SEVEN WORDS TO THE CROSS
Seven Words To The Cross.It is a known fact that the words we speak or write reveal our inner thoughts, personalities, and character. The words spoken by us and to us at key moments of our lives have a special significance – for example the last seven words of Jesus from the cross have been reflected upon repeatedly down through the ages. As it is, in life and in death, Jesus’ words were powerful and meaningful. In this article we shall reflect on the words spoken to the cross as compiled by Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book Life of Christ.
We will look at these seven words in three sets:
- Five of the seven words to the cross are as follows:
Matt 27:39-40 Those who passed by hurled insults at him,…………… Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
Luke 23:39 One of the criminals ………………Save yourself and us!"
Matt 27:41-42 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him…………Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
Mark 15:36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, ………… Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.
Luke 23:36-37 The soldiers also came up and mocked him…………… "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
These words were addressed to Jesus, by the soldiers, the unrepentant criminal, the chief priests, the teachers of the law, the elders, and even the crowd, while he was hanging on the cross. They reflect the ingratitude, callousness, rejection and rebellion of mankind. Jesus had come into the world to rescue mankind from sin, but people, instead of thanking him for it, sneered and jeered at him. They even demanded that he be put to death by crucifixion. The Bible, through the many foreshadowings, symbols and prophesies, shows that it was the eternal plan of God to save man through the shedding of blood and crucifixion. Some of the scripture references are mentioned alongside - Gen 3:21, Exo 12:13, Isaiah 53:5 and Psalms 22.
We know that right through his life Jesus had to undergo one test after another but while hanging on the cross he faced the most difficult one. The people wanted him to come down from the cross and save himself and them. This would go against the plan of God and his mission would not be accomplished. They even accepted to become his disciples, but Jesus, knowing that the plan of salvation was at stake, did not accede to their demand and stuck to his post. Jesus knew, the devil was behind all these provocations who never wanted Him to die on the cross because that would mean the accomplishment of God’s plan and the end of devil’s reign.
It was for this reason that God rewarded Jesus as Paul tells us in Phil 2:8-11
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- The sixth of the seven words to the cross is:
Luke 23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
The above words of the repentant thief indicate his belief that Jesus was the Messiah; that, though he was dying with them, yet he would set up his kingdom; and that he had the power to bless him. Thus he was in line for the blessing of the scriptures which Paul talks about in Rom 10:9-11
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
This however was a case of repentance in his final hour, the trying hour of death; and it has been remarked that one was brought to repentance there, to show that no one should despair on a dying bed; at the same time none should be presumptuous and delay repentance to that awful moment because no one knows when the hour of death will come.
The words of Jesus to the repentant thief in response to his request are words of hope as they assure us that there is hope even for the vilest of sinners and that no one is beyond God’s mercy.
- The seventh word to the cross:
Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, …………… "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
This climactic declaration was made by the Roman Centurion, who along with his men carried out the crucifixion of Jesus. He must have witnessed scores of persecutions, but the death of Jesus was indeed mysterious for the following reasons:
Even in His dying moments Jesus prayed for his persecutors – "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
He did not speak abusive words nor did he curse anybody.
The strength he possessed at his death evidenced by his loud cry "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" was unheard from a crucifixion.
All this coupled with the earthquake that coincided with the death of Jesus convinced the centurion that “Jesus was the Son of God.”
This confession of the centurion was not just an empty utterance of the lips but it came from a heart that had experienced the proceedings first hand.
The centurion too, like the repentant thief, became a recipient of the scriptural blessing of 1 John 4:15
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
At Golgotha around the cross were soldiers, chief priests, the elders, teachers of the law, unrepentant criminal, and the crowd who mocked and hurled insults at Jesus. This section of people did not accept God’s provision in Jesus but chose to remain in their sins. On right was the criminal who repented and begged for mercy thus winning a place in paradise and the centurion who was blessed with God’s presence because he acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God.
Where do you stand?