Custom Search

Home   |   Contact Us   
 
For accessing rich treasures in His Word and for edification
 
 
GOOD FRIDAY MESSAGE
 



THE PEARL NECKLACE



Said a Wise preacher that the seven “utterances” (kindly note, not “words”) of the Saviour on the Cross reminded him of a seven pearl lustrous necklace, woven around the common thread of Christ’s passion! Why not, for therein our Lord who had all along shown, how we ought to live was also a showing a way to die AND HOW!!!

In this essay, I intend to cast light on these “Seven utterances” (mind you 7 in the Biblical parlance denotes a complete number) of Jesus’ on the cross, which were eloquent sermons in themselves.

RECONCILIATION


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

There are three dimensions to the first utterance on the cross, steeped in spiritual import

Practise….

All along Jesus’ had preached a loving disposition towards his enemies (Matt 5:43-45), now could his demeanor be any different on the Cross? So there he was, at a time when any in his place, could have bitterly railed at his transgressors interceding for them. Stephen, the first martyr was also very much walking in his Master’s steps when in his final moments, he besought the forgiveness of his killers (Acts 7:60).

Prophecy…

Jesus’ life had been marked by fulfillment of all prophecies concerning him right from his virgin birth onwards, so even in the cross, the prophecies regarding his final moments were getting fulfilled one after the other. While his murderers were assigning the middle cross to him on the Calvary hill all with the purpose of conveying the message, that he was a bigger criminal than the other two who were crucified along with him, they were merely fulfilling (unconsciously, of course) the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 53:12 which said “he was counted amongst the transgressors”. Right in that same verse was another prophecy “ he made intercession for his transgressors”, now that too was fulfilled, when Jesus’ spoke the very first word exuding loving forgiveness.

Perfection…

Also can we deny the fact that his killers were all figuring in the Divine redemption plan? As such they knew not, what they were doing…if they were actually thinking of extinguishing the Divine lamp, by shedding the Lamb’s blood they were actually oiling it. Oh the great wonder in the Divine scheme of things, where even the intended acts of wickedness, acts of extreme imperfection are used to bring forth perfection of Eternal value.

REASSURANCE FOR REPENTANCE


Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." - Luke 23:39-43

The reassuring second utterance of the good Lord on the cross in response to the dying plea of the repentant thief on the cross, holds out hope to many a sinner on a deathbed that, one can repent even at the fag end of his life and be forgiven. The three crosses on the Calvary hill are symbolic of the eternal salvation and the two different responses to the same. There can be only two of it-YES or NO.

While one thief had nothing to with it (the Divine redemption plan), the other one hung onto it, like a sinking man onto a lifebuoy and guaranteed a place for himself in paradise. In the entire history of sinful mankind (who is not a sinner and in need of forgiveness – Romans 3:23?), we see basically the two categories of people- the unrepentant and the repentant ones. If proud Saul and his contrite successor David, repentant Manasseh and his adamant son Amon are symbolic of the same in OT times (II Chronicles 33:23), then conniving Judas (did not repent after betraying the Lord) and humble Peter (repented after denying his master) and these 2 thieves are a kind of their counterparts in the NT era.

In which category do we belong? When we picturize in our mind the Sinless one dying for sin, we can either die to sin, like the repentant thief did or choose to die in sin like the unrepentant one, sadly did.

One statutory warning: While it’s good to repent even at the fag end of one’s life like the remorseful thief did, let’s never put off our repentance to the eleventh hour, because we do not know when death will knock at our door, what if it does at 10.30? So the convicted ones’, better repent now (II Cor 6:1-2)!

There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing!!!

RESPONSIBILITY


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 19:26-27

If Jesus life was marked by fulfillment of many a prophecy, it was marked by fulfillment of the Law too (in dying as a blemish less lamb for the sins of mankind, he was fulfilling Leviticus 1:3-5, also see Matt 5:17-19). So it follows that even at the point of death, being the eldest son of the family, he would discharge his filial responsibility of providing for his parents in line with the V Commandment “ Honor your parents”.

While Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus seems to have died even before Jesus started his public ministry, Mary was to see and endure what Simeon had prophesied about (Luke 2:34,35). So there she was at the foot of the cross, seeing her innocent Son crucified. Though, Jesus’ younger brothers like James and Jude (Matt 13:55) were destined to become great Church leaders (NT Books numbering 20 and 26 respectively bear their name), they were initially not only unbelievers (John 7:5) but also so calloused as to be away from their own elder brother, when he was dying a torturous death on the Cross. Barring John (the youngest disciple), who would did not care about the dangerous ramifications of identifying himself with his Master, all other disciples’ fearing for their lives were conspicuous by their absence. With none of his brothers’ by his side and no disciples’ too save brave, young John, Jesus’ the eldest son of Mary hands the responsibility of providing for her to his young, trustworthy disciple.

Oh what an example of being alive to filial responsibility even at the time of death!

Doubtless, John along with Salome his mother and Zebedee his father was a great source of comfort and security to Mary, from then on.

RESCUE CRY


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?"- Matt 27:46

Now we come to most agonizing moment of our Lord in the Cross. Even as he uttered the fourth sentence in prophetic fulfillment of Psalm 22:1, we see him writhing in anguish not from the lacerations on His back, or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with the Holy Father that His becoming sin for us had brought (Isa 53:5, I Cor 15:3, II Cor 5:21).

It was as if at that moment frozen in history, his eternal, intimate fellowship with His Father had snapped. Jesus did not die as a martyr to a righteous cause or simply as an innocent man wrongly accused and condemned nor did he die as a heroic gesture against man’s inhumanity to man. The Father could have favorably looked on such selfless deaths’ as those. But because Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, the Holy Heavenly Father had to temporarily “abandon” His Son, turning His back to him. Habakkuk declared of God, “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13). So it was at the cross, His Holy Son when the load of Sin of mankind was laid upon Him, became temporarily unworthy of the sacred Father’s presence, which he had been hitherto enjoying from eternity.

Oh what a sacrifice borne out of infinite love! To come down from glory to suffer such indescribable pain for us. NEVER HAS THE WORLD OWED SO MUCH, TO ONE MAN!

RESPONSE TO PROPHECY


Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. John 19:28,29

I make no apology for stating what I had stated before. If there was one pattern in our Lord’s life, which stood out for its remarkable regularity of occurrence, right from his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14) onwards at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), then it was the fulfillment of many a prophecy regarding His life. Time and again, we see more than 300 the prophecies-one after the other- getting fulfilled in His life, during the First Coming. Why so many prophesies? On his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension depended the SALVATION OF MANKIND ITSELF. Lest, any rationalist attribute the entire sequence of his life events to an accident or coincidence, the Father foretold everything!

Even while He was on the cross, prophecies were getting fulfilled and the fifth utterance on the cross was also in fulfillment of the Scriptures, which read thus

“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”Psalm 69:21.

In response to these words of Jesus, the one who ran to “apparently” help Jesus was probably one of the military guards, and by taking a sponge and filling it with sour wine, he hoped temporarily to slake Jesus’ thirst. Honestly, he did not know that he was playing a part in the fulfillment of the Scriptures or for that matter neither did his counterparts know, who were vying for the garments of Jesus (John 19:23,24) that, they too were doing it in fulfillment of the Scriptures which read thus

“They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”- Psalm 22:18.

Fulfillment of so many Scripture portions regarding the First coming of our Lord, leads us to an important question. Will not the Prophecies regarding His Second Coming (Acts 1:10,11) also be fulfilled? THEY SURE WOULD! AMEN!

REDEMPTION PLAN COMPLETED


When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished."… John 19:30

The sixth sentence the Lord uttered on the cross was “It is finished” which translated in Greek is Tetelestai (mind you not a sentence per se but actually one word). This word uttered in total exhaustion with pitch darkness overshadowing the afternoon sun (If Jesus birth witnessed supernatural events like appearance of a Strange star, angels singing in the sky before the bedazzled shepherds, then at his death could miracles be missing? NO WAY!) spoke as eloquently about his determination as it did about His “MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT”. Tetelestai comes from the verb teleo, which means “to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish.” It’s a crucial word because it signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. It’s the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Mt. Everest; it’s the word you would use when you turn in the final copy of your dissertation; it’s the word you would use when you make the final payment on your new car; it’s the word you use when you cross the finish line of your first marathon. The word means more than just “I survived.” It means “I did exactly what I set out to do.” The Lamb of God set apart to be slain for the sins before the founding of the world (I Peter 1:20) had finally accomplished its task. The price for redemption for man from the chains of sin had been paid. God’s search in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:9), subsequent to Adam’s fall “Adam where are you?”, had finally ended. TETELESTAI! WHAT A GLORIOUS WORD OF TRIUMPH!

RELEASE


Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. … Luke 23:46

If all through his life on earth, our Lord had shown how to live a life trusting God fully much like a little child following its father in tow in complete faith, then in death too, he showed how to die… trusting the Father completely. The Final utterance of His is again fulfillment of the Scripture portion, which read thus

“Into your hands I commit my spirit…” Psalm 31:5

That he spoke loudly is proof of the fact that that there were still reserves of energy in his badly-bruised body and that, he was voluntarily surrendering His Spirit, in line with His Father’s will (John 10:18). In other words, despite his severe bodily condition, Jesus died much sooner than normal. Therefore when Joseph of Arimathea informed Pilate of Jesus’ death and asked for His body, the governor was surprised and asked a centurion to give verification (Mark 15:43-45).

Even in cases of suicide, psychologists would vouch that a dying individual actually fights for life in the final moments, so deeply is ingrained the desire for life in one’s self, but not in the case of our Lord. If not natural but supernatural forces dictated his birth, and then could his death be any different? There was not an iota of desire to hang unto life but only a desire to willingly give it up. Miracle again? YES AND OH, WHAT A WAY TO DIE!

Christ’s atoning death on the cross was not a private occurrence…not by any standard…it was a public event witnessed by many (Acts 26:26). In and through His public crucifixion, in the spiritual realm He was publicly triumphing over Satan at the cross. Consider this Scripture portion too…

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it- Colossians 2:15 (a related essay on the subject can be browsed at the following link
http://www.jandsmministries.com/message_sep1_07.asp)

Ever wondered why Baby Jesus did not die in the hands of murderous, insecure King Herod (Matt 2)? Had he died, even then pure, atoning blood would have been shed for mankind albeit in a remote corner. For that matter, ministering Jesus could have met death pushed from mountain-top (Luke 4:28-30) or stoned in Jerusalem by his opponents (John 8:59-60)? Even then, pure, atoning blood would have been shed for mankind albeit hardly warranting public attention. BUT THE PUBLIC TRIAL BEFORE PONTIUS PILATE AND PUBLIC EXECUTION BY CRUCIFIXTION CONSEQUENTLY AS PER CLEARLY LAID OUT PROPHECIES (PSALM 22/ ISAIAH 53), WOULD LEAVE NONE IN ANY DOUBT ABOUT HIS ATONING DEATH, ON WHICH THE SALVATION OF THE WHOLE MANKIND WAS DEPENDENT?

Time even atheists/agnostics doubted their doubts about the clear Gospel message (I Cor 15:1-3) sounding loud and clear from the Scriptures and took a leap of faith (Romans 10:8-10)? No procrastination please in this crucial matter about your eternal destiny, for the Saviour’s II Coming is imminent.



Yours in His service,


(Suresh Manoharan)