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John 19:16-30

Famous Last Words

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 24, 2024

Today we remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. God had been leading up to this event from the very beginning. Jesus had an appointment with history. God’s Son, whom He sent to seek and save that which was lost, had come to fulfill that very purpose by entering Jerusalem on the exact day appointed by His Father. 

In other words, God had set His course. Jesus’s entry into the city of Jerusalem that day and the events that followed during that week were ordained and established by God before the foundation of the world. He came to set captives free from the bondage and condemnation of sin. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him would have eternal life!

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  • Scripture

Famous Last Words
John 19:16-30
March 23-24, 2024 

     Today we remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. God had been leading up to this event from the very beginning. Jesus had an appointment with history. God’s Son, whom He sent to seek and save that which was lost, had come to fulfill that very purpose by entering Jerusalem on the exact day appointed by His Father.

     Jesus had been teaching, healing the sick and preparing His disciples to go to Jerusalem. Jesus told His disciples many times that He must go to Jerusalem where He would suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, that He would be crucified, and that He would be raised up on the third day. Jesus had an appointment with history. But this was not what they wanted to hear; this was not what they expected to hear.

     Peter even got into trouble with the Lord over this. Peter had different ideas, He wanted Jesus to confront the Roman legions and usher in a glorious new kingdom that would bring peace to the world. When he heard Jesus say that He would suffer and be crucified, Peter thought he should rebuke the Lord saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But Peter was the one rebuked, “Get behind Me, Satan!” Jesus said, “You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

     In other words, God had set His course. Jesus’s entry into the city of Jerusalem that day and the events that followed during that week were ordained and established by God before the foundation of the world. He came to set captives free from the bondage and condemnation of sin. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him would have eternal life!

     From the earliest chapters of Genesis, God was pointing to Jesus who would shed His blood on the cross of Calvary as a covering for our sins as well.

     Throughout the entire Old Testament, God was pointing toward this very day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that triumphant entry. Over and over, chapter by chapter, prophecy by prophecy, it’s all there to read and understand.

Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year the Lord…

Isaiah 53:5, He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by his scourging we are healed…

      But the Jews missed it; they didn’t recognize the signs of the times that were right before their eyes. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

Illus – When Matthew and I were in Israel we had the privilege of having sabbath dinner at the home of a Jewish rabbi and his family. We had an opportunity to talk about why he rejected Jesus as the Messiah…

      God had sent His Son, but they would not receive their king. Their king lived among them; the blind received sight, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk. He even raised Lazarus from the dead! These were the signs of the times, and they missed it. Their eyes were blind, and their hearts were hard.

     But don’t you miss it! Each one must decide for himself.  Let earth receive her King! Behold, the King of Glory! The Jews are still waiting for their Messiah, but there can be no one else who fulfills the scriptures. Daniel the prophet gave the exact number of years from “the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince.” No one can fulfill that prophecy except the one who already fulfilled it.

     The purposes of God will be accomplished; as promised, Jesus entered Jerusalem on the exact day appointed by God. Nothing can stop Him; nothing can hinder Him. Today, the Eastern Gate into Jerusalem, also called the Mercy Gate, has been sealed by ancient Muslim leaders hoping to stop the Messiah from fulfilling the prophecy of His return. They even placed a Muslim grave in front of the Eastern Gate, believing that a holy man would not come through the place of the dead.

     But nothing can stop Him, and nothing can hinder Him. Jesus had an appointment with history, and everyone will have an appointment with Him. Everyone will have a ‘come to Jesus meeting,’ the question is when. “Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father!”

            The world needs hope now. It’s times like these that make you think about what really matters in life. It makes you step back and look at your priorities. It makes you consider the condition of your soul.

            There is an aspect of human nature that is searching, looking and longing; there must be more. And there is. We are not just flesh and blood, we have a soul, and that soul within us longs for hope.

            God sent His Son; He is God’s answer to the soul that’s empty, to the soul that’s thirsty for meaning and purpose and hope that is eternal. God sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost.

            Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In another place, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” 

            Jesus is seeking, He stands at the door of your heart and knocks, but how does He save? It has everything to do with what happened when Jesus was on the cross. This is the day Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, He took on Himself the wages of our sin that we deserved to pay. That’s how He saves.

           Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor over Israel, wanted to free Jesus, but he had little choice but to give the Jewish leaders what they wanted, that Jesus be crucified. Taking a basin and 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 great mockery was added to the cruelty which Jesus suffered.

            This was the cup of the wrath of God. This was the cup that each of us deserved to drink because of our sins, but Jesus took it in our place. This is the very heart of the gospel; the good news that Jesus died and suffered in our place.

            When Jesus was crucified and hanging on the cross, He spoke seven times and each of the words He spoke show God’s heart. It’s personal, these words show God’s heart for us was love.

            In fact, I suggest that because of the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross and the words He declared during his crucifixion, it has the power to transform our final words as well.

Illus – Here are some famous last words: Elizabeth I, Queen of England, “I would give 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, and poet, “Lord, help my poor soul.”

            But there are other last words 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.”

            When my own father died, faith made all the difference. He had wasted most of his life and separated himself from those who loved him. But he finally opened his eyes, and he came to faith in Christ at 75 years old. And when he died at 79 years old, what a difference faith made. His restored 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.”

            In other words, the death of Jesus on the cross will change your death as well. He defeated death that you could have eternal life.      

I. His Death is the Way to 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 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 became leaders in the church that God began to build in north Africa.
  • 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 you immediately 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 the way 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 allow a root of bitterness to come 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 freeing.

Illus – Don’t hold on to offense and become bitter, they may not even realize how much 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.

  • In other words, don’t nail people to their offense, or don’t nail their offense to them; lay it down at the foot of the cross.

B. “You will be with me in paradise”

  • Matthew wrote that Jesus was crucified with two criminals, 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 Oregon State, I joined a fraternity because it felt like family. That need can get people 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 Love He Gives us His Death

  • At first, those words may be difficult to understand. Why would God want to give the death of Jesus?
  • Several scriptures give us the insight we need. 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 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.”

  • 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 have immediately 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 felt so terribly thirsty. 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. 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 19:16-30    NASB 

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.”

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” 25 Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.


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