorities, the Roman soldiers, and the crowd who were there - for the most part mocking and ridiculing Him - the Lord prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The insults continued that morning to the point that one of the two criminals being executed with Christ began goading Jesus as well. The other criminal rebuked the first, and believing that Christ was truly the Messiah he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. The Lord made a promise to the repentant thief saying, “Today you shall be with
Me in Paradise.”
In Part 2 of this message, we will briefly examine the next 3 statements that Jesus made from the cross. The first of these is recorded by the apostle John, the second is recorded by both Matthew and Mark, and the third is also recorded by John. The first was spoken sometime in the late morning followed by an extended period of silence, and then the second and third were said later that afternoon near the time of Jesus’ death. These statements will be the topic of our sermon today.
I. “WOMAN, BEHOLD YOUR SON” & “BEHOLD, YOUR MOTHER” - John 19:25-27
As the morning wore on and the noon hour approached, Jesus looked down from the cross to see His mother standing there along with a small gathering of other women and the apostle John. Knowing that His own physical death was imminent and again showing His compassion for others above Himself, Jesus arranged for the ongoing care of His earthly mother after His departure. The fact that He did this indicates that Jesus’ father Joseph was likely already dead, and that Mary was a widow. As the eldest son, Jesus was considered the head of the household and therefore bore the responsibility of making provision for His mother's continued care.
Scripture definitively states that Jesus had earthly half-brothers and half-sisters, the naturally born children of Joseph and Mary. Some have questioned why the Lord would entrust the care of His mother to someone other than His biological brother. After all, shouldn’t that responsibility stay within the confines of the family? We can gain some perspective on this by reading of an episode that took place earlier in Jesus’ ministry which is recorded in Matthew 12:46-50. This passage indicates that Jesus valued His spiritual brothers and sisters as highly as His earthly ones.
Jesus was more concerned about the spiritual care of His mother Mary than her material well-being. It is important to note that none of Jesus’ biological siblings were present at the crucifixion, and that all of them were non-believers at the time of Jesus’ death. It was only after the resurrection that some of His brothers finally accepted Jesus as the Messiah and became Christians - most notably James and Jude. Therefore, Jesus wisely chose His faithful follower John to take care of His mother, and John graciously did so.
Of the 12 apostles, only John died of old age; all of the rest were martyred for their faith. It is widely held that John lived well into his nineties. I personally believe John’s long life can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that he took such good care of Jesus’ mother Mary. The 5th Commandment says to “honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged upon the earth...” We see this demonstrated though John’s acceptance of Mary as his own mother which contributed to his long life.
II. “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” - Matthew 27:45-46
At noon, darkness fell over the land for 3 hours. God placed all of mankind’s sin upon Jesus, who became our sacrificial substitute. During this time, the wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus as He bore the full weight of humanity's sin upon Himself. The extent of the spiritual agony that Christ experienced for these few hours is unimaginable. The Father unleashed His intense fury and bitter hatred of sin upon Jesus. The spiritual pain and separation from God that Christ felt while hanging on the cross completely dwarfed all of the physical pain that He was feeling. This punishment for sin continued throughout the afternoon leading Jesus to eventually cry out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Sin always leads to separation from God. From the Garden of Eden, to the cross, and even today sin always severs the relationship between man and God. Though He never sinned, all of man’s sin was imputed to Christ and He “became sin for us”. As such, in His humanity Jesus felt for the first time this separation from the loving goodness of God. We must understand that Hell ultimately isn’t awful because of the fire and brimstone, but because of the absence of God’s love, mercy, and grace. Apart from the goodness of God, there is nothing but misery and torment. On the cross Jesus personally experienced the extreme suffering that is the very
essence of Hell - that is, being estranged from the loving presence of almighty God.
The words that Jesus cried out that afternoon echo those penned by King David in Psalm 22:1. David had felt forsaken by God following his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, and in his anguish wrote the psalm. The religiously educated Jews who were present at the crucifixion would have immediately recognized these words as a quotation of Scripture. When you read the entire Psalm, there are some amazing parallels between it and the events of the cross. Perhaps Jesus intentionally quoted the psalm of King David as a way of revealing Himself as
the true Messiah, the long awaited King of the Jews.
III. “I THIRST” - John 19:28-29
Yes Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully human. He ate, drank, slept, got tired, and so on just like you and I. And so, after suffering on the cross for several hours, it stands to reason that the Lord would have been thirsty. Crucifixion often led to dehydration. As such, He expressed His natural human desire for a drink. But this brief, simple statement of physical need also held a much deeper meaning…
After hearing Jesus’ request for a drink, the soldiers saturated a sponge with sour wine or vinegar and held it up to Jesus’ mouth on a long hyssop branch. Their actions fulfilled yet another prophecy also foretold by King David in Psalm 69:21. Just as He had done with His previous statement, Jesus again made a connection between Himself and the Jew’s most beloved king in order to further reveal His true identity as the “Son of David”.
Finally, I believe the “thirst” that Jesus expressed went beyond the physical realm. The Lord taught us that “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” There is a spiritual thirst that we as Christians should all have - a desire to see God and to be like Him. By this point the end of Jesus’ life on earth was very near, and these words speak of His longing to be reunited with His Father once again.
Perhaps you are here this morning and you feel forsaken by God. Maybe you feel that the sin you’ve committed is so great that God has looked away from you and left you hopelessly separated from His love and forgiveness. If that is how you feel today can I encourage you for a moment? The truth is that God has made arrangements for your eternal care and well-being, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross, bearing the sin of all humanity upon himself, so that all who receive Him might have eternal life. He bore our penalty so that we would not have to. He made provision for us, if we are willing to receive it.
Are you thirsty for Jesus today? Do you want to be set free from the bondage of sin that has you bound up? Has this life left you parched and dry? Are you ready to drink the living water that Jesus offers? The Lord has promised that those who drink this water will never thirst again…
Next week will will conclude this 3-part message on the 7 statements of Jesus from the cross. We will discuss the Lord’s final two statements - the first a shout of victory and the second a sweet release. Seeing that it will be Easter morning next Sunday, we will also talk about what happened 3 days later…