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Good Friday

Luke 23:34 This is a word of forgiveness.

Do you see what Jesus is doing here?  He’s interceding to God Almighty on behalf of those who are tormenting Him.  And what is He asking?  He’s asking that God might be merciful and graciously pardon them from their sins so that they too may one day enjoy eternal paradise in heaven with Him.  Wow!

Is that how we picture forgiveness?  How do we act?  “Why should I forgive them! Look at what they did to me!”  “Maybe I’ll forgive them…if they show me they’re sorry first!”  Is that true forgiveness?

Thank the Lord that Jesus spoke these words.  Jesus shows us true forgiveness.  Forgiveness begins in the heart of the One who’s forgiving.  Because that’s God’s heart, your forgiveness is authentic.  Forgiveness is complete.  Forgiveness is lasting.  Forgiveness is freely given.

By dying on the cross that’s exactly the forgiveness Jesus has given to you!

Luke 23:43 This is a word of hope.

The criminal had hope.  Maybe he had hoped for riches and earthly glory.  Maybe he had hoped for getting an earthly paradise from crime and dishonesty.  Now his pathetic hope was lost as he hung on a cross as a pathetic criminal.  What about our hope?  Hope for a good life, hope for a long retirement, hope for a healthy, successful, better life?  But how fast can any of those hopes fail and disappoint?

Thank the Lord He speaks this word of hope.  To a criminal who had no earthly hope, Jesus gives true hope.  To us who need sure hope, Jesus gives true hope.  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  That is a hope that will never change, fail, or disappoint.    That is a hope that is certain, sure, and true.  That hope knows that an eternal paradise in heaven awaits Jesus’ followers.

By dying on the cross that is exactly the hope Jesus has given you!

John 19:26-27 This is a word of personal care.

I’ll never be able to fathom what Jesus is enduring when He speaks these words!  The physical pain, the physical exhaustion, and yet even more than that…incomprehensible soul torment of bearing the sins of the world!  It’s easy for us to assume Jesus was at this moment concerned only with this great, big, glob of sinful humanity as a whole.

And so for us He speaks this word, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”  In the height of suffering He’s concerned about the individual.  He’s concerned about His mother’s earthly needs.  He cares about her welfare.  He also cares about you, the individual.  He cares about your earthly needs.  He cares about your surgery, your job, your marriage, your homework. 

By dying on the cross Jesus shows His concern for you, personally and individually.

Mark 15:34 This is a word of horror.

From noon to three the sky went black.  What does it mean to be separate from God?  What does it mean when God hides his face from you?  What does it mean that the wages of sin is death?

About three o’clock in the afternoon, words from the pursed lips of a terrorized man screamed in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This is the wages of our sin.  This is to be separate from God.  This is to have God hide his face from you.  That is hell.  The absence of the blessing of God.  There is no hell on earth.  While we have life, while rain continues to fall, while sun continues to shine, we taste the goodness of God.

Hell is none of that.  Hell is terror.  Hell is worms eating you and never finishing.  Hell is fire.  Hell is beyond imagination.

Here we have words of one who was there.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One who was there for me.  “He was delivered over to death because of my sins.  The punishment that brought me peace was upon him.  By his wounds we have been healed.”

John 19:28 – This is a word of power.

Three o’clock in the afternoon.  In six hours he had suffered a world’s eternity of hells.  As the prophet David foretold in Psalm 22, his strength was dried up like a piece of pottery, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.  And so, in order that every bit of Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said in effect, “My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth” . . . “I am thirsty.”

How trivial, we might think.  To ask for a drink?  Trivial, until you see the pattern.  Over and over again through Jesus’ life we see these words: this fulfilled the Scripture.  From preaching in Nazareth to the arrest in Gethsemane and even to His clothes being divided- all to fulfill Scripture.

The psalmist had said Jesus would be thirsty.  So he said it.

Trivial?  No. Comforting.  There was a plan.  God had designed this entire series of events, to the smallest detail.  He was in charge.  He would direct all to ensure that eternal life would be won for the world.

That’s power.  God’s power to work his plan for your life.  Jeremiah 29: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God’s promise to you?  “I will work out all things for the good of those who love me, who have been called according to my purpose.”

Afraid things are out of control?  “I am thirsty,” just to prove that God is in absolute control.

John 19:30 – This is a word of full payment.

Words from the cross.  We’re nearing the end, because Jesus’ work had come to an end.  In fact, before Jesus said, “I am thirsty,” the Gospel writer John reports that all had been finished.  Heaven had been won.  Sin had been paid for.  But one Scripture prophecy had yet to be fulfilled, so Jesus said, “I’m thirsty,” and then he announced with words a victory already accomplished.  “It has been finished.”

Understood by a merchant, Jesus spoke the word placed regularly on bills that had been paid in full.

Paid in full.  We had accumulated a debt before our God.  The price attached to rebellion was eternal death.  We had prison sentences stacked one upon another.  A debt we could never pay.  So Jesus took our debt upon himself.  He paid every last penny.  The guilty, you and me, have been declared innocent.  Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the entire world.

Paid in full.  It is finished, and we are saved.


Luke 23:46 – This is a word of certainty.

It was now time.  That moment we will all face when the shadows of death overtake us and the light of this earth fades fast.  A frightening moment, were we uncertain about what comes next.  Yet only a sleep.  We know what Jesus our Savior has done to death.

That we might be reassured of the peace that is ours at our last moment, Jesus chose to speak words at his last moment.  He did not need to speak.  He could have whispered silently these final syllables.

He spoke them to be heard.  Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Why a loud voice?  Why shout?  Because he wanted you and me to know that our death is nothing to fear.  At our last hour, when the devil tries for one last time to convince us that Jesus Christ has not conquered death, to convince us that we will have to pay for all the shameful deeds of life . . . when the devil tries to insert doubt between our dying breaths, let us remember that Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

At death he was not abandoned.  With his last breath, he was not left alone.  For there was his Father, who had abandoned him that he might suffer our hell, but having witnessed the victory, stood ready with hands to carry a spirit to Paradise.

Jesus.  A loud voice.  Unafraid.  That we might in our death cry out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”