Lucky number 7.
God's perfect number.
The Bible records the last seven statements of Jesus on the cross. I thought it would be interesting to explore them today.
1. "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
The cross was the culmination of a terribly stressful week. Authorities had been looking for a way to kill Jesus. One of His trusted friends had betrayed Him. Another had denied Him. The rest of them had run away when He was arrested. He was completely alone. If anyone had reason to be bitter – it was Jesus. And yet, the completely Innocent One turned instinctively to His Father and prayed for all those people.
What does Jesus' gracious prayer of forgiveness mean to you?
2. "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Three men hung on three crosses. Two of them deserved to be there. They taunted the "King of the Jews" hanging between them. And yet, one of the men began to see things differently – He saw who Jesus was. He turned to Him and asked to be remembered. Jesus didn't make this moment of salvation theologically complicated, or personally difficult – no, He just spoke an unmistakable, clear promise that because the man believed, he would be saved.
How does this promise affect your perspective about death?
3. "Dear woman, here is your son." And He said to His disciple, "Here is your mother." (John 19:26-27)
Was Jesus self-absorbed in His own struggle, His own suffering? No, even at the end, in His supreme moment of agony, His tenderness shone like a beacon to everyone at the foot of the cross. Suspended between life and death, Heaven and earth, Jesus did not think of Himself. He took care of those He loved – and at the same time, He was taking care of us.
In times of crisis, do we withdraw, or do we reach out?
4. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Jesus was not a good man who died for a cause. He wasn't a soldier who died for his buddy next to Him in battle. He wasn't a misunderstood martyr or a teacher who said the wrong things. He was Almighty God. God who stepped out of Heaven and came to earth for one purpose only – to give His life for you and me. Jesus took our place. He wore the dirty clothes of our sins. He became the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb – once, for all, for always. And in that moment, God had to turn His back on His beloved Son. Jesus experienced all the wrath, judgment, and penalty for every sin – He experienced it alone.
What does this moment tell you about Jesus' grace and love for you?
5. "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
After all He had gone through, you might expect that Jesus would have been incoherent, delirious, not in His right mind. But, He maintained an unclouded focus. As a student of Scripture, He knew what the prophets had predicted. He knew that the Messiah's death would produce a dry mouth – "My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth" – Psalm 22:15. He knew that those attending the execution would offer "sour wine for my thirst" – Psalm 69:21. John tells us that Jesus was acutely aware of every detail of His crucifixion. As the moment of His death neared, Jesus made sure that not a single detail would be overlooked. He would finish and fulfill all the prophecies made about Him – He would make the final statement – Yes, I AM the Messiah.
How do these fulfilled prophecies strengthen our faith?
6. "It is finished." (John 19:30)
Jesus' death on the cross was fast by crucifixion standards. Usually, people lingered in agony for days. But Jesus, already weakened by blood loss because of His beatings and flogging, died quickly. This phrase is a translation of a Greek phrase that means "paid in full." Yes, Jesus paid the price. Totally. Completely. And in this moment, in this statement, Jesus proclaimed the humbly jubilant truth – "I have done what I came to do. I have borne the sins of the world. I have brought salvation to all people." We can never do enough to win God’s approval – we can never bridge the gap between a holy God and sin-filled people. Jesus did what we couldn't do. He bought us reconciliation with the shedding of His blood.
Do you ever let trying to be good enough affect your relationship with God?
7. "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!" (Luke 23:46)
Now, in the last seconds of His earthly life, Jesus expressed His utter and total trust in His Father. Having felt abandonment, He still believed that God was there. God still cared. God would take care of Him. And with those last words, He breathed His last. Jesus gave up His Spirit. He rested in the promises of His Father's words – that this moment was NOT the end of the story. How do we react when it seems as if God has led us into a dark place? Are we tempted to despair? Do we consider giving up? Do we angrily blame God? In those times, especially in those times, we can follow the example of Jesus. Acknowledge the unseen and unfelt presence of God, and express our trust in Him. "Father, I am in Your hands."
What can happen when we acknowledge that we are in God's hands, even when we can't see His hand at work?
Perfect seven – the seven last words of our glorious Savior until He returns again.
The moment when He will shout these words:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End – I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One!"
The ultimate victory is eternity with Jesus Christ. – Zig Ziglar
You can trust the man who died for you. – Lettie Cowman
(Based on studies from "The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar"
by Zig Ziglar and Dwight "Ike" Reighard, c. 2009)
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"