It is said that actions speak louder than words. Consider 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” While this is true, sometimes the words we speak can be far more powerful, especially when those words confirm or deny the life we have claimed to live and image we have cultivated.
Think of a person who has claimed to be a Christian all their life; living faithfully as the Bible teaches; then, when faced with persecution and the possibility of suffering or death at the hands of hateful enemies, recants their faith and says, “I never knew Jesus.”
The apostle Paul knew this; as part of his defense before King Agrippa he said (Acts 26:11), “I frequently had them punished in the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme. In my raging fury against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.”
Jesus spent His entire ministry teaching through words and actions. Throughout His ministry, His words and actions complemented each other. The Bible tells us that Jesus went willingly to the cross and died for our sins. There are seven recorded statements Jesus made from the cross, each one helping confirm everything He did and taught.
(Luke 23:34), Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.
The first words of Jesus are not about His suffering, or the unjustness of His death; rather, they are out of concern for others. Did God answer that prayer? Even those who put Jesus on the cross, spit on Him and reviled Him, cast lots for His garments and mocked Him were given the opportunity to come to Christ in faith and be forgiven.
(Luke 23:43), Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One of them asked Jesus (Luke 23:42), “remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” This man would never have the opportunity to seek forgiveness after the resurrection, but even while dying Jesus had compassion. In His final moments Jesus cared enough to forgive a lost, but repentant soul.
(John 19:26-27) (26) When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” (27) Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
I wonder what it would have been like to be Jesus looking down from the cross and seeing His mother. Even as He suffered He did what He could to care for her.
(Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
This is a quote from Psalm 22:1 and of all the words Jesus spoke, these capture, I think, the true essence of what He suffered. The physical suffering was horrific, we all know that. The spiritual suffering was unimaginable. Jesus paid the price for us. The whole price. He didn’t only suffer for us physically, He suffered the SPIRITUAL pain we were due as well.
(John 19:28) After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
This is the only thing He says concerning His physical pain, and even this was designed to fulfill prophecy (Psalm 22:15; 69:21) and was thus uttered for OUR benefit.
(John 19:29-30) Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
This statement and the one that follows constitute the last words of Jesus prior to His death. They are beautiful in their simplicity and their meaning. This points the eternal purpose of God to redeem fallen man, how God worked through history to bring all this about, and how Jesus has faithfully became a sacrifice for our sins so we could have the hope of salvation and eternal life with Him.
(Luke 23:46) And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
This is a fulfillment of the prophecy made about Him in Psalm 31:5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.” Jesus trusted the Father. He trusted Him in life and in death. He put His own life and the eternal fate of the world in the hands of a trustworthy God.
The derisive insult in Matt 27:43, “HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God” is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:8. The people asked the question mockingly, but Jesus proved it to be true; He did trust God and God DID rescue Him as proven by the resurrection.
There was no hypocrisy in Jesus, no wavering, no hatred, no selfishness. The words He spoke at His death confirmed the truth of who He was and is.
Two passages seem like they would make a fitting conclusion:
Philippians 2:8-9, (8) He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.
Hebrews 5:8-9, (8) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (9) And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…