Last week we looked at the initial phrases that left Jesus’ mouth as He hung on the cross. In just a few simple words, Jesus displayed extreme compassion and love as He asked for forgiveness on behalf of those who were mocking and jeering him. Even for those that had beaten and bruised His body, even those who had nailed him to the cross, received nothing but compassion from the lips of Jesus. While one criminal who hung next to Him joined the fray, the other showed repentance and faith in the person of Christ. Again, Jesus gave us a wonderful glimpse to the path of salvation in His response.
Today, we’ll look at three more statements from the cross. While we saw Jesus’ compassion for the lost last week, we’ll see in our passage for today the love that Jesus has for His family and followers, a heartfelt cry to our heavenly Father, as well as the humanity of the person of Christ.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Jesus and Mary are together again, from the beginning of His ministry in Cana to the end of His public ministry at the foot of the cross. John is the only one to record Mary at the cross. Jesus referred to his mother as “woman” at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11) and in this passage, recalling “woman” as used in Genesis 3:15, the first Messianic prophecy of the Redeemer, as well as the same word used in anticipating the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation 12.
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seen.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.
What sorrow must have filled Mary’s heart, to see her Son mocked, tortured, and crucified. Once again, a sword pierces Mary’s soul: we are reminded of the prediction of Simeon at the Temple:
Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary, “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul – that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There are four at the foot of the cross, Mary, Jesus’ mother, John, the disciple whom He loved, Mary of Cleopas, His mother’s sister, and Mary Magdalene. He addresses this third phrase to Mary and John, the only eye-witness of the Gospel writers.
But again, Jesus rises above the occasion, and His concerns are for the ones that love Him. The good son that He is, Jesus is concerned about taking acre of His mother. Joseph is noticeably absent and likely died before the public ministry of Jesus, or else he would have been the one to take care of Mary following the death of Jesus. And while we know that Jesus had brothers and sisters, Jesus charged His disciple John to care for her.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Elie, lemà sabacthàni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?”
This was the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both Gospels relate that it was about three o’clock, after a period of darkness, that Jesus cries out this fourth word. After it, Mark related with a horrible sense of finality, “But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last.”
It becomes extremely difficult to hear the anguish in Jesus’ voice in contrast to His first three statements. This cry is from the pained heart of the human Jesus who must feel deserted by His Father and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the followers and Apostles who had deserted Him. As if to emphasize His loneliness, Mark even has His loved ones “looking from afar,” not close to Him as in the Gospel of John. Jesus feels separated from His Father. He is now all alone, and He must face death by Himself.
In this statement, Jesus uses the opening line of Psalm 22, and His cry from the cross recalls that of the cry of Israel, and of all innocent persons who suffer. Psalm 22 of David makes a striking prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah at a time when crucifixion had even yet to have been thought of.
For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people look and stare at me.
They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.
There couldn’t be a more dreadful moment in the history of mankind as this. Jesus who came to save us is crucified, and He realized the horror of what is happening and what He is now enduring. He is about to be engulfed in the raging sea of sin. Evil triumphs, as Jesus admits in Luke 22:53. But it is only for a moment. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Savior.
But does this not have to happen? Could there have been another way? It is in the defeat of Jesus’ humanity that the divine plan of God the Father could be completed. It is through the death of Jesus that we are redeemed.
For there is one God
and one mediator between God and humanity,
Christ Jesus, Himself human,
who gave Himself – a ransom for all,
a testimony at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:5-6
He Himself bored our sins
in His body on a tree,
so that, having died to sins,
we might live for righteousness;
you have been healed by His wounds.
1 Peter 2:24
In our final statement for tonight’s study, we see a human expression of Jesus’ physical suffering:
After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now accomplished and that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He said, “I’m thirsty!” A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on hyssop and held it up to His mouth.
The wounds inflicted on Jesus through the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the loss of blood on the three-hour walk through the city of Jerusalem to Calvary, and being nailed to the cross were taking their toll.
The Gospel of John first refers to thirst when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. After asking for “a drink,” he answers the woman, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” This passage implies there is more than just physical thirst.
Jesus also thirsts in a spiritual sense. He thirsts for love. He thirsts for the love of His Father, who has left Him unaided during this dreadful hour when He must fulfill His mission all alone. And He thirsts for the love and salvation of His people. Jesus practiced what He had preached:
This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.