- 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
Pilate sought to release Him, but pressure from the Jews was too much. Tiberius Caesar had given control of the empire to Sejanus while Tiberius retired on the island of Capri. But Sejanus wanted power so he replaced the generals and governors with those who were his friends and then schemed a plot to assassinate Tiberius. When this was finally discovered, Sejanus was arrested and killed and then Tiberius ordered an investigation to discover who was a friend of Caesar and who was a friend of Sejanus.
Pilate had little choice and gave the Jewish leaders what they wanted. But 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 which Jesus suffered.
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 Jesus took in our place.
But this is the heart of the gospel; the good news is that Jesus died and suffered in our place. The great dilemma of men is what to do with our sins. We were born into a world broken by sin and darkness, and each one has added his own sin, but God is the One who pays the penalty for our sin Himself.
When Jesus was on the cross He said seven different things and each of those words show us God's heart. But it’s personal, these words show us 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 final 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.” Others are interesting. Thomas Jefferson said, “Is this the fourth?” Gen. John Sedgwick, killed during a battle in the Civil War said, "They couldn't kill an elephant at this dist…”
But then there are others that help us understand that in Jesus we have 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 Jesus scourged, 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 words Jesus spoke from the cross. And immediately we see 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."
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.”
- 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 comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
- Forgiveness is so freeing.
Illus – Don’t hold on to offense and become bitter, they may not even realize the degree of hurt they caused… You get cut off in traffic and fume while they are oblivious, and then you get to work and take it out on everyone else. You then walk around always bitter.
- Don’t nail people to their offense, lay it down at the foot of the cross.
B. “You will be with me in paradise”
- Matthew tells us that Jesus was crucified with two robbers, 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, Jesus gave him eternal hope
Luke 23:42-43 “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
- 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 Jesus said, “You will be with Me…”
John 14:1-3, "… that where I am, there you may be also."
- The next 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…
- We are made for relationship. When I went to OSU I joined a fraternity because it felt like family. That need can get us into a lot of trouble.
- In Christ we have a family with the same heart and desire. “There is a friend that is closer than a brother.”
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.
Isaiah 59:2, Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God; your sins have hidden His face from you…
Matthew 25:30, “Throw out that worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Illus – Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robinson, was once a very bad person and found himself in darkness.
- After that, Jesus called out the famous words, “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.
- 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, 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, it 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.
Illus - Imagine how our lives would be changed if we truly understood what it meant to live closer to God. The way of the transgressor is hard, but the way of the Lord is life and peace.
Illus – He is with us to help us live better lives! Some however, would prefer God go on a missions trip so they can finish the show they shouldn’t be watching.
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. “I thirst”
- In these words you see His humanity; but we also see a picture of what sin does to the soul.
Illus – Thirst is powerful. When I had a ruptured appendix I really felt it. It’s also the power of an empty soul.
- An empty soul makes people driven by thirst and they search in wrong places for water for 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.’”
C. “It is finished”
- 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.”
- His final words begin with “Father.” Because of the death of Jesus on the cross we can also call Him Father. That’s why He died.
John 19:1-30 NASB
1 Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3 and they began to come up to Him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and to give Him slaps in the face. 4 Pilate came out again and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him." 5 Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold, the Man!" 6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, "Crucify, crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God."
16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. 17 They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."