LIFE OF CHRIST

PART 95

 

In our last lesson, Jesus was led the cross to be crucified and we discussed His first saying, which was, ďFather, forgive them, for they do not know what they doĒ (Lk. 23:34). Jesus had this forgiving spirit for all these people who had done horrible things to Him, but while he was hanging between two thieves in horrible pain, we see the people and even thieves that are hanging with Him add to His misery.

 

Matthew 27:39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said,`I am the Son of God.'" 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

 

Mark 15:29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 "save Yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 "Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

 

Luke 3:36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself." 38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew1: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 

Here we see four different groups of people who are taking their turns at making Jesusí first 3 hours on the cross as miserable as it can be as He hung there from 9 a.m. to noon. The first group was the common people. Apparently, the false rumor had spread that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days because this is what they were accusing Him of. Basically, they were saying if you have the power to do that, then surely you have the power to save yourself from this crucifixion. While they were mocking Him, what they didnít understand is that He did have this power, but He choose to stay on that cruel cross to not only fulfill the will of the Father, but to give all mankind the ability to be saved from their sins.

 

The second group were the Jewish leaders who played their part in getting Him upon the cross. They admitted something about Jesus that maybe they didnít mean to when they said that He was able to save others, but is not able to save Himself. These Jewish leaders knew full well that Jesus had done miracles that could not be explained away, yet they would believe in Him. In fact, once they tried to say He got His power from the ruler of the demons, which He quickly dismissed.

 

The third group were the two thieves. Even they mocked Him even though they were being crucified right along with Him. Maybe they thought they might die with some dignity by taking the focus off them and putting it all on Jesus. However, we will see in just a minute that one of the thieves changes his mind about all of this.

 

The fourth group were the soldiers. They offered Him sour wine and mocked Him. They also challenged Jesus to save Himself. What misery this must have been for Jesus. I donít know how much time has passed from both thieves mocking Jesus to what we are about to read, but we do know it happened sometime within a 3-hour span.

 

The second thing Jesus said from the cross is found in,

 

Luke 23:39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

 

Again, this was prophesied by Isaiah in Isa. 53:12.At first both these thieves were mocking Jesus, but this one thief had a change of heart and He defended Jesus. Because the thief had a change of heart, Jesus assured Him that he would be in paradise with Him that day. Jesus had the authority to do this. This saying teaches us that when we die, we do not cease to exist. Yes, our lives here on earth are over, but we begin a new life as we wait in paradise if we are Christians.

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If we are not a Christian, Jesus taught us in the story of the rich man and Lazarus that we will be waiting in an awful place of torment. Of course, this entire area is called the Haden realm and it is the waiting place for all the souls that have passed on until the day of Judgment.

 

Again, we learn from the story of the rich man and Lazarus and other Scriptures that we do not soul sleep because we are aware of our surroundings. Whether it be a place of comfort or torment is up to you because you can choose to serve God or not to serve Him.

 

We can also learn from our text where Jesusí soul would be after His death because He told the thief "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Paradise is located in the Haden realm, but it is the place of comfort. It is where Lazarus was taken, which is also called Abrahamís bosom in Luke 16:22. Later, Peter declared that Jesus soul did indeed go to the Haden realm:

 

Acts 2:30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

 

There are many reasons we can know that He did not go to the part of the Haden realm that the rich man went to, but one quick thing that make this obvious is that Jesus would have been giving that thief some bad news because He told the thief he will be with Him that day.

 

Before we leave this saying of Jesus, I want to point out that some use this example to say that the thief was saved without baptism, therefore baptism does not save. This is the most common argument people use, but as we are about to learn, it is one of the weakest arguments a person could use because it does not apply to us today.

 

Everything we know about these two thieves is recorded in the four Gospels (Mat. 27:38, 44; Mk. 15:27-28, 32; Lk. 23:32-33, 39-43; Jn. 19:18, 32). Those who use the thief on the cross argument assume this thief had not been baptized. However, based on the knowledge of this thief, itís possible that he was taught about Jesus and the kingdom to come by either John the Baptist or others. Itís also possible that he was baptized with Johnís baptism. Matthew records the following about John the Baptist,

 

ďThen Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins (Mat 3:5-6).Ē

 

So, itís possible this thief was one of those that had come to John. However, based on the information we have, we cannot dogmatically say if this thief was or was not baptized. Just as I canít say for sure that he was baptized, neither can those who use the thief on the cross argument prove that he wasnít baptized.

 

We must also understand that each period of Biblical time has its own unique set of laws. For instance, those under the patriarchal period were not required to be baptized or to partake of the Lordís Supper. Those under the Law of Moses had to offer up animal sacrifices and give tithes, but Christians are not required to do this because we are under the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21).

 

So, when Jesus was on the earth, it was a unique period of time. During Jesusí ministry, He had the unique ability and authority to forgive people of their sins. For instance, when the four friends brought the paralyzed man before Jesus, Mark records,

 

ďWhen Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you (Mk. 2:5)."

 

When Jesus said this, it caused quite a stir among the Jews, but Jesus told them,

 

"Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (Mk. 2:9-10)."

 

In this instance, the man was healed because of the faith of his four friends. If we are going to claim what Jesus did during His earthly ministry applies today, then we need to teach that our faith could cause Jesus to forgive our friendís sin. This would mean that our friend could be saved without belief, repentance or confessing Jesus as Lord. We know this is not true because Paul teaches us that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for what we have done (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

Another example would be when Jesus forgave the womanís sin who wept on Jesus feet, wiped them off with her hair, kissed them repeatedly, and anointed them with oil (Lk. 7:37-50). Again, this does not apply to us because we couldnít do this since Jesus is no longer on the earth. The same thing is true about the thief on the cross. When Jesus said he would be in paradise with Him, He had the authority to make such a claim. Even if the thief had not been baptized with Johnís baptism, Jesus could have forgiven him of his sins. Since this was a unique time that only happened while Jesus was alive on the earth, the thief on the cross cannot be used by anybody today to prove that baptism is not part of the salvation plan.

 

We must also consider that the only baptism the thief could have had was Johnís baptism because the baptism that Jesus commanded did not happen until after the cross when He gave The Great Commission (Mat. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). Before this new baptism came into to effect, Jesus had to die and it had to be taught.

 

ďFor where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives (Heb. 9:16-17).Ē

 

We can understand this because a personís will does not go into effect until they die and then it must be probated. While the thief died after Jesus, he was not alive to hear the New Testament probated. This is why this thief on the cross argument is so weak. He died on the cross before The Great Commission was commanded, so he could not have been baptized into Christ for remission of sins even if he wanted to. So, the thief on the cross cannot serve as an example for the Christian today because we are under the new covenant, which states that we must be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). Jesus Himself said:

 

Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

Next, is Jesusí 3rd saying from the cross:

 

John 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

Most of the time mothers will always stand by the childrenís side. Even when their sons or daughters have been involved in evil things and face many years in jail, they will still be there for them.

 

Mary had been given one of the greatest honors given to a mother and that was to be the mother of the Son of God. She knew who Jesus was, and she loved Him. She was not at the cross to mock Him, and she was not ashamed of Him. We can only imagine how difficult it was for her to see her Son suffering on the cross, wishing she could do something about it, but she could not. When Jesus was a baby, Mary was told that this would happen to Him,

 

Luke 2:34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against35 "(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

 

There is no doubt that Maryís soul had been pierced with a sword as she tried to take in all that Jesus was going through. Even though Jesus was is severe pain, He wanted to make sure that His mother was taken care of, so He asked John to do it, which shows how Jesus is always putting others before Himself. This is a message we are taught as well, because we are supposed to love one another and care for one another because we are all brothers and sisters in the family of God. Since Jesus asked John to take care of his mother it implies that His step-father was dead. Since His brothers did not believe in Him at that time, He apparently felt that John was the best man to take care of His mother.

 

Only John mentions Jesusí mother being at the cross. Jesusí acquaintances and the women who followed Him from Galilee were at the cross as well (Lk. 23:49), but four specific women are identified. Trying to identify two of these women is challenging because the information we have is vague. While I cannot be dogmatic about it, I will show the most logical approach to identifying these women.

Jn. 19:25

Sister of Jesusí mother

Mary the wife of Clopas

Mary Magdalene

Mk. 15:40

Salome

Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses

Mary Magdalene

Mt. 27:56

Mother of Zebedeeís sons

Mary the mother of James and Joses

Mary Magdalene

Mk. 16:1

Salome

Mary the mother of James

Mary Magdalene

Based on our chart it easy to see that Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus cast out seven demons (Mk. 16:9), was one of the women there, and we know that Jesusí mother was there.

In the middle of our chart John talks about Mary the wife of Clopas. ďAccording to tradition, Clopas was the same person as Alphaeus, the father of James the Less and of Joses (Matt. 10:3; Mark 15:40)Ē (Nelsonís New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 284). So, I believe a strong case can be made that John is talking about Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses.

Now we are left with the sister of Jesusí mother. When we compare Mk. 15:40 to Mt. 27:56, we can make a strong case that Salome is the mother of Zebedeeís sons James and John. If John is staying consistent with these other accounts, then Salome is the sister of Jesusí mother, which means James and John are Jesusí first cousins. Since we have no hard evidence that Johnís account is only mentioning the same women as the other accounts, I cannot be dogmatic about this. More women were there than these four, so it is possible the sister of Mary was some other woman than Salome, but it is also possible that she is her sister.

Jesus fourth saying comes from,

 

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.46 And 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?"

 

From noon until 3 p.m. there was darkness over all the land. This darkness was a miracle from God. Imagine being there at the cross and experience this great darkness knowing what was said about this man Jesus on the cross.

 

Some think this darkness was prophesied by Amos in:

 

Amos 8:9 "And it shall come to pass in that day," says the Lord GOD, "That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;

 

Though this message fits the situation, since it went dark starting at noon, it also fits how these prophets were talking about a dark day metaphorically when God would punish His people for their rebellion against God. Based on the context of Amos, I would not dogmatically say that it does point to this darkness at the cross, but I can say maybe it does because there are many prophecies that point to something in the near future and to the time of Christ.

 

Some try and explain away this darkness and say it was just an eclipse, but that is impossible because the Passover always took place at the time of the full moon, which is astronomically impossible for an eclipse. Also, an eclipse never lasts for 3 hrs. Though we do not need confirmation of this darkness from outside sources to believe it happened, we do have the darkness recorded.

Tertullian said:

In the same hour too, the light of day was withdrawn, when the sun at the very time was in his meridian blaze. Those who were not aware that this had been predicted about Christ, no doubt thought it an eclipse. You yourselves have the account of the world portent still in your archives! (Tertullian, Apology in the Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), Vol. III, p. 35.)

Pontius Pilate sent the following report to Tiberius, emperor of Rome:

And when he had been crucified, there was darkness over the whole earth, the sun having been completely hidden, and the heaven appearing dark, so that the stars appeared, but had at the same time their brightness darkened, as I suppose your reverence is not ignorant of, because in all the world they lighted lamps from the sixth hour until evening. And the moon, being like blood, did not shine the whole night, and yet she happened to be at the full. (Pontius Pilate, To Tiberius in Ibid., Vol. III, p. 463.)

 

So, there is no doubt that this did occur on that day, but why did God make the sun go dark for those last three hours of His Sonís crucifixion and why did He lift the darkness after His death? We also learn in Scripture when the end came and Jesus died, that there was also an earthquake that opened up the tombs of some of the dead saints (who were later raised from the dead after Jesus was), split rocks, and the massive veil that was somewhere around 60 feet high and as one unconfirmed source says 4 inches thick, was torn from top to bottom.

 

While we may never understand all the specific details of the darkness and these great miracles associated with Jesusí death. I believe we can firmly say that these great miracles were all done to show that this was not an ordinary crucifixion because it was the Son of God. There are many ideas that man has come up with of other reasons God made it dark, but they are simply that, manmade ideas. Even though I could make several points from this darkness that would sound logical, I am content with simply accepting that it was a sign from God to show that this was His Son being crucified.

 

Though the Bible does not specifically say why the veil was ripped in two, most conclude that since it was ripped from top to bottom at the death of Jesus that is shows that God did it because if man had done it would have been from bottom to top. The significance of this was to show that the Old way of doing things through temple worship was gone and now instead of one priest being able to enter into the presence of God through a veil, we must now enter into the presence of God through Jesus because He is the only way to gain access to the Father (Jn. 14:6).

 

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, ††††


Out of all things that happened on the cross, one of most perplexing statements that Jesus made was this:

 

46 And 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?"

 

Some questions are asked about this. For example, why would Jesus ask His Father why He forsook Him when He knew He was going to die as a sacrifice for all mankind? Was Jesus just having a weak moment? Did God actually separate Himself from Jesus for a short time while He was on the cross?

 

I did a lot of research on this question spoken by our Savior, and there are two basic ideas about it, and I am going to share both of them to you. Please understand that neither explanation I give you is a salvation issue, nor does it change the simple fact that Jesus died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice so that we could have the forgiveness of sin. The difficulty of Jesusí question is that the Scriptures do not paint a clear picture of why He asked the question and it forces us to make a conclusion on our own based on what can piece together from other Scriptures.

 

One of the more popular views that most teach on this goes like this:

 

Generally, brethren (including many able scholars in the Word) have explained that, because Jesus was "made to be sin" (2 Cor. 5:21; cf. John 1:29; Gal. 3:13; Isa. 53:10), God could no longer look upon Him and thus turned away from Him. They teach that it was not because of any sin the Christ had committed (Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 9:14; et al.) that God in some sense forsook His Son in this awful hour.Rather, He did so because the Lord bore the sins of all humanity for all time (Isa. 53:4-5,8,11-12).The sins of others which He bore did not make Him a sinner, but He was nonetheless laden with those sins on the cross.These brethren further reason that God either did forsake the Lord or He did not, and Jesus said He did.Moreover, God did not respond to Jesus' pleading question with a denial that He had forsaken Him. (Denton Lectures on Matthew)

 

Depending on who is explaining it to you, you may hear these very points or something slightly different, but the above is the core message of that view. I myself have said this very thing that since Jesus was having to bear our sins on the cross that God had to turn away because He cannot look at sin. I have also made the statement that when the Father separated Himself from Jesus that it was the hardest thing for Him to bear because it was the first time He had not been connected with the Father, which is why He made the statement He did. Now, I still believe that if Jesusí statement does mean that the Father had to separate Himself from His Son because He was being sacrificed for our sins, then it would have indeed been the most difficult time in Jesusí existence. Though this first explanation is the most popular, there is another valid explanation for what Jesus said.

 

The first thing that I want to point out is that while Jesus did bear our sins on the cross, this did not make Him a sinner, but simply made Him a sin offering. In other words, He did not take on the guilt of sin, but He bore the punishment of sin. The same thing can be seen in the O.T. when an animal like a goat would be sacrificed it did not have sin, but it bore the punishment of sin, which was death.

 

Here are some reasons Jesus may have not actually been separated from the Father while hanging on the cross.

 

Scripture shows that Jesus was sacrificed as man without sin.

 

Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

 

Paul tells us this:

 

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

 

It was Godís plan all along for Jesus die on the cross for us to become a sin offering. Since Jesus was carrying out the plan, this sacrifice was a sweet-smelling aroma to Him. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that the Father turned His back on Jesus or broke His connection with Him. This is something that has been surmised in connection with Jesus saying Why have you forsaken me? Here is what need to keep in mind, Jesus was fulfilling all those things that were prophesied about Him.

 

Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

 

What we learn is that Jesus was saying the very words that David penned in Psalm 22, which is a Psalm that talks about the many things that would happen to Jesus at the cross. I hope you will read this Psalm on your own, but I have highlighted a few of the verse from it:

 

Psalm 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?

 

Psalm 22:7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,8 "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"

 

Psalm 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.

 

All of these things and the things being said were happening as part of prophecy. The Jews of that day would have been familiar with that Psalm because the Psalms along with Law of Moses were taught. So, when Jesus quotes what David wrote, itís possible that He said this to take their minds back to Psalm 22 to let them know that these words were being fulfilled? So, this second explanation says that Jesus was not separated from the Father but spoke that question to point out that Psalm 22 was being fulfilled and that God was not going to rescue Him from dying physical though He would be raised from the dead later.

 

In what way was Jesus forsaken? The first view would say that the Father separated Himself from Jesus temporarily because God could not look upon the sin Jesus was being sacrificed for. The second view would say that He simply forsook Him in that He did not rescue Him from physical death though He would be raised from the dead in 3 days.

 

I want to repeat this again. Neither of these views take away from the simple fact that Jesus did died on the cross for our sins and made it possible for us to have the forgiveness of sins. Neither of these views are teaching that Jesus died spiritual on the cross as a sinner as some like to teach. If Jesus had died as a sinner instead of dying because of our sins, then He would not have ended up in Paradise as He told the thief He would because sinners end up with the rich man in Gehenna. I will leave it up to you to decide which view you think sounds correct because as far as I can tell, it does not really matter which one is correct since neither view takes away from what Jesus did for us on the cross.

 

I also know that Jesusí asking the question does not mean that He doubted the Father in anyway because on the cross, He prayed to the Father to forgive them, He knew that He would be in Paradise that day, and as we will see, His last statement is spoken to His Father, when He puts His spirit into His hands.

 

There are three more saying from the cross that we must examine, but we will have to wait until our next lesson since we are out of time. I hope these lessons on what Jesus said from the cross and what He endured for us motivates you to live your life more for Jesus since He was willing to give up His very life for you.