Thursday, April 9, 2009

EASTER MESSAGE

THE SEVEN SAYINGS OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS

INTRODUCTION

The climax of Jesus Christ’s ministry was the cross in Calvary/Golgotha. The cross presented him with both a challenge and an opportunity to give a last testament to those who adored Him as the Messiah and those who saw in Him a dangerous man. Instead of dying like a criminal, the cross raised Him up above all living beings. Instead of the cross scandalizing Him, Jesus became the glorified Saviour. As Jesus Christ was raised on the cross, He defined the whole history of humanity by what he said and deed, as well as through the events that manifested themselves in this defining moment. In this amazing climax, Jesus uttered seven wonderful sayings which have enhanced the faith of many.

The number seven has a special meaning in the Bible. In seven days God finished the beautiful art of creation (Genesis 2:1), after seven times of marching around the walls of Jericho the strongholds of the city fell (Joshua 6:15-21), there are seven stars in Christ’s right hand (Revelation 1:16), etc. The number seven in appears 52 times in the book of Revelation. Theologians have observed that the use of seven in the Bible is symbolical. Seven symbolically stands for completeness. Herein rests the mystery of the Seven Sayings of Christ! These Seven Sayings are to be understood to imply the completeness of Salvation/ Redemptive history.

It is from this context that Seven Sayings that Jesus Christ uttered on the cross deserve a special study and application, into real life, by every serious Christian. I have, in my own limitations, prayerfully analyzed these seven sayings and commend them to you for spiritual nourishment especially as you reflect over what Christ Has done for you. Through these sayings, you will realize the meaning and depth of the love of Jesus the Christ. I pray that these words will be a campus of faith and a pilgrim’s stuff to your spiritual journey. Read them to be enlightened and trust God to guide you.

THE FIRST SAYING

Luke 23:34. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

§ These words were definitely directed to both Jews and Romans who were responsible for this hour.

§ Jesus observed that those who thought they were eliminating Him were actually ignorant and helpless sinners who needed to be helped out of their ignorance.

§ What is clear is the fact that ignorance which masquerades as knowledge is extremely dangerous as it leads to undesired pain and death.

§ But what was the nature of this ignorance? The Jews suffered from judicial ignorance while the Romans suffered from circumstantial ignorance.

§ God sees those who mock Him with eyes of mercy and not vengeance sees their emptiness and reaches to them with love.

§ Such is the nature of Christian forgiveness. Christian forgiveness is the creative love of God. It sees the, would be enemy, as the lost child of God who needs help.

§ What are the lessons for us? Christians need not to seek revenge but to heal, to reconcile, and mend the broken relationship. The wrongs we see in others must be confronted with love and not hatred.

§ When you are angry with those who fail you, let us hear Christ saying: forgive one another as God has forgiven you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32)

§ Remember that you are the person through whom Christ wants to be known in the World – surely you can not live in perpetual anger and sadness.

THE SECOND SAYING

Luke 23:43 “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”

§ Here is a helpless person just some couple of minutes away from death realizing the nature of man that Christ Jesus is.

§ This man could have scoffed at Jesus just like the other robber did, but his was the greatest realization. In the context of death he met a Saviour and he could not help it but shout his faith out: ‘Remember me….’

§ Indeed the robber had heard Jesus’ first saying to those who mocked Him. He saw in Jesus a real man. In Jesus, he did not see a sinner like him but a Saviour hence the proclamation: ‘Remember me’.

§ The robber asked for a small token ‘Remember me’ but Jesus gave him a unique gift, a gate pass to the Kingdom of God.

§ Jesus does not delay salvation to those who ask for His mercies. God’s judgment and justice is never delayed.

§ When Jesus says today He actually expresses the divine summons of the grace of God. This is Kairos moment, an opportune time that can not be missed. You may look at yourself at think that nothing good can come your way, BUT Jesus is interested in you as you are – only if you can turn to Him in faith.

§ Paradise is a promise of eternal satisfaction, it is a moment of divine companionship with the creator, an experience of eternal peace with self and God.

§ What lesson can we learn from this confession and promise? It is never too late to turn to Christ and trust Him. No one is too old or too young for salvation. No one is too dirty or too special to know God.

§ Dear friend; while there is still life in your body, there is hope! If friends have failed you, you still have one more friend to turn to – Jesus the Christ is His Name.

THE THIRD SAYING

John 19:26-27 “Dear mother, here is your son, … here is your mother”

§ This saying is an expression of divine love at work. Such is the love of God for a helpless sinner.

§ As Jesus stood by the cross, He was not alone despite the fact that his male friends had all run away. There were four women of great faith around Him. These were: a) Mary, her mother.

b) Salome, the mother of John and James the sons of Zebedee.

c) Mary Magdalene

d) Mary, the wife of Cleopas.

§ These four, were great women of faith whose companionship with Jesus is given ample space in the scriptures – true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their love for Jesus was genuine love, not the coward male friends who disappeared as soon as Jesus submitted Himself to His enemies.

§ At the climax of pain, Jesus did not die in self pity. He prayed to see those who loved Him taking care of each other: “your mother, … your son.” Such is the amazing nature of God.

§ Calvary and its calamity did not break Jesus’ bond and fellowship with those that He had shared special moments with. He remembered his homely duties and asked that his disciples learn to live together in true love.

§ What are the lesson for the believers? As you face the challenges of life today, Jesus Christ still cares about you. He wants you to belong to His family, the Church. You need to be in the Church if you want to be at home with Jesus.

THE FOURTH SAYING

Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

§ This is a meditation prayer of Jesus at the climax of His life and ministry. The prayer is based on the Jewish prayer of confidence in God (Psalm 22). The prayer is rhetoric in nature and spiritually laden with hope and faith in God.

§ For Jesus, God’s name was the only closest thing He could think of when all His friends and family finally stood a distance. His disciples had ‘taken cover’. He felt lonely and deserted. But all round Him was the presence of God.

§ In this prayer Jesus expressed His humanity, fully. As he suffered pain, He reminded us that in moments like these we need to trust in God.

§ “My God, My God …” are words of total dependence in God. The phrase expresses a unique relationship between man and God. They are not an empty plea but a faith testament of hope.

§ What lesson do we get here? As you struggle with your existential problems, remember that there is a God who sees and cares! Trust God for a way out and God will not disappoint you.

THE FIFTH SAYING

John 19:28 “I am thirst”.

§ This is one of the most interesting Sayings of Jesus on the cross. The focus is on His needs in the midst of despair. Jesus had addressed all the needs of His disciples and family, he now could attend to His own needs.

§ But what did Jesus really mean in this proclamation? Was it an ordinary thirst or there was something deeper? The scripture follows closely the text found in Psalm 69:21.

§ Whatever the meaning, I thirst is a moving cry coming from one who claimed to provide living water that all who drink of it will never thirst again (John 4:14 & 6:35)

§ Let us remember that in His earthly life we refused Him water (John 4:7-10). Jesus had to go through the dry land in order to prove to us that God really cares. In the hour of need, Jesus was thirst for a new life, a new beginning, a better future, eternity with God.

§ What is the lesson for us? When we hunger after evil things let us be reminded that these are but worthless things that separate us from friends and family. We need to thirst for better things in life; things that unite us and make us a better people, things that freshen our zeal for God and not destruction.

THE SIXTH SAYING

John 19:30 “It is finished!”

§ This is the most exiting proclamation of Jesus on the cross. Go back to the first Saying, behold the order of events and the flow of issues as you move to this saying. The whole history of salvation is wound up! Jesus then declares, ‘tetelestai’ / “It is finished”.

§ You must have in mind the fact that Jesus committed Himself to save humanity, He committed Himself to take up the cross and did not regret the journey to Calvary but walked it all the way to the end – then He declares “It is finished”.

§ Jesus did not die in despair He gave up His life in Victory. He looked at His Ministry and proudly declared; it is done, “It is finished”. “I have achieved my task”

§ On the cross, Christ seemed to be broken and yet He won the biggest victories of all and for all. Finished was the work of salvation.

§ What is our lesson? If Christ died in victory then what? You should not die in bondage and despair you should live a better life in this world which Christ conquered. The doubt, anger and alienation in you heart must cease BUT only if you lay your burden to Him who is Lord over all things.

THE SEVENTH SAYING

Luke 23:46 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”

§ This is a testament of hope in a world of despair and hopelessness. Jesus was not just dying He submitted Himself to God’s divine care. “Into your hands…” is a commitment utterance, a faith declaration.

§ In God He existed and from God He came, and now to God He returns at the close of His Ministry. “Into your hands…” is a faithful discharge of authority to the Master. Jesus had finished his task on earth and had no business remaining here.

§ After having been down the valleys and up the mountains, Jesus had to call it a day. He had taught humankind the nature of God and the will of God and now He had to see people grow themselves up in faith.

§ “…I commit my spirit” are words full of confidence. This was Jesus’ final prayer. A prayer of total dependence in God. As He uttered this prayer it would seem , to me, that the whole history of salvation was sealed.

§ What is our lesson? In moments of desperation you can trust God and commit your ways to the one and only living God our Saviour.

1 comment:

DieHard said...

What a powerful condensation of the Easter message in seven bullet points. That is clarity Bishop Kadenge, thank you.