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Good Friday Readings

 
 

Seven Sayings

A Meditation on Christ’s Words from the Cross

From the sermons of Charles H. Spurgeon


And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Luke 23:34

So you notice when it was that Jesus pleaded? It was, while they were crucifying him. They had not just driven in the nails, they had lifted up the cross, and dished it down into its socket, and dislocated all his bones, so that he could say, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint." Ah, dear friends, it was then that instead of a cry or groan, this dear Son of God said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." They did not ask for forgiveness for themselves, Jesus asked forgiveness for them. Their hands were imbrued in his blood; and it was then, even then, that he prayed for them. Let us think of the great love wherewith he loved us, even while we were yet sinners, when we rioted in sin, when we drank it down as the ox drinks down water. Even then he prayed for us. "While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Bless his name tonight. He prayed for you when you did not pray for yourself. He prayed for you when you were crucifying him.

Then think of his plea, he pleads his Sonship. He says, "Father, forgive them." He was the Son of God, and he put his divine Sonship into the scale on our behalf. He seems to say, "Father, as I am thy Son, grant me this request, and pardon these rebels. Father, forgive them." The filial rights of Christ were very great. He was the Son of the Highest. "Light of light, very God of very God", the second Person in the Divine Trinity; and he puts that Sonship here before God and says, "Father, Father, forgive them." Oh, the power of that word from the Son's lip when he is wounded, when he is in agony, when he is dying! He says, "Father, Father, grant my one request; O Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do;" and the great Father bows his awful head, in token that the petition is granted.

From “Christ’s Plea For Ignorant Sinners”,  Sermon #2263


And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43

A convicted felon was the person with whom our Lord last consorted upon earth. What a lover of the souls of guilty men is he! What a stoop he makes to the very lowest of mankind! To this most unworthy of men the Lord of glory, ere he quitted life, spoke with matchless grace. He spoke to him such wondrous words as never can be excelled if you search the Scriptures through: "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." I do not suppose that anywhere in this Tabernacle there will be found a man who has been convicted before the law, or who is even chargeable with a crime against common honesty; but if there should be such a person among my hearers, I would invite him to find pardon and change of heart through our Lord Jesus Christ. You may come to him, whoever you may be; for this man did. Here is a specimen of one who had gone to the extreme of guilt, and who acknowledged that he had done so; he made no excuse, and sought no cloak for his sin; he was in the hands of justice, confronted with the death-doom, and yet he believed in Jesus, and breathed a humble prayer to him, and he was saved upon the spot. As is the sample, such is the bulk. Jesus saves others of like kind. Let me, therefore, put it very plainly here, that none may mistake me. None of you are excluded from the infinite mercy of Christ, however great your iniquity: if you believe in Jesus, he will save you.

From Sermon #2078 , “The Believing Thief”


When Jesus 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!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26-27

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother” Here was another pang for Him—He could not be spared anywhere. He must recollect in His death everything that would cause Him grief—“When Jesus therefore saw His mother”

And the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He said unto His mother. Woman, behold your son! Then said He to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

There was no specific direction given to John to entertain Mary. It was quite enough for the Lord to call his attention to her by saying “Behold your mother.” How I wish we were always in such a state of heart that we did not need specific precepts, but a hint would suffice. Dear Friends, do not need pressing or driving to holy duty! Be not as bulls that must be goaded, but rather have within you such a spring of love that it shall be a delight to do anything that may give joy to the heart of the Well-Beloved! When you see Him on the Cross, is there anything you can deny Him? Will you not think spontaneously of what you can do to please Him?

 

From Sermon #3311, “The Water and the Blood”

 


And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mark 15:34

THERE WAS DARKNESS over all the land unto the ninth hour": this cry came out of that darkness.  I do not think that the records of time or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone. Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable. This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

[And] let us abhor the sin which brought such agony upon our beloved Lord. What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to God's house, on the Lord's-day morning, and think to worship him? Worship him! Worship him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! O sirs, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? -if I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother's heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it?

O my hearers, if you did but know yourselves, and know the love of Christ, you would each one vow that you would harbour sin no longer. You would be indignant at sin, and cry,

"The dearest idol I have known,

Whate'er that idol be,

Lord, I will tear it from its throne,

And worship only thee"

From Sermon #2133, “Lama Sabachthani?”


After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

John 19:28

Our Lord is the Maker of the ocean and the waters that are above the firmament: it is his hand that stays or opens the bottles of heaven, and sends rain upon the evil and upon the good. "The sea is his, and he made it," and all fountains and springs are of his digging. He pours out the streams that run among the hills, the torrents which rush down the mountains, and the flowing rivers which enrich the plains.

And yet, though he was Lord of all, he had so fully taken upon himself the form of a servant and was so perfectly made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that he cried with fainting voice, "I thirst." How truly man he is; he is, indeed, "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh," for he bears our infirmities. I invite you to meditate upon the true humanity of our Lord very reverently, and very lovingly.

Thirst is a common-place misery, such as may happen to peasants or beggars; it is a real pain, and not a thing of fancy or a nightmare of dreamland. Thirst is no royal grief, but an evil of universal manhood; Jesus is brother to the poorest and most humble of our race. Our Lord, however, endured thirst to an extreme degree, for it was the thirst of death which was upon him, and more, it was the thirst of one whose death was not a common one, for "he tasted death for every man."

The nails were fastened in the most sensitive parts of the body, and the wounds were widened as the weight of his body dragged the nails through his blessed flesh, and tore his tender nerves. The extreme tension produced a burning feverishness. It was pain that dried his mouth and made it like an oven, till he declared, in the language of the twenty-second psalm, "My tongue cleaves to my jaws." It was a thirst such as none of us have ever known.

Jesus, being a man, escaped none of the ills which are allotted to man in death. He is indeed "Immanuel, God with us" everywhere.

From Sermon #1409, “The Shortest of the Seven Cries”


When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

In the original Greek of John’s Gospel, there is only one word for this utterance of our Lord. To translate it into English, we have to use three words, but when it was spoken, it was only one—an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop, for that is all that we can call one word. “It is finished.” Yet it would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. “Finished.” I can half imagine the tone in which our Lord uttered this word, with a holy glorying, a sense of relief, the bursting out of a heart that had long been shut up within walls of anguish.  “Finished.” It was a Conqueror’s cry; it was uttered with a loud voice. There is nothing of anguish about it; there is no wailing in it. It is the cry of One who has completed a tremendous labor, and is about to die, and before He utters His death-prayer, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit,” He shouts His life’s last hymn in that one word, “Finished.”

None of the words of our Lord on the cross are addressed to His Church but this one. I cannot believe that, when He was dying, He left His people, for whom He died, without a word. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” is for sinners, not for saints. “I thirst,” is for Himself, and so is that bitter cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” “Woman, behold your son!” is for Mary. “Today shall you be with Me in paradise,” is for the penitent thief. “Into Your hands I commend My spirit,” is for the Father. Jesus must have had something to say, in the hour of death, for His Church; and, surely, this is His dying word for her. He tells her, shouting it in her ear that has become dull and heavy with despair, “It is finished.” “It is finished, O My redeemed one, My bride, My well-beloved, for whom I came to lay down My life; it is finished, the work is done!”

From Sermon #2344, “Christ’s Dying Word For His Church.”

 

 


Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46

The psalm from which He quoted did not say, “Father.” David did not get as far as that in words, though in spirit he often did. But Jesus had the right to alter the psalmist’s words. He can improve on Scripture, though you and I cannot. He did not say, “O God, into Your hands I commend My spirit.” He said, “Father.” Oh, that sweet word! That was the gem of [the first recorded words of our Lord, when he] said, “Did you not know that I must be at My Father’s—that I must be in My Father’s house!” Oh, yes, the Holy Child knew that He was especially and, in a peculiar sense, the Son of the Highest, and therefore He said, “My Father.” And, in dying, His expiring heart was buoyed up and comforted with the thought that God was His Father. It was because He said that God was His Father that they put Him to death, yet He still stood to it even in His dying hour, and said, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit”!

What a blessed thing it is for us, also, my brothers and sisters, to die conscious that we are children of God! Oh, how sweet, in life and in death, to feel in our soul the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, “Abba, Father”! In such a case as that— “It is not death to die.”

Joyful, with all the strength we have, our lips may confidently sing, challenging death and the grave to silence our ever-rising and swelling music! O my Father, my Father, if I am in your hands, I may die without fear!

Wherever else we are insecure, if we ask Him to receive our spirit, and He receives it, who can hurt us? Who can pluck us out of His hands? Awaken, Death and hail! Come forth, all you powers of darkness! What can you do when once a spirit is in the hands of the Omnipotent Redeemer? We will be safe there!

Let us put ourselves into His hands now—and then we need not be ashamed to repeat the operation every day, and we may be sure that we shall not be rejected at the last.

From Sermon #2644, “The Last Words of Christ on the Cross”