The First Word: A word of forgiveness
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with
the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33,34)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, what words would
come from your mouth toward those who had just left you that way? I’m guessing your
words would not be appropriate for this church setting.
How remarkable when we hear the words of Jesus toward those who had left
him beaten, battered and bloodied! “Father, forgive them...” is what came from those
parched and perfect lips.
These words were for the member of the Sanhedrin who had falsely accused
Jesus and unjustly found him guilty. These words were for the Roman soldier who had
abusively mistreated him and savagely punished him, even though he had committed no
crime. These words were for the seemingly “innocent bystander” who gawked and
gasped at Jesus’ predicament and did nothing to help.
These words are for you and me: your gossip and my greed, your perversity and
my prejudice, your selfishness and my slothfulness. These words are the reason Jesus
was on that cross— beaten, battered and bloodied. He was there to forgive, to rescue
us from the punishment of hell due us because of our sins, to be our Savior.
Listen to those words today! Let them remain in your heart and resound in your
voice! Live them all the rest of your days!
The Second Word: A word of promise
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ?
Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said,
“since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting
what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the
truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, wouldn’t you try to
conserve your energy? The more words you speak, the more exhausted you would
That is not how Jesus would have it as he responded to the believing criminal
being crucified next to him. He didn’t meet his request with silence. He didn’t answer
with a simple, “sure” or “we’ll see”.
JESUS’ SEVEN SAYINGS FROM THE CROSS
Jesus wanted this word to be one of promise and one that would not be
misunderstood. “I tell you the truth”! This is something you can count on! This is for
“Today” is Jesus’ next word. Not “sometime.” Not “eventually.” Not “after
you’ve finished paying for your sins.”
Jesus promises him that same day as his body dies, his soul “will be with me in
paradise.” A promise of certainty! Not “might be” or “could be”, but “will be”! A
promise of companionship! “With Jesus”, with the one who lived for him and now was
dying with, and for, him! A promise of perfection! “In paradise”, in heavenly glory and
This word of promise from Jesus continues in our life as well. Even though we
are as deserving to die the kind of death this crucified criminal did and even though we
are deserving of hell itself, still Jesus says to you and me, “I tell you the truth, today you
will be with me in paradise.” Keep that word of promise always with you as this world
works its wickedness in your life and be certain that you have a place in paradise waiting
for you alongside a crucified criminal and your crucified Christ!
The Third Word: A word of love
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of
Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom
he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to
the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his
home. (John 19:25-27)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If that were your condition, would you be
concerned about your mom or your best friend? You would probably want to first know
what they were going to do to help you.
Jesus, however, in his final hours, was concerned about his mother Mary and his
friend John, both of whom would be lost and distraught without him around. But this
should not surprise us because he had always been concerned about both of them and
would continue to be until they rested safely alongside of him in heaven.
Jesus’ word of love for his mother and his friend teaches us of his love for us.
We are his family, being brought into the family of faith by baptism. Like he did for
Mary and for John in his love for them, so he continues to give us people in our lives
who love us, take care of us and encourage us. Focus on this word of love when you
doubt if anyone really cares for you!
The Fourth Word: A word of anguish
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About
the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (which
means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:45,46)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. Even if we were, we would never, ever know what
Jesus endured on that cross! We call this his word of anguish, but there really is no
word to describe what Jesus is saying and suffering here.
Jesus was forsaken by God— by the one with whom he had existed from
eternity, by the one with whom he was perfectly united, by the one whom he earlier
called his Father— and would again— but now generically names “God”. How could this
The perfect God and sin, which is the destroyer of perfection, can not co-exist.
God had to figure out a way to root out sin in sinful mankind in order that we could live
in God’s perfect heaven with him. So God sent Jesus and “made him who had no sin to
be sin for us” (2 Co 5:21). Jesus was forsaken by God because he had all of our sins on
him on the cross and God had to disown him in order that we might be owned by God.
As horrible as we have been toward God and as hateful as we have been toward
others, God stills extends his grace to us and promises to never, ever forsake us. This is
only because Jesus was forsaken in our place and, because of that, the God-forsaken pit
of hell is not in our future! Be sure that God accepts you and will never leave you
because of Jesus!
The Fifth Word: A word of fulfillment
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be
fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If you were in that situation, you would probably be
Jesus, not only God, but also man, was also thirsty. This is a reminder that Jesus
was experiencing reality on the cross. There was actual pain, actual suffering, actual
But this word was spoken for more than just to see Jesus’ humanity. It was also
spoken, as was written here, that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
In Psalm 22, Jesus prophesied his thirst, as we will speak responsively in just a
moment. He also prophesied in Psalm 69, “They put gall in my food and gave me
vinegar for my thirst” (v. 21).
It seems so inconsequential for this to be recorded— in comparison to
everything else that was happening on the cross that first Good Friday— but it is
another reminder that everything Jesus did and said was important for our salvation and
he did everything we needed. Remember, he did it all for you!
The Sixth Word: A word of completion
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed
his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. Those are typically signs of being a loser, signs that
indicate someone else got the best of you! Unless you are some hero in an action film,
it is not easy, nor is it expected, that you will recover from your beatdown and finish the
In spite of his pain and suffering, Jesus had enough left in the tank to finish off
the devil and cry out just one word— a word of completion— tetelestai, a Greek word
meaning “it is finished”.
Do we need to offer up any more sacrifices for sin? The writer of Hebrews says,
“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many” (9:28). In a word, finished!
Do we have to fear the condemnation of God’s law? The apostle Paul says,
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In a
What about the necessity of measuring up perfectly to God’s standards? The
writer of Hebrews says, “By one sacrifice [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who
are being made holy” (10:14). In a word, finished!
We need to hear this word from the cross and we need to remember this word
every day! When we are tormented by our sins against the holy God, when the devil
comes to us on our deathbed and holds the Ten Commandments before us to fill us with
despair over our sin, we may speak Jesus’ words: “Hey, Satan! It is finished! It is
finished! The blood of Jesus Christ has purified me from every sin” (Cf. 1 John 1:7).
The Seventh Word: A word of confidence
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
Beaten, battered, bloodied. If you were in that condition, death might just be
the next thing on your list.
Having been beaten, battered, bloodied, death would also come to Jesus, but
not before he spoke a word of confidence! This was not a word of despair or defeat or
death. Just as Jesus had assured the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise
immediately after he died, Jesus also expected the same. He knew his body would be
placed into a grave, but he knew his soul would soar immediately into the loving
embrace of his Father and soon his soul would reunite with his body—a perfect,
Notice that he calls God his Father once again! No longer was our sin resting on
his shoulders and cutting him off from the care and concern of his Father. He would be
welcomed home as God’s victorious servant.
As you die, confidently speak these same words. Trust that Jesus rescued you
from your sins and released you from sin’s condemnation and that your loving Father in
heaven will take your spirit to heaven, someday to be reunited with your body, for you
know what Jesus has promised and prepared for you.
There is, in one sense, an eighth word of Good Friday. It’s the word spoken by
the Jewish leaders and Pontius Pilate regarding the tomb of Jesus. To anyone who had
witnessed the events of that day, this word might have appeared to be the last word—
the slamming shut of a tomb, a life, and all hope.
But God gets the last word. He always does. And although we go home tonight
with the slamming ringing in our ears, we know better than to go home without hope.
We go home confident that the tomb will be empty on Easter Sunday for only one
reason: because our Savior gave himself up to death, but also rose up and defeated it!
Hear now the eighth word of Good Friday: (Reading of the burial of Jesus)