Summary: Last of a 7 part series that examines the heart of Jesus through his last words from the cross.
For the last six weeks we’ve been on a journey into the heart of Jesus as we have examined His last words from the cross.
Jesus began by focusing on others:
• His cry for pardon – “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” – focused on the people who were putting him to death. And it also served as a reminder for all of us that we need forgiveness, too, and that Jesus provided that forgiveness on the cross.
• His cry of assurance – “I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise” – focused on the thief hanging next to Him on the cross. But it also reminds each of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ of the certainty of our salvation.
• His cry of compassion – “Dear woman, here is your son…Here is your mother” – was a demonstration of His compassion for his mother. But it was also a reminder to us of the benefits and responsibilities that go along with His compassion for each of us.
Then we saw a transition with His cry of anguish – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At that moment, all the sins of mankind were placed upon Jesus and He suffered in deep agony. It is at that moment that the focus turns to the humanity of Jesus as He offers Himself up to God in perfect obedience:
• “I thirst” – body
• “It is finished” – soul
• “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” – spirit
This morning we’ll focus on that last cry of Jesus from the cross. Let’s begin by reading from Luke’s account of the crucifixion:
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
By next Monday, April 17th, most of us here this morning will have had the pleasure of filing our income tax returns for 2005, which reminds us of the old cliché that there are only two things that are certain in life – death and taxes. Will Rogers had kind of an interesting take on that cliché when he said:
The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
And Mark Twain had this to say about taxes:
What’s the difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist? A taxidermist only takes the skin.
In fact, there seems to be some kind of relationship between death and taxes.
I had a vision last night, and in this vision Denny died one day. When he was sent to be judged, he was told that he had committed a sin and so, could not go to Heaven right away. His sin was cheating on his income taxes and the only way he could get into heaven was to be with an ugly woman for the next five years and enjoy it. Denny decided this was a small price to pay for an eternity in Heaven. So, off he went with the ugly woman, pretending to be happy.
As he was walking along, he saw Harold up ahead. Harold was with an even uglier woman than Denny. When he approached Harold, he asked him what was going on. Harold answered, "I cheated on my income taxes and scammed the government out of a lot of money ... even more than you did."
They both shook their heads in understanding and figured that as long as they had to be with these women, they might as well hang out together to help pass the time.
Now Denny, Harold and their two beastly women were walking along, minding their own business, when they could have sworn that they saw their friend Charlie up ahead. Only this man was with an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous supermodel/centerfold. Stunned, Denny and Harold approached the man and in fact it was their friend Charlie. They asked him, why was he with this unbelievable goddess, while they were stuck with these awful women.
Charlie replied, "I have no idea, but I’m definitely not complaining. This has been absolutely the best time of my life. I am looking forward to spending the next five years with this gorgeous woman. There is only one thing that I can’t seem to understand. Every time we’re together, she keeps mumbling something about those darn income taxes.
The fact is that everyone one of us will die one day. And one of the best things about the last cry of Jesus from the cross, this cry of submission, is that it teaches us an important principle about dying: Most of us will die the very same way that we lived. I think that is the essence of this cry from the cross. Let’s see if we can’t look at it in a little more detail and see how that is true.