On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Final Words from the Cross
Oct. 12, 2014
At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” — which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine and vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (Mark 15:33-37, NIV)
But Jesus’ cry from the cross is more than one of being abandoned. It shows Jesus is praying through Psalm 22, written by King David 1,000 years before Him. Read the Psalm, and you will see that while it begins with being forsaken, it ends with triumph: “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn — for he has done it.”
On the cross, Jesus knows that He will win the victory for us. In His most difficult hours He tells us of His relationship with the Father by using the personal pronoun twice: “My God, my God.” In our own moments when we feel abandoned by God or others, let’s follow the example of Jesus. Even when the heavens are dark, we are not alone. God is still our God!
The other Gospels tell us of three other short utterances Jesus makes in His very dying minutes.
His fifth word from the cross was, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28). Jesus had refused a pain-alleviating drink at the beginning (Mark 15:23) in order to experience the full measure of the cross and to remain alert to speak from the cross. Mother Teresa took these words of Jesus’ thirst as a theme for her own life, saying, “Our acts of love are meant to satisfy the thirst of Jesus.”
Jesus’ sixth word from the cross is, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He does not say, “I am finished.” Rather, the work He came to do is forever done!
A young man approached an evangelist after the last night of a gospel meeting. The crowd had already been dismissed, but the young man implored, “What must I do to be saved?” The old evangelist replied, “You’re too late.”
“Too late?” the young man asked. “Surely not just because the meeting is over!” The wise evangelist replied, “What must you DO to be saved? You’re hundreds of years late. It is finished. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!”
Jesus died a victor with a word of triumph on His lips. All hell heard it and trembled. All heaven heard it and rejoiced!
Finally, Jesus recites a phrase from Psalm 31:5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” — the first bedtime prayer every Jewish child learned to say. Jesus makes one change. He adds to the prayer, “Father” (Luke 23:46). That one word makes all the difference. God is personal. Even in death, our lives are in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father.
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark