Summary: The Seven Words of Jesus from the Cross are a wonderful commentary in his own words of Forgiveness, Salvation, Love, Atonement, Suffering, Victory and Security.
Only the night before, Jesus had told his disciples that in his hour of trial they would all desert him but he said, "Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me" (John 16:33). But now at the climax of his passion, at the moment of making atonement for our sin it was necessary that even his Father should stand aside. Just as a scapegoat of the Old Testament had to be banished into the wilderness, so Jesus had to bear the sin of the world alone - literally. God forsaken. He who was made sin for us was feeling the punishment of the sinner, being separated from God. His humiliation was complete. It has been said that "Christ’s self-emptying was not a single act or bereavement, but a growing poorer and poorer, until at last nothing was left to Him but a piece of ground where He could weep and a Cross where He could die." (Abraham Kuyper)
How Jesus felt as his loud cry broke the dreadful silence of that moment of destiny we cannot know. Never before had he stood alone, forsaken by God his Father. Yet, although he was forsaken he never ceased to be his Father’s well-beloved Son, for he was carrying out his Father’s will and purpose in becoming our atonement for sin. This Word from the Cross points us to the cost of the atonement made. Thank God, there’s atonement for sin at the Cross by the Lord Jesus. It’s something we must never lose sight of.
THE FIFTH WORD
"I thirst" (John 19:28).
The hours of torture on the Cross took a tremendous toll on the body of Jesus. Execution by crucifixion was not a sudden death like being shot by a firing squad. It was a long drawn out, lingering death carried out under the Eastern sun. His wounded hands and feet would be quickly inflamed, resulting in a fever of thirst and His body would soon be dehydrated. The prophetic 22nd Psalm which anticipated our Lord’s passion speaks graphically of his condition, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth" (14,15). Yes, our Saviour’s sufferings were real. Although Jesus was divine he was also uniquely man and felt all the emotions and pain as we feel them.
Jesus had earlier refused to drink a drugged wine designed to alleviate to some extent the intensity of the coming suffering, but now his mission almost complete his cry of thirst could be met from a sponge dipped in wine vinegar. In fact it was necessary that his lips should be moistened because he had yet two momentous Words to utter which the world must hear clearly. The second reason was that there was a Scripture still to be fulfilled. Psalm 69:21 had predicted that the Suffering Servant of Israel would say "They ... gave me vinegar for my thirst." Jesus knew that for him to do his Father’s will required him to fulfil all that had been prophesied of the Messiah down the ages. This Fifth Word from the Cross serves to tell us that there is suffering in the Cross.
THE SIXTH WORD
"It is finished" (John 19:30).
This Sixth Word from the Cross consists of one single word in the Greek - "Finished, accomplished." It was a loud cry that rang out over the ghastly scene. What did Jesus mean? What was finished? Was he referring to his sufferings or his life’s work? Certainly it was those things, but even more. It was the end of an era. The Old Testament contains a long list of prophetic utterances, beginning with the first family of mankind, when God told the serpent in the Garden of Eden that he would "put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel" (Gen 3:15). It was this great conquest that was being enacted. Jesus’ cry was proclaiming his victory over the evil one. In the gigantic struggle between good and evil the Son of Man had suffered grievously but he had finished the work of redemption that his Father had committed to him. He didn’t say "I am finished" but rather "It is finished." It was a shout of victory over sin, death and hell.