April 8, 2007
SEVEN SAYINGS ON THE CROSS
It is remarkable that of the seven sayings of the Lord on the cross, only one of them was duplicated. It was the only time He addressed “God,” “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Mt. 27:36 & Mk. 15:34). David began Psalm 22 with these very words. With David there seemed a note of despair. With the Lord, though put in question form, He knew full well why a Holy God must turn His back upon Him when made an offering for sin. He was not mistaken, but was truly forsaken by God at that time!
#1 Luke recorded His first, a prayer to “forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). This is more than a simple plea for forgiveness. Moses made it clear that “if ought be committed by ignorance,” an offering could be brought, the priest would make an atonement, and forgiveness would be granted. If however a person “does ought presumptuously,” (i.e., sins with a high hand, a clenched fist, in your face!) no offering was allowed or prescribed. Judgment was certain. What a mercy of the Lord to impute ignorance to Israel thus giving an opportunity to bring a suitable offering. See Number 15:24, 30. Yet they were rejecting the only offering God would accept!
#2 When asked to be remembered when in His coming kingdom, the Lord assured the repentant malefactor that day, that he would be with Him “in paradise.” A fitting picture of that earthly kingdom restored in glory!
#3 Of the apostles, only John was at the cross with Mary close by. In the midst of His own agony the Lord thought of them. “Woman, behold thy son,” and to John, “Behold thy mother.” What compassion for others.
#4 Was His expression of being forsaken by God as commented above..
Sayings #5, #6, & #7 are all together at the end. That the scripture might be fulfilled, He said, “I thirst,” and they gave Him vinegar. Then He said, “It is finished.” Looking ahead to this very moment, His prayer in the Upper Room was, “I have finished the work You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4). It was now an accomplished fact. The hours of darkness were past. His relationship to His Father restored, His final cry was “with a loud voice... “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit:” and having said thus, He gave up the ghost (spirit)” (Luke 23:46). Proof that God accepted His offering is that “Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father...” Therefore “we...should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).
Ivan L. Burgener