3: "Here is your mother. / Here is your son."
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." 1 Peter 2:1-3
"And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26
This morning, we continue in our study of those dramatic sayings of Christ on the Cross. The Seven Last Words segment Number 2.
The New Testament records 7 times when Jesus spoke while on the cross. These 7 last words reveal a great deal to us concerning the person of Christ, His suffering, His character, and certainly His mission.
From these last 7 words, we believers from these last 7 words, we believers can draw a great understanding about our salvation. We can draw comfort in our own suffering for Christ. We can draw courage in our witnessing ministry by our lives and our book, our words in Satan's antagonistic world.
The treatment received by Jesus Christ on Calvary was instigated by Satan, and it was the devil's final maximum effort to defeat Christ and to stave off his own loss of power of death over mankind. And he lost.
1: "Father, Forgive Them."
The first word that we have looked at is found in the Book of Luke 23:34. The first saying of Christ on the Cross. Luke 23:34 "But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing," Here the absolutely sinless God man, Jesus Christ, who spent His life guided by the Holy Spirit in divine good work service, is brutalized physically and treated with utter contempt. He should have been welcomed as Israel's long promised and long awaited for Messiah. Instead, He was rejected.
The reason for this abuse was that Jesus Christ knew the mind of God. He was a student of doctrine, and He lived accordingly. He would be known in our society today as a fundamentalist Christian right type of individual. The feelings of the religious leaders and the political forces opposed him, and they murdered Him simply to silence Him about the viewpoint of doctrine. Because Jesus was saying the government is acting improperly.
Here's what God says, and God's laws must override man's laws. The religious community opposed Him because Jesus said, you have missed the significance of the Word of God. You have fallen into legalism, and the realities of even the Mosaic Laws revelation have passed you by. That was a great offense to those who consider themselves authorities in spiritual things, and they did not like this upstart out of Nazareth telling them that they, the learned men were wrong; that they, the powerful people of the government were under the control of the forces of Satan."
John 15:18-19. Jesus said to give us orientation that "if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were in the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you." Please notice that Jesus said it's because I chose you out of the world that it hates you.
Most of Christendom and the people who are part of one church and another are not hated by the world because they've never left it. They're part of it. And when Christians move along in the world, they get very close and cozy with it. They don't have a problem with it. The world opens its arms and says, come were the dead ones, please serve us and Christians run into their bosom and embrace them.
Jesus said, no. They're going to spit upon you. They look at you with contempt. They're going to say evil things about you. They're going to reject you. They're going to find you an offense. They're not going to find you an inspiration. Jesus said they did that to Me because I was not part of the game. If the world hates you and it does, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you if you were part of this world system of Satan.
Please remember that part of the world system of Satan is all the organizations; all the structures, all the pieces that make up life in the world in which through which we move. Not all of those things that are there are in themselves evil.
A motion picture projector is not an evil thing. A film is not in itself an evil thing. It can be used for righteousness or it can be used for unrighteousness. But it's in the world's system. And this is the thing that is so tricky to be able, as Paul says, "we are in the world, but we're not of the world." Most Christians have never learned not to be of the world. They don't want to be strangers and pilgrims. They want to be up there, they're up to their armpits in the world. They're going to make it better. They're going to improve it. But all that's in the world is ungodliness.
I heard on a radio program this week where the concept of taxes in our country are so ungodly. One lady called in and said, you know, God required only 10 percent to be able to run society, but the American government requires over 30 percent in one way or another from every individual every year to run society. Now, how did we come about with those ungodly taxes? And the host said, Well, ma'am, you've answered your own question. God did require 10 percent to run his system of the world. That's the godly tax. The government requires 30 percent. That's the ungodly tax. That's an ungodly tax. That's where the word ungodly came from. That's where the whole concept of ungodly came.
Well, that's what Jesus is talking about. He says there are godly things, to use a thing like taxes, which can be godly, or can be used in an ungodly way. And the Christian has to always walk that narrow line, that thin, slim line of walking the godly way with the things that are in the world.
But there is great significance to the fact that Jesus Christ was rejected for the fact that He would not become part of the world's system.
Did He welcome the people of the world? Yes. When they responded to what was truth, when they responded to His instruction, they were embraced by him. But He did not seek their favor. In fact, on one occasion, when a group left Him and Scripture said that He did not commit himself, they were lauding him, and welcoming the Lord as someone who's going to meet their material needs.
Scripture says He knew what was in the heart of man; He did not give himself over to them. The Lord never trusted in the world system. Because of that, they hated him. They rejected him. He was not one of them. Yet here He is on the cross, and Jesus is asking His Father to carry Him successfully through the atonement process, the sin offering process, to provide the basis for the Father to be able to forgive those who at that time, at that very moment, were murdering His Son.
The prayer of Jesus was answered for all mankind, for whom He did pay the penalty of death for sin so that those who trust in Him can be saved from the Lake of Fire. What Jesus asked the Father to do to provide a basis by which those who choose to believe will be saved, the Father answered. The Son in His humanity did not fail. So 1 John 2:2 says, and He himself, Christ, is the propitiation, satisfaction, for our sins and not for ours, we Christians only, but also for the un-Christians of the whole world. He has provided the solution for the sin problem.
You see, there is this difficulty that we have as believers of thinking the godly line of thought.
I watched Meet the Press and on it was one of the candidates. Well, it was a candidate for president, and several members of Congress. And the question was asked what would they do if they could only pass one law or have a president currently sign one law? Would he sign reducing taxes or terminating abortion? And every one of them said terminate abortion. But their reasons were, interestingly, different.
Most of them said and the presidential candidate said the Declaration of Independence says that the government is to preserve our God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is more important than material things. Right on target. A godly statement, but not entirely on a godly basis. In a secondary way it was because the Declaration of the Independence was the product of godly men who had the frame of reference of Scripture when they wrote it.
But one candidate, a Roman Catholic of all things, said "Someday I must stand before God." And he had a little heart pacemaker, and he said, "I've got one of these in me. So someday I will face him. And I want to be sure that I will be able to adequately explain what I did relative this question. And I don't want to stand before Him and be asked, why did you not oppose the murder of a million and a half babies every year in the United States?"
And what he was speaking as a Roman Catholic was to demonstrate that he was worthy. His mind as a Catholic is "I must earn my way into heaven, I must pay my way." And that was his line of thinking. Well, at least it was biblical. He wasn't quite right; what he meant by it. But certainly that came closer to the truth. Why do I do what is right in this case? Because God has spoken on this subject and the world has spoken on this subject. The world is wrong and God is right. I want to do what God says, even though I may never get elected to office again.
I thought how perceptive the concept that man's laws must be subject to God's laws or man's laws are always going to be tyrannical. Well the society in which we live is not about to allow man's laws to be under subjection to God's laws. So always this will of the wisp of making society better as Christians, because we are getting in there up to our elbows in and getting involved. You're not going to make it.
They couldn't do it in New Testament time. Paul and Jesus and the apostles never got in up to their elbows in those things. But they did proclaim the Word of God. They did proclaim the body of Christ. They did proclaim the wonders of the church age privileges that were theirs.
So this was a great thing for Jesus to say. Father, carry Me through. I'm here to be the sin offering. I am the Lamb of God. For the sins of the world. Carry Me through. Then you may offer salvation to these very men who are so blind.
And that's where we have to pray. Father carry Me through in My mission. I'm surrounded by people who are so blind in spiritual things; so blind in spiritual things, so insensitive to that which is the implications of spiritual things.
The world is too much with us.
2: "Today you will be with Me in paradise."
The second word was in the gospel of Luke. Luke 23:43.
"And He", Jesus, "said to him", the believing thief, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." The 2 thieves with which Jesus was crucified, at first both joined the authorities, the religious and political authorities, in a mob at the foot of the cross in verbally abusing Jesus. After a while, one of the thieves was led by the Holy Spirit to repent, and he trusted in Jesus the Messiah for salvation. Jesus provided him with dying grace so that the suffering was there. Just because he now became a believer, he still had to pay for the capital crime of which he was guilty. He wasn't forgiven that. Death was the penalty he would still pay. But Jesus promised that that day he would join Christ in the joyous realm of Paradise in Hades.
The believing thief is a classic example of salvation by grace as a free gift from God directly through faith in Christ alone. It is not how good you are, or can become, or promise to be. It is how good Jesus Christ is, which is absolute righteousness. And that's what that thief was immediately given. The point of the second word is that there is a guarantee of salvation to all who will trust in Jesus Christ to save them, and trusting in nothing more? We come now to the third word.
3: "Here is your Mother. / Here is your Son."
This is in John, Chapter 19. John 19:25-27. "Therefore the soldiers did these things." That is dividing His garments among themselves. "But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby," John, in his gospel, refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, was standing nearby with Mary, the mother. "He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' From that hour, the disciple took her into his own household."
John had at first fled from Jesus with the rest of the disciples. But now he returns to the cross. For some reason, the Bible never explains why Jesus had a very tender spot in His heart for John. In John 13:23 this is indicated. "There was reclining on Jesus's breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved." That disciple by that very term, again, we know was John. People in Roman society ate by reclining on couch like structures. And Jesus is reclining and John's leaning back on the Lord as they're eating and speaking.
Now, the other disciples were not as close a relationship to Christ. In John 20:2, "So she ran and came." That is Mary Magdalene ran and came "to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved." There we have John again, "and said to them, 'they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.'"
In John 21:7, "That disciple, therefore, whom Jesus loved, said to Peter. 'It is the Lord.'" This is when they found the catch of fish they were able to make when the Lord appeared to them after the resurrection and told them where to drop their nets. "So, when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on, (for he was stripped for the work) and threw himself into the sea." But here again, that reference to John as one who is special to Jesus.
One more reference is in John 21:20, "Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back on the breast at the supper and said, 'Lord, who is the one who betrays you?"
Here again it is. We're reminded of that incident at the Last Supper, and that it was John. Peter was down the line from the table, and was not close to ask the Lord. So he signaled John in some way. Ask him, who is it? And it was John who posed that question that Jesus said. One of you is going to betray me. "Who is it?" It was John that asked the question because he felt free to do it, and so on. The rest of the passage goes on. Peter says, what's going to happen to this man? Because Jesus had been telling them a little bit about their future. Verse 22 said, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" You follow me! And Jesus said whatever happens to this man John, My disciple, I have a mission for him. But that doesn't concern you. You just follow Me with your mission.
Well, of course, John's mission was very, very special. He's the only one that died a natural death. He was the one who wrote the magnificent final view of history in the Book of the Revelation.
Now, some of the women, including the mother of Jesus, were also at the cross with John and Mary. The mother suffered great grief upon seeing her son Jesus, a truly good man, being executed with enormous cruelty and for no reason. In Luke 1:35, Mary at the Annunciation that she would conceive this child was told of this. "The angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy Offspring shall be called the Son of God."
In Luke 2:25, the child is brought to the temple. Simeon sees Him and in his thanks to God that the prophecy promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Verse 35, he speaks of this child. And then in verse 35, he says, "and the sword will pierce even your own soul", speaking to Mary, "... a sword will pierce, even your own soul." So Mary had these indications that something terrible was going to come about in the relationship with this mother that would bring great grief to her with her son.
In John 15:25, "But they have done this to Jesus," that is, "they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause." Psalm 69:4 is what Jesus is quoting there. That's where He picks up that phrase. "They hated Me without a cause." That is such a poignant statement that Christ was hated. He was abused. The sword pierced through Mary with the crucifixion of her Son, all for no reason from hatred without any cause.
Psalm 69 is a psalm that is describing the agonies of David. But as happens, sometimes a Scripture has an immediate application. Then it also has a distant application. You have that throughout Psalm 69. One of the things that's interesting, fascinating reading this. We read this recently in our faculty morning prayer meeting that it tells us what Christ was thinking about. And here again, as in Psalm 22, what could carry this good man through this horrible, horrible agony, not only the physical suffering, but that terrible time from noon to 3:00 o'clock, when God the Father and God the Holy Spirit turned away from him, and Christ died spiritually. He was totally separated from the Godhead as He was burying the sins of all mankind. It was that spiritual suffering as well as the physical.
In Psalm 69, again, we have glimmers of what went on in His mind. And He was thinking of this doctrinal principle, this doctrinal principle. Here is the promise of God. Here's what's going to happen. I carry through on this. I remain faithful. The result will be this... Magnificent. Even the God man in His humanity could not make it in life without feeding upon the Word of God.
And how many Christians are sitting in churches now chewing on corn husks? Because no one is feeding the Word of God. And how many Christians who once sat in these chairs feeding upon that nourishing food of the kernels of the Word of God are off chewing on corn husks because they're having a delightful fun time with Country Club churchy entity.
Jesus Christ could not make it without doctrine. That's why He said, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." How many Christians violate that? Just think what Christians do for bread and expand that to material possessions. Expand that to wealth. If it comes to making a choice where they have a power to choose to be in church or to be out there after some material activity and some material possession, they'll go with the material every time. If they have a Christian service opportunity and some system of the world, some activity of the world structure, which in itself may be not evil but becomes evil when it interferes, comes between them and God. The parents will say, oh yeah, you go with the thing of the world. That's more important. Your loyalty to them is first, not to Christ. They would never put that in so many words, but the kid picks it up.
Mary had seen this Son stay true to His mission, always putting even when He was a little kid, even as a teenager, always putting Christ first, always doing the thing that was right. Mary's agony here is compounded by the fact that she could not even ease the suffering of her son hopelessly standing by and watching Him die, comforted only by the memory of the divine revelations that were given in His birth, where she was told that her son was going to have such a magnificent future. Again, the promises and the doctrines of the Word of God would carry the mother through.
In Luke 1:30-33, where the Annunciation was made by an angel, "the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus, and He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and His kingdom will have no end.' To Mary this was a magnificent declaration. Unbelievable. She will bear a male child and this boy will be the son of God. And this boy will fulfill the promise to the people of Israel to have a messiah who will reign over them forever in an eternal kingdom over the Jewish nation. And there it is. That was the promise.
So even as she saw Him die, she knew, just as Abraham did when he was about to plunge the knife into Isaac and offer him up as a sacrifice, that even if the boy died, the boy was essential to fulfilling God's promises to create a great nation of descendants from Abraham. The boy had to be resurrected. Abraham said, How can I lose? I will do what He tells me, and He will raise the child, because He will keep His promise.
So too Mary said, I don't understand this. He's dying before our eyes. How will He ever reign upon Israel's throne? But she knew that the promises of God are amen and amen. They are going to be kept.
Now, the Christian who does not know the promises of God is a low life kid. The low lifestyle among Christians is they don't know the promises of God because they don't know the doctrines of God. Therefore, they cannot orient their lives to the things above. And they go from one difficulty here on this earth to another, one thing falling apart to another. And they can't get it together. And they wonder why.
Well, Jesus observes Mary and John, standing at the foot of the cross. Jesus told Mary to look upon John as her son and John to look upon Mary as his mother. And you should note that in that statement He addresses His mother Mary as woman.
She is woman. She is not the mother of God. She is the mother only of His humanity. Roman Catholicism is quite wrong to create the image that Mary is the mother of God. And that is why this adulation of Mary, the exaltation of her to the point where she is a Co-Redemtrix with Christ is wrong. Mary was a sinner, and she spoke about the fact that she needed salvation. In Luke 1:46-47, "And Mary said, 'My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior." What is she saying? She said I'm a lost sinner, I need a savior. And here God has chosen me to choose the one who will become the savior that I need.
In 1854, the Pope sat upon his throne in St. Peter's Basilica, with that great big round sun image, with the lines of rays of light going out from it, in commemoration, of course, of the Sun God, which is the basis of Roman Catholicism's inheritance of Nimrod's religion, which worshiped the sun. And on that throne in 1854, he declared a new doctrine that all Catholics must believe upon pain of excommunication. And that is, that Mary was born without a sin nature. The theologians had researched this, and God had revealed to the Pope that Mary was born immaculate. And thus came the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary. And that is the way the Roman Catholics explained that Mary bore an immaculate son, a son without a sin nature because she was without a sin nature. Now we won't get into the nonsense of that totally non-biblical basis of that, except to point out that Mary knew very well she needed a savior. There was nothing immaculate about her.
Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church has expanded upon that concept in 1950, within the lifetime of some of us here. The Pope sat on his throne again. This was the last time he's made a new declaration for Catholics to believe, and that was that she sits at His right hand in heaven. There is no indication of that in Scripture. This was a woman, the mother of the humanity of Christ, and He loved her dearly. And He looked upon her and His heart went out to her because of the concern that He had for her after He was gone. He did not even address her as mother. He called her woman. But He was concerned for this surviving parent. His foster father, Joseph, was apparently dead by this time. And in spite of the pressures of the moment, He had a familial obligation to care for her, and He did. Jesus is now at a dramatic moment of fulfilling the mission for which He came. Yet He obeyed the Word of God at that point in time, to honor His parents.
This was declared to the Jewish people back in Exodus 20:12. And He obeyed the Law of Moses, always. With His foster father dead, there was no one to take care of the mother. And in the ancient world, a widow was in a very hazardous position, often of cruel poverty. Jesus did not deliver His mother, as one might have expected since He was the senior son, to deliver His mother to one of the other brothers. Because the brothers were unbelievers.
John 7:3-5. This is upon the occasion of Jesus going to Jerusalem near the end. "His brothers, therefore said to Him, 'Depart from here and go into Judea that your disciples also may behold your works, which you are doing." The 4 brothers here, are ridiculing Him. "For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." If you have these powers you claim, demonstrate them. Then verse 5 says, "for not even His brothers were believing in Him."
You want to talk about the blindness of the sin nature? Here's a boy that they knew all their lives. He was their senior, He was their elder brother, never seen Him do anything wrong, never joined in with what boys do. Always a clean cut, godly, honorable person, nothing ungodly about Jesus Christ.
And these brothers, because of their sin nature, had to dislike Him, had to hold Him in contempt. They could not say you're the role model. You're the one we want to be like. So He didn't put His mother in the care of those brothers and it certainly would not have been suitable to put her in the care of His half-sisters any more than these half-brothers?
Here, again, is a problem for Roman Catholicism, which says Mary never bore any other children except Jesus, because if you have immaculate conception, she bears any other children, they're going to be sinless, too. So they eliminate these Scriptures completely. You know, they're very clear. Elsewhere it mentions about His sisters. In fact, when He began His ministry, people said in His hometown, who is this Jesus? He's a carpenter down the street here. We know His brothers and His sisters. Who is He to speak to us as the voice of God? So He put His mother where she would have spiritual care. It wasn't just physical care she needed. She needed to have spiritual compatibility and for nurturing her soul in fellowship with John.
Mary was really left at this point in time to her true family. Jesus indicated that His real family were those who trusted in Him as savior. Those are the ones who composed a family of God. He pointed this out in Matthew 12:48-50. Matthew 12:48-50, "But He answered the one who was telling Him and said," This is on occasion where His mothers and brothers were standing outside where Jesus was speaking. He answered the one who was telling Him that they were there. "Who is My mother and who are My brothers? And stretching out His hand toward His disciples," These who are believers, "He said, 'Behold My mother and My brothers, for whosoever does the will of My Father, who is in heaven, He is My brother and sister and mother." The first step in doing the will of God is trusting in Christ as far as one's personal savior.
So John, as a believer, was really already part of Mary's family. John was her son in the Lord as Christians today are brothers and sisters in the Lord. As older men and women have younger believers as their sons and daughters in the Lord. And as the younger believers have the older believers, as their parents in the Lord. Talk about godparents! Those are the real godparents! And you have them all around you.
So the true family of a believer is those who are gathered at the cross of Jesus Christ, the born again ones. John and Mary knew Jesus very well. John knew Christ so intimately in His deity. Mary knew Him so intimately in His humanity. And Jesus did not arrange for the care of His mother sooner than that point on the cross perhaps to emphasize the fact that the family has to be based upon the principle of the cross or there is no family. And we all know that we have people in our families that we have no real familial relationship in the degree that we have with other Christians with whom we have no blood relationship. But we have a very close relationship to other believers in Christ because that is a family formed at the foot of the cross. And that is the real family that all of us have on earth. Our human families often will treat us the way that half-brothers of Jesus treated Him.
So you should be extra nice to the Christian family, in fact, that is what the Bible says. Do good unto all men, but especially to those of the household of faith. John had a way in his writings of Scripture, of reflecting much deeper meanings with events that were taking place and the statements that Jesus made. For example, here's a surface meaning, but it has a greater significance than just what that surface statement is applying to. In John 3:3, the term born again means born from above. And that indicates that the new birth is a product of God's doing, not man's doing.
In John 12:32, it speaks about Christ being lifted up, lifted up for all mankind to come to. And it was a code word for being placed upon the cross in sacrifice and in exaltation of victory over Satan. He talked about being lifted up before mankind, the code for being put on the cross. In John 11:47-52, Caiaphas made the statement that it is better for one man to die for the nation than for the nation to die as a whole. And he was applying to the fact that if they did not do something to this man that was calling himself the King of the Jews, the Romans would bring death to the nation. So here was again a double meaning.
In John 6:1-15. Jesus feeds the five thousand, which signifies Him as the bread provider. Secondary meaning, the provider of the bread of life (John 6:35). In John 9:5-7, Jesus gives physical light to the blind man's eyes and thus presents the symbol of Himself as the light of the world. In John 11:25, and 43-44, Jesus is shown raising Lazarus to life, and thus symbolically portraying Himself as the resurrection and the life. And in John 18:38-40, Barabbas is released from the prison of death because Jesus was selected to die in His place. And so with believers, Christ died for us.
So John has a way of presenting something and then showing us how this illustrates something spiritual, a deeper meaning. And perhaps that's why Christ made the decision about His mother there at this last moment situation, because He was demonstrating that it's at the foot of the cross that a true family is to be found.
So the deeper significance was that from the death of Jesus Christ would come their salvation, that death was their common bond between Mary and John. And the broader Christian family is the product of the Cross of Jesus. Galatians 6:10 says, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Because they are your true family. If you're going to treat your blood family in a proper way, then treat the family of Jesus Christ, especially, in a very significant way.
The significance of the third word then is that there is no limit on the divine rule to honor one's parents by caring for them as needed, including, first of all, their spiritual well-being, and that the cross is the ground of our true family, our unity and our duty to one another.
Dr. John E. Danish, 1999
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