Jesus entered the darkness so that we might walk in the light. Jesus was forsaken of God for a time so that we might enjoy His presence forever. It was an uneven exchange, but one that was heavily in our favour. At the darkest hour of our Lord’s life, Jesus reminded us what He had done for us through His death.
His every word was laden with sacrifice and meaning. From this we can learn so much about who Jesus is and what it means to give all that we are in service of others. On this episode of A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie offers insight into how we can all be inspired by these words of our Saviour.
Easter is a celebration of the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This singular event changed everything, it was literally the day that changed the world. But before there was a resurrection, there was a crucifixion. Jesus was arrested on false charges and sent to Pontius Pilate. Wanting to appease the bloodthirsty crowd, Pilate gave the order for Jesus to be scourged.
Jesus Was Innocent
‘Jesus took 39 lashes on his back,’ says Greg. ‘It was described as the halfway crucifixion. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but he was under political pressure, and he wanted to please the religious leaders. So he called for a basin and washed his hands. But you can’t wash your hands of Jesus Christ.’
Pilate’s wife dreamed about Jesus. She said he was a righteous man, and told her husband not to hurt him. But He didn’t listen to her. Pilate sent Jesus to the cross, and as He hung there, He made seven profound statements, and every statement was significant. Even the order was significant.
1. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
2. Very truly I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.
3. Woman, behold your son, and son behold your mother.
4. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
5. I thirst.
6. It is finished.
7. Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.
‘Jesus reminds us that no one is beyond the reach of prayer,’ says Greg. ‘He is literally praying for the soldiers who have nailed Him to the cross. He’s offering forgiveness to His enemies. The thief hanging next to Him was so moved because he had never seen anything like that. It reverberated through his hardened heart, and he believed right there on the spot.’
Then standing at the foot of the cross is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Imagine the anguish she’s feeling at this moment. It was generally the responsibility of the firstborn son and the Jewish family to care for the mother. But now Jesus would not be able to do that, so He gives that responsibility and privilege over to John.
‘Now comes the moment that Jesus has been dreading,’ says Greg. ‘The entire planet is covered in a darkness, pierced only by His voice. Jesus was experiencing the greatest loneliness any man has ever experienced. For a moment, even the Father has to turn His face away as He pours all of His wrath and anger on Jesus Christ, who is dying in our place as a substitute. It’s an incredible moment that took place.’
It Is Finished
His fifth statement from Calvary was the first of a personal nature. He said, I thirst. Jesus was completely dehydrated. He’s reaching out and someone offers Him something to relieve His thirst. But then He says, it is finished.
‘We’re told He cried this out with a loud voice,’ says Greg. ‘This is a man who was in control. Jesus was not a victim. He was a victor. He knew exactly what was happening and why. Then with His final statement, into Your hand I commit My spirit, the sin of the world is atoned for.’
Greg believes there is something powerful we can all learn from these statements. ‘We should call on God in the beginning, the middle and the end of our life,’ he says. ‘We do not have to be perfect for God to use us. All we need to do is call on Him, and He will lead us in His perfect way.’
‘Jesus reminds us to make sure we remember the Lord, no matter what stage of life we are in.’