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April 2, 2015

Seven Last Sayings of Jesus, Part 2

Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3, NIV

Reviewing the last words of Christ from the cross enables us to identify with His suffering and challenges us in processing our own pain. Yesterday, we looked at the first four of seven final statements Jesus made from the cross. Let’s consider the final three today:

“I thirst!” (John 19:28, NKJV)

Earlier, Mark tells us that Jesus turned down the offer for a drink. “They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but He refused it.” (Mark 15:23, NLT). He didn’t want to dull His senses with this cocktail for pain relief. But, now, He asks for a drink for one primary reason. It wasn’t the obvious – just to satisfy his thirst – although He certainly must have been thirsty.  John tells us that Jesus knew His mission was now finished and so, to fulfill the Scriptures, He asked for a drink to clear His voice for what He was about to say. This fifth statement from the cross was uniquely linked to the next. And, to prepare for that moment, He needed help. As we look at our own lives, we can learn a lesson from the Son of God. No one is so in control, so spiritual, or so self-sufficient that he can make it through the struggles of life without the help of others. If the Son of God requested help during His struggle on the cross, I will have times I need to ask for help from others as well. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. In tough times, you need the help of others to enable and assist you to strengthen your faith and trust. It’s what keeps us humble and responsive to the physical needs of others as well.

“It is finished!” (John 19:30, NIV)

In the Greek, this statement is really one single word, “Tetelesthai”. It means, “It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!”  What is finished? The work of redemption. God’s plan to buy back mankind from the separation and slavery of sin. I’m so thankful He didn’t say, “I am finished!”  He said, “It is finished!” The once-for-all sacrifice for sin had now been completed! Jesus used a word familiar to the people in His day. They used that word in everyday life. A servant would use it when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me.” We might say, “Done!” When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. When an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “tetelesthai”, it is finished! The death of Jesus on the cross completes the picture that God was painting, the story that He had been writing since Genesis!

Perhaps, the most significant meaning of the word tetelsthia was found by the merchants who used it in everyday business transactions. It meant “The debt is paid in full!” That’s what Jesus did for you and me! He paid our debt in full!  When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law that said, “The wages of sin is death!”  None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the spotless Lamb of God shed His own blood, and that blood can take away the sins of the world! There’s nothing more to do! Simply, believe and receive!

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”  (Luke 23:46, NIV)

Following six excruciating hours on the cross, with the price of redemption paid in full, all that remained was His final surrender of life itself. That surrender reveals a huge act of trust in the Father. Just an hour before He felt forsaken, experiencing a separation between Himself as the bearer of our sin and the pure holiness of the Father who is incapable of looking upon sin, Jesus surrendered His control of life into His Father’s hands.  What a lesson for us today. It’s, no doubt, the most difficult thing for most of us to do – to surrender absolute control of our lives to Him. Yet, when we are assured of the Father’s love despite the circumstances of our lives, we can trust that He always has our best interest at heart! We can trust Him completely. We can release our grip on life and let go, knowing that He will hold us and never let us go. We can commit all that we have and all that we are to Him and experience the freedom of knowing He cares for us.

Personal Challenge:

  1. What are the areas in your life where you have the most difficult time asking for help? In what practical ways can you lift the burden of someone close to you?
  2. Are you still trying to do something to earn God’s favor? What does it mean to you to simply believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross and receive His forgiveness and grace?
  3. Have you surrendered everything to God? What are you still holding on to? Why?