- Sermon Notes
Famous Last Words
Last week Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate who had to decide what to do with Jesus. In fact, one of the most famous sayings from that trial was when Pilate said, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"
Pontius Pilate was in a difficult place. He didn't want to have to make this decision. In his heart he knew that Jesus was innocent and that they had only brought Him before Pilate because of envy. At one point he became afraid.
John 19:7-8, The Jews answered, "… He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God." Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?"
Pilate sought to release Him, but the pressure from the Jews was too much. Finally, taking a basin and some water, he washed his hands in front of them all, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood."
He then had Jesus scourged and delivered Him to be crucified. The cruelty of crucifixion was infamous, but there was great mockery added to the cruelty as we see from this chapter in Matthew.
This account of the crucifixion and the views that we see from the other Gospels tell us of the great suffering of our Lord. This was the cup of the wrath of God that He spoke of. This was the cup that each of us deserved to drink because of our sins.
But this is the message of the gospel, the good news is that Jesus died and suffered in our place. This is the great dilemma of men. What do we do with our sins? We were born into a world broken by sin and darkness and each of us must come to understand that God is the One who pays for our sin Himself.
When Jesus was being crucified He said seven different things and each of those words give us insight into God's heart and they become insights into God's heart for us.
In fact, I suggest that because of the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross and the words He declared during his crucifixion, it completely changes our last words as well.
Illus – Here are some famous last words: Elizabeth I, Queen of England, "All my possessions for a moment of time." Thomas Hobbes, writer, "I'm about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark." Edgar Allen Poe, writer, "Lord, help my poor soul." One of the more interesting was Gen. John Sedgwick, killed during a battle in the Civil War, "They couldn't kill an elephant at this dist…”
But then there are others that help us understand that Christ's suffering gave us the glory of dying well. Martyn Lloyd Jones, "Don't pray for healing; don't hold me back from the glory." D.L. Moody, "Earth recedes, Heaven
opens before me! If this is death, it is sweet. God is calling me, and I must go."
I remember when my own father died. What a difference faith made. He had wasted most of his life and separated himself from those who tried to love him. But his eyes finally opened and he came to faith in Christ at 75 years old. And when he died at 79 years old, his family was by his side holding his hands. And I remember praying as he took his last breath, "Father, into Your hands, I commend his spirit."
I. By His Great Love We’re Given His Life
- After they had scourged Jesus, they led him down the Via Delarosa, the way of suffering, but along the way, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.
- This man from North Africa had found himself in a divine appointment. No doubt he had come for the Passover, but the blood of Christ applied to him would be something he would only later understand.
- He stayed in Jerusalem to find out more about this man and as he watched Him on the cross and heard those words of our Lord, the eyes of his heart began to open. In fact, later, his sons Alexander and Rufus become leaders in the church that God begins to build.
- What he must have said to his wife and sons when he came back home. "I saw Him, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I carried His cross. You should have seen His eyes."
A. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”
- These were the first of the seven words that Jesus spoke from the cross at Calvary. And immediately we have an insight into God's heart; it's about forgiveness.
- It's hard for us to imagine how these words would be possible, but these are the words that show us the way of God, not only toward us, but how He wants us to be toward others.
Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;"
- It’s interesting that Jesus said, "They know not what they do."
1 Corinthians 2:8, … wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
Zechariah 12:10, "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son."
- But the heart of the Lord in forgiveness is the same heart that He desires in us knowing that if we do not forgive, we are allowing a root of bitterness to come up in our lives.
Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one come short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
B. "You will be with me in paradise"
- Matthew tells us that Jesus was crucified with two robbers, one on the right and one on the left, and they were hurling abuse at him as well.
- But Luke wrote that one of them began to change and in that change of heart, Christ gave him eternal hope.
Luke 23:39-43 "Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom."
- Many people seem to get hung up on the idea of heaven, not understanding what Jesus explained to His disciples.
- Many people imagine heaven to be what they think Earth should be, only better; a place of beautiful golf courses, or perfect lakes for fishing, or gourmet meals, etc.
- But what Jesus said was, "You will be with Me…"
John 14:1-3, "… that where I am, there you may be also."
- The third words of Jesus on the cross demonstrate the same heart for relationship. Jesus made a point of taking care of His mother.
John 19:26, When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, 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 household.
II. By His Great Love We’re Given His Death
- At first, those words may seem a bit strange. Why would God want to give us Jesus's death?
- But there are several scriptures that give us the insight we need to understand. One of the simplest verses we know is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish…"
- Our sins would cause us to perish, to be condemned, to be excluded from the life of God.
A. He was forsaken instead of us
- There was darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour; from 12 noon until 3 PM. This was not a solar eclipse since the full moon of the Passover would have put the moon out of place for an eclipse.
- But all of this is a picture of Christ taking our place and suffering instead of us. The darkness would have been the consequence we would have suffered for our own sins.
Matthew 25:30, "Throw out that worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
- After that, Jesus called out the famous words in verse 46, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," meaning, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?
- The Jewish leaders would immediately have recognized those words from Psalm 22, an amazing Psalm written by David that foretells the way that the Messiah would be killed.
Psalm 22:1, 16, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?… A band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.
- But by Christ being forsaken in our place, He makes a way so that we might be brought near to a living relationship with God.
- In fact, in verse 51, Matthew wrote, "Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom."
- The veil in the Temple is what kept everyone separated from the holiest place in the Temple, the place where His glory dwelt. And by God making a way for us to have relationship with Him, makes all the difference in our lives.
Ephesians 2:13, But now in Christ Jesus you who were formally were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 10:19-22 Let us draw near by a new and living way.
Illus - Imagine how our lives would be changed if we truly understood what it meant to live in the presence of God. The way of the transgressor is hard, but the way of the Lord is life and peace.
Isaiah 30:21, Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
B. “It is finished”
- These last three words spoken by the Lord on the cost are also extremely significant for us. At one point He said, "I thirst."
- In this we see His humanity; dehydration would've caused his tongue to stick to the roof of His mouth; even that was prophesied in Psalm 22. But in that we also see a picture of what sin does to the soul.
John 7:37, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’"
- And then He declared in a loud voice, "Tetelestai,” meaning, "It is finished.”
- It is over, it is finished, the debt for our sin has been paid; now there is reason to rejoice, reason to shout, reason to respond in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Some suggest that after Christ died he descended into hell where he suffered at the hands of Satan's demons for three days. I completely reject that idea. First of all, Jesus said, "It is finished." Second, Satan is not the captain of hell, that's the stuff of movies and jokes. But third, Jesus also said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
- In those words we see that complete trust that we should also have. May we also be able to say, "Father, into Your hands, I commit my entire life."
Matthew 27:27-50 NASB
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.