We commend him to you as the answer to your life’s deepest needs and questions.
Please be sure to have a look at the "Who is Jesus" presentation.
THE SEVEN SHOUTS
Have you ever had a really bad day? You know it’s going to be a bad day when…
You jump out of bed in the morning and miss the floor.
I’d like to submit to you this evening that no matter how bad one of your days might have been, it was nothing like that fateful Friday 2,000 years ago.
This evening we want to focus on the bad day that Jesus had on what we know as Good Friday. This day has different names in different cultures. The Greeks called it the Friday of Preparation, because it was the day before Passover. The Romans called it the Friday of the Passion and Death of the Lord. In Germany it’s known as the Friday of Mourning. In Norway it’s called Long Friday. In other parts of the world it has been called Great Friday or simply Holy Friday.
Properly understood, this day is called “Good” because of the redemptive results that took place during the six hours Jesus was on the cross. It certainly isn’t “good” in the sense of what Jesus went through. In fact, it’s probably the “worst” day in the history of the world. As we’ll learn tonight, Jesus had a bad day so that you and I can have a good day.
When we look at the cross we must learn to see our complicity in it. We cannot dismiss it by blaming the Jewish leaders or the brutal Romans. When Jesus was nailed to the timber, you and I were holding the hammer.
In an old episode of MASH, an arrogant young pilot is injured and is brought to the hospital. He tells everyone in a rather boasting voice that flying really gives him a high. He likes being in the war. He brags that every time he flies a couple of missions they let him take several weeks of R & R. Life as a Top Gun fighter pilot was much better than what he was doing at home in the states.
Then one day a Korean child is brought to the MASH unit with her arm horribly mangled from an air attack. The young pilot is deeply moved as he spends time with this little girl. Even though it was not his plane that caused her injuries, for the first time he’s jolted by his own participation in the brutality of war. He begins to see things not from the perspective of a proud pilot, but through the eyes of a fearful child.
Romanticizing the cross
After a Good Friday service, a young girl went home and prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross. And thank you that we didn’t have to watch.” It’s good we didn’t have to watch but we should at least slow down and hear the final phrases of Jesus.
We’re going to replay the seven shouts from the Saviour and intersperse these cries from the cross with songs and readings so that we can capture both the bad and the good of “God’s Friday.”
Most of the time on the cross was spent in silence and yet seven sentences are recorded for us. While his body was wracked with pain, his throat parched with thirst, Jesus had no energy to waste on trivial matters. Each word serves as a window to help us understand Christ and the cross better. We’re going to dwell on each one of these solemn sentences in order to prepare ourselves for the exclamation point of Easter. Like the steps of a ladder, there is a mutual dependence and interlinking between each of the cries.
Forgiving the Unforgivable:
The first words of grace.
Luke 23:34 gives us the first words of grace from Golgotha:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...”
When the first red drops of blood spurted on his hands and splashed on the soldier’s hammer, the blessed mouth of Jesus formed the words to a prayer for pardon. His request was not for Himself but for “them” – and us. His first thought is to plead in prayer for those who are in desperate need of forgiveness. When man had done his worst, Jesus prayed, not for justice, but for mercy.
If Jesus can forgive those responsible for killing Him, then He can forgive you! No one is beyond the reach of His prayer of forgiveness. No one is good enough to save himself and no one is so bad that God cannot save him.
Friends, we’re all responsible for the death of Jesus. Every one of us stands in need of forgiveness. Some of you think you’ve done something so bad that you can never be forgiven, that you somehow don’t deserve it. The truth of the matter is that we’ve all done something to disqualify ourselves from a relationship with God, and none of us deserve to be forgiven.
But Jesus has made a way. His prayer for your forgiveness was answered by the Father and can be activated in your life the instant you reach out to Him in faith and receive Him as your Saviour. The price has been paid and a path has been laid.
In light of what Jesus did for you, is there anyone you’ve been withholding forgiveness from? One of the best things you can do is to forgive the people who are trying to ruin your life. Remember, they don’t always know what they’re dong. I know that isn’t how many of us feel when we’re being wronged. We tend to see things from our viewpoint and when bad things happen, it appears that whoever did us wrong knew exactly what they were doing. But that isn’t always the case. It must have looked that way to Jesus too. But He forgave them. And the tense of this shout indicates that he continually prayed, “Father, forgive them. Father, forgive them. Father, forgive them.”
We’ll only be able to do this when we soak up the Scriptural truth that true forgiveness springs from gratitude to God for His grace in forgiving us. When I understand how much I’ve been forgiven, I will then be able to forgive others.
Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Last Second Salvation
This criminal was condemned, then he became caustic, then a change took place, and finally he was converted. His conversion happened because he first respected God. When he heard his friend utter those ugly words, dripping with sarcasm, “Aren’t you the Christ, save yourself and us,” he stood up to him for maybe the first, and certainly the last, time: “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence?”
We must always start with God by recognizing that He is holy and just. He deserves first place in our lives.
Secondly, he admitted his guilt in the first part of verse 41: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve…” He didn’t gloss over, excuse, or rationalize his behaviour. He came right out and said, “We’re busted. We’re wrong. We’re getting what we deserve.” We can’t be saved until we first admit that we are just as lost and condemned.
Thirdly, he confessed Jesus when he cried out in the last part of verse 41: “…But this man has done nothing wrong.” Jesus is the sinless substitute, the Lamb of God who took our sins with Him to the cross. The two criminals were getting what they deserved and the Lamb who had done nothing wrong was paying the price to redeem sinners from the penalty and power of sin.
Finally, he requested salvation. Look at verse 42: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Salvation is not automatic. It’s a pardon that must be received if you want it activated in your life. John 1:12: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
There are some lessons we can learn from this second shout from the Saviour:
Jesus alone has the authority to save.
He is the sinless Son, the Lamb of God, who died as our substitute.
No one is beyond His reach. This criminal had lived an absolutely rotten life and was saved at the very last second. Jesus came to save the lost, the last, and the least.
John 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Final Words of a Family Man
Just like the first two, this shout is totally unexpected: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son.’”
After telling his mother to look to John for support, Jesus now turns to the disciple whom He loved and says, “Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
The disciple John models two wonderful qualities.
First, he came back to Jesus. Even though he had fled like the others when Jesus was arrested, he returned. And, when he came back, he found grace at the Cross.
Second, he was willing to do whatever he was asked: “From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” He models obedience.
Jesus thought of His family on a really bad day. We too must honour our parents, no matter what kind of day we’ve had. We must make sure we’re taking care of those closest to us. We learn from Jesus that no one is ever discharged from the sacred obligation to honour his or her parents. No matter what we may do in life, we can hardly be considered a success if we neglect the care of our family.
The Forsaken Christ
The fourth cry is found in
We see here an important principle: aim your hard questions at God, not man because in the bad days of life people generally have inadequate answers.
God the Father turned His back because in His absolute holiness He could not look at the accumulated ugliness of all the world’s sins that were piled on His Son. Habakkuk 1:13 states it this way: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” God’s purity demands that He turn away from wrongdoing.
His holiness recoils from even the smallest sin. When God looked down and saw His Son bearing the sin of the world, He didn’t see His Son; He saw the sin that He was bearing. And in that awful moment, the Majesty turned His back. He was repulsed by the raw sewage of sin splattered all over His Son.
When God looked away, the light evaporated. The word “forsaken” is quite strong. It means “to desert, to disown, to turn away from.” This was more than just that Jesus felt forsaken; He was literally and actually abandoned by the Almighty. This cry, shouted out to the Heavens, is met with a holy silence.
The prophet Nahum asked a question that finds its answer on Calvary’s cross in Nahum 1:6: “Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before Him.” Jesus took the indignation, anger and wrath of God for us. Jesus received what rightly belonged to us so that we can receive that which we don’t deserve – forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
That’s an amazing love, the kind of love Jesus spoke of in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Dying For a Drink - I am thirsty.
Follow along as I read
John 19:28-29: “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.”
This cry reminds us of the perfect humanity of Christ. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He got tired, hungry and thirsty.
Jesus suffered profoundly. He felt everything intently. His throat is burning and his mouth is on fire. His lips were cracked, his tongue was thick and His vocal cords were swollen. Just seconds before He takes His last breath, he makes a statement that reflects his physical sufferings.
And Jesus fulfilled Scripture while He hung on the cross. Here are just two of the over 300 prophecies.
The Word of Triumph – ‘Finished’
Now, turn to John 19:28-30 where we’ll hear the sixth shout from the Savior. This cry from the cross follows quickly after the fifth cry when Jesus said He was thirsty and immediately before His final exclamation. These last three shouts were most likely uttered during the last minute of His life. We’ve been focusing on the tragedy of the cross; we turn now to its triumph.
Look at verse 30: “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’” Don’t miss the link between cry #5 and cry #6. Jesus was parched with thirst. The wine vinegar was put to His lips, which fulfilled Scripture, loosened his tongue so that it didn’t stick to the roof of his mouth, and cleared His throat so He could utter these words,
“It is finished.”
Notice that this verse is translated, “It is finished.” Jesus is not saying, “I’m finished” in a defeatist sort of way almost like He tried and just couldn’t do it. His death is not an accident. It’s not as if a great injustice was done. In fact, by His death justice was fully satisfied so that we can be declared righteous. His death is what made a bad day turn into a good day for us.
When Jesus said it is finished, it means the price has been paid and the debt has been cancelled. The word “Tetelestai” helps us see that…
1. His suffering was completed.
Now the cup has been drained. The awful storm of God’s wrath has been spent. The darkness has ended. The wages of sin have been paid and divine holiness has been satisfied. His suffering is now over.
He is also the scapegoat who was crucified “outside” the camp when He was killed on the outskirts of Jerusalem, taking the penalty of sinners who transfer their sins to Him. Leviticus 16:22 pictures what Jesus did on our behalf: “The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place…” Jesus was in that “solitary place” when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Hebrews 13:12: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood.”
3. Satan was defeated.
4. Salvation was secured. Because everything has been done that needed to be done, we now have open access to God the Father. Nothing needs to be added to what has already been accomplished. Jesus came in order to bring life to us. John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He was very clear about His mission in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”
Born to Die
Luke 23:46: “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’
When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Jesus models three things in this last cry. If the sixth shout was a trumpet of triumph, the seventh one is a crescendo of commitment.
1. Jesus was faithful to the finish. After enduring the physical trauma, the emotional ridicule, and the spiritual isolation of becoming the sin sacrifice, Jesus was able to cry out with a strong voice. He wanted to make sure that his final words were amplified and broadcast widely so that everyone could hear them.
2. Jesus loved and lived Scripture.
3. Jesus surrendered Himself to the safety of the Father.
Now that His physical life is over, Jesus is committing His spirit to the Father for safekeeping. This is a good reminder for us that our bodies were never designed to last forever. We’re all wearing out and running down. When our time here on earth is over, our bodies go into the grave, but our spirit will live forever.
Have you surrendered yourself to God?
There’s a story about a man who was walking along a narrow path, not paying much attention to where he was going when he slipped over the edge of a cliff. As he fell, he grabbed a branch growing from the side of the rocks. Realizing that he couldn’t hang on for long, he called out for help.
He yelled, “Is there anybody up there?” When a voice answered, the man said, “Who’s that?” The voice replied, “It’s God, do you trust me?” The man said, “I trust you completely, Lord.” God replied, “Good. Let go of the branch.” After a long pause the man cried out, “Is there anybody else up there?”
A flying trapeze artist was once asked what it was like to fly through the air. This is what he said, “I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think I’m the star but the real star is Joe, my catcher. The secret is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher…the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that the catcher will be there for him.”
When Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” he is modeling for us that dying is like trusting the catcher. Entrust yourself into His strong hands and let Him catch you. He will be there when you make the long jump. Don’t try to grab Him; He will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and trust, trust, trust.
When Jesus died, there was a man near the cross who was willing to be caught by the holy hands of God. He broke ranks with his fellow soldiers. Mark 15:39 describes what happened: “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how He died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!” Let’s listen to a reading from Max Lucado to help us see how a bad day turned into a good day for this man.
Jesus had a bad day so you can have a good day. He died in your place so that your sins can be forgiven. He lives today so that you can live forever in His place. Let’s close by surveying the wondrous cross…
After he explained the details, she suddenly asks,
To which the Roman replies, “Let loose in the world, lady, where...no one can stop His truth.”
The gospel of the resurrection is an indisputable fact, an indispensable faith, and an irresistible force that has been let loose in the world. See you on Easter Sunday!
By Brian Bill