Before Christ Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, he had a long discussion with his disciples.
Among the many things he said were to his Father, thus: “O Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I do and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” (John 17:25-26). Finally Jesus was crucified.
Crucifixion was feared and a shameful form of execution in those days. The victim was forced to carry his cross along the longest possible route to the crucifixion site as a warning to bystanders. There were several shapes for crosses and several different methods of crucifixion. But Jesus was nailed to the cross, like a common criminal. Christ Jesus uttered some words while on the cross before giving up his life, for my sake, so that I can live a life everlasting if only I believe, a simple condition indeed for attaining life everlasting. Words said were as follows: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus asked his Father who is our Lord God Almighty Jehovah Jireh, to forgive all those who participated in nailing Christ Jesus the Messiah to his death. Those were Jewish leaders. Roman politicians, soldiers and bystanders. Our God answered that prayer from Christ Jesus, and all the murderous where forgiven of their sin. Despite his terrible suffering before he was put on the cross, the worsening situation on the cross did not deter our Lord Christ Jesus, our Saviour to ask his Father to forgive those murderous. It is cardinal in the life of a Christian to learn to forgive those who persecute us, those who wrong us in any way. In the Lord’s prayer, we ask for forgiveness from our Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us. In certain circumstances, us as human beings may find forgiving very difficult. But this is what is required of us under what circumstances we find ourselves. When we forgive we shall also be forgiven. When we fail to forgive, we should pray for God’s power to intervene in our troubles and find space to forgive those who trespass against us. Let us emulate what Jesus did on the cross.
The other statement said by Lord Christ Jesus, while on the cross was “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The dying criminal perhaps had more faith than the rest of followers of Christ Jesus. Although the disciples continued to love Jesus, their hopes for the kingdom were like shattered when they saw Jesus, being persecuted and finally put on the cross. According to scripture, most of disciples had gone into hiding. Even the brave Peter had to deny him three times in front of his enemies.
By contrast, the criminal looked at the man who was dying next to him and said “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”. The criminal talking of a kingdom, which many disciples had thought it was no more, because the person who was talking about the kingdom was dying on the cross. How surprising and inspiring was the faith of the criminal who alone was able to see life on the cross beyond death in Christ, and beyond the present to the coming glory of the Messiah.
By the grace of God, the criminal received instant faith and salvation was given by the Lord God Almighty (Luke 23:32). The other criminal was looking at Jesus as man, while the other looked at Jesus as Lord. (Luke 23: 39-40).
The lesson learned here is that we should not be in the habit of condemning those among us, whom we may think of having a bad character. We should instead spend time providing counsel to such people. Despising them will not do us any good; they are also a creation of God. And God may decide to save such a person only by His grace, even at the eleventh hour. After all who are we to condemn if the Lord himself is prepared to turn all from darkness to light. In the The holy Bible in 1st Thess 5:17 it is written: “Pray without ceasing”. This is what we are supposed to be doing so that the devil does not cause havoc upon us. And render us irrelevant for the kingdom of God.
The other words spoken by Christ Jesus while on the cross as he was speaking to Mary and John were “Dear woman, here is your son”, and he said to his disciple: here is your mother”. (John 19:26-29). This is a matter of caring for one another. Even when, there is a state of confusion, it is of paramount importance that we learn to take care of each one of us. No person or family member should feel neglected when there is capacity to assist.
The other statement that followed was “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” Jesus was not actually questioning God, but was merely quoting the first line Psalm 22, a deep expression of the anguish he felt when he took on the sins of the world, which caused him to be separated from his Father. This was what Jesus dreaded as he prayed to God in the garden to take the cup from him (Matthew 26:39). Our Lord Jesus was humbling himself before his Father – God Almighty Jehovah. How are we able to humble ourselves before God, when we face persecution?
The other statement is as written in John 19 – 28. “I am thirst”. It was at that time when our Lord Jesus was given cheap sour wine, presumably the type soldiers were drinking whilst on duty at Calvary while waiting for those crucified to die. From time to time, we may be given “sour wine” by our enemies, even when we mean well.
The other statement is as written in John 19 – 30 thus “It is finished” The painful and complicated system of atonement for sin, which started in Gethsemane where the Lord Jesus was betrayed, was unfolding on the cross. Jesus was about to complete the process of rescuing humanity from the york and power of sin and death. No more animals to be slaughtered in order to seek forgiveness of sin, no more rituals involving the Priest, for the same reason. Our Lord Christ Jesus was to become the final sacrifice, even on my behalf a sinner. In the process of propitiation, the Lord Jesus was ready to give up his life. He was taking up punishment, which was mine as a sinner. If he wanted, the Lord Jesus on the cross could have said “humanity now should not worry; I have paid for your sins in full”. It was by this process on the cross, that our Lord Christ Jesus finished God’s work of salvation. Atonement here means satisfactory payment for an offence. Reconciliation that is the redeeming effect of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. In other words, atonement is a show of loving kindness of our Lord Christ Jesus to his people have on earth, be it Jews or Gentiles.
The last but not the least of the statements on the cross was: “Father into your hands I commend my Spirit” ‘And having said that he gave up his spirit.
This significant event symbolized Christ’s work on the cross. The Temple had three parts, the courts for all the people, the Holy Place where only Priests could enter and the Most Holy Place, where the High Priest alone could enter once a year to atone for the sins of the people. The curtain that was torn was the one that closed off the Most High Place from view. At Christ’s death, the barrier between God and humanity was split in two. Now all people can approach God directly through Christ (Hebrews 9:1-14 and 10: 19-22). Jesus paid the penalty of the sins people committed under that first covenant. The Messiah which means Jesus (John 1:40-41) was the deliverer of the new covenant, and this he did when he died on the cross. Death of Jesus on the cross was justice passed on sin.
Christ Jesus our Lord and Messiah was laid in the tomb by Joseph of Arimethea, who had been a disciple of Jesus Christ, because he feared the Jewish leaders. He did that with Nicodimus, who had come to Jesus at night (Luke 23: 50 -56). On Sunday in the morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, to see the body of Jesus. The two women met an angel who said to them “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Glory be to God. Hallelujah! Amen