Sermon 2311. Our Lord's Last Cry from the Cross
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 4, 1893.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITATN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 9, 1889.
"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit: and having said this, Hegave up the ghost." Luke 23:46.
THESE were the dying words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." It may be instructiveif I remind you that the Words of Christ upon the Cross were seven. Calling each of His cries, or utterances, by the titleof a Word, we speak of the seven last Words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me rehearse them in your hearing. The first, whenthey nailed Him to the Cross, was, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke has preserved that Word. Later,when one of the two thieves said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom," Jesus said to him, "VerilyI say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." This, also, Luke has carefully preserved. Farther on, our Lord, inHis great agony, saw His mother, with breaking heart, standing by the Cross and looking up to Him with unutterable love andgrief, and He said to her, "Woman, behold. your son!" and to the beloved Apostle, "Behold your mother!" and thus He provideda home for her when He, Himself, should be gone away. This utterance has only been preserved by John.
The fourth and central Word of the seven was, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama, Sabachthani?" which is, being interpreted, "My God, My God,why have You forsaken Me?" This was the culmination of His grief, the central point of all His agony. That most awful wordthat ever fell from the lips of man, expressing the quintessence of exceeding agony, is well put fourth, as though it hadneed of three words before it, and three words after it, as its bodyguard. It tells of a good Man, a son of God, the Son ofGod, forsaken of His God! That central Word of the seven is found in Matthew and in Mark, but not in Luke or John.
But the fifth Word has been preserved by John, that is, "I thirst," the shortest, but not quite the sharpest of all the Master'sWords, though under a bodily aspect, perhaps the sharpest of them all. John has also treasured up another very precious sayingof Jesus Christ on the Cross, that is the wondrous Word, "It is finished." This was the last word but one, "It is finished,"the gathering up of all His lifework, for He had loft nothing undone, no thread was left raveling, the whole fabric of Redemptionhad been woven, like His garment, from the top throughout, and it was finished to perfection! After He had said, "It is finished,"He uttered the last Word of all, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit," which I have taken for a text, tonight, butto which I will not come immediately.
There has been a great deal said about these seven cries from the Cross by many writers and though I have read what many ofthem have written, I cannot add anything to what they have said, since they have delighted to dwell upon these seven lastcries, and here the most ancient writers, of what would be called the Romish school, are not to be excelled, even by Protestants,in their intense devotion to every letter of our Savior's dying Words. And they sometimes strike out new meanings, richerand more rare than any that have occurred to the far cooler minds of modern critics, who are, as a rule, greatly blessed withmoles' eyes, able to see where there is nothing to be seen, but never able to see when there is anything worth seeing! Moderncriticism, like modern theology, if it were put in the Garden of Eden, would not see a flower. It is like the sirocco thatblasts and burns. It is without either dew or unction, in fact, it is the very opposite of these precious things, and provesitself to be unblessed of God and unblessed to men.
Now concerning these seven cries from the Cross, many authors have drawn from them, lessons concerning seven duties. Listen.When our Lord said, "Father, forgive them," in effect, He said to us, "Forgive your enemies." Even when
they despitefully use you and put you to terrible pain, be ready to pardon them! Be like the sandalwood tree which perfumesthe axe that fells it. Be all gentleness, kindness and love-and be this your prayer, "Father, forgive them."
The next duty is taken from the second cry, namely, that of penitence and faith in Christ, for He said to the dying thief,"Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." Have you, like he, confessed your sin? Have you his faith and his prayer-fulness?Then you shall be accepted even as he was! Learn, then, from the second cry, the duty of penitence and faith.
When our Lord, in the third cry, said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" He taught us the duty of filial love. No Christianmust ever be short of love to his mother, his father, or to any of those who are endeared to him by relationships which Godhas appointed for us to observe. Oh, by the dying love of Christ to His mother, let no man here unman himself by forgettinghis mother! She bore you-bear her in her old age and lovingly cherish her even to the last.
Jesus Christ's fourth cry teaches us the duty of clinging to God and trusting in God-"My God, my God." See how, with bothhands, He takes hold of Him-"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He cannot bear to be left of God. All else causesHim but little pain compared with the anguish of being forsaken of His God. So learn to cling to God, to grip Him with a double-handedfaith, and if you do ever think that He has forsaken you, cry after Him, and say, "Show me why You contend with me, for Icannot bear to be without You."
The fifth cry, "I thirst," teaches us to set a high value upon the fulfillment of God's Word. "After this, Jesus knowing thatall things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst." Take good heed, in all your griefand weakness, to still preserve the Word of your God, and to obey the precept. Learn the doctrine and delight in the promise.As your Lord, in His great anguish said, "I thirst," because it was written that so He would speak, have regard unto the Wordof the Lord even in little things!
That sixth cry, "It is finished," teaches us perfect obedience. Go through with your keeping of God's Commandments. Leaveout no Command, keep on obeying till you can say, "It is finished." Work your lifework, obey your Master, suffer or serveaccording to His will, but rest not till you can say with your Lord, "It is finished." "I have finished the work which Yougave Me to do."
And that last Word, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit," teaches us resignation. Yield all things. Yield up evenyour spirit to God at His bidding. Stand still and make a full surrender to the Lord, and let this be your watchword fromthe first even to the last, "Into Your hands, my Father, I commend my spirit." I think that this study of Christ's last Wordsshould interest you, therefore let me linger a little longer upon it. Those seven cries from the Cross also teach us somethingabout the attributes and offices of our Master. They are seven windows of agate and gates of carbuncle through which you maysee Him and approach Him.
First, would you see Him as Intercessor? Then He cries, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Would youlook at Him as King? Then hear His second Word, "Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." Would youmark Him as a tender Guardian? Hear Him say to Mary, "Woman, behold your son!" And to John, "Behold your mother!" Would youpeer into the dark abyss of the agonies of His soul? Hear Him cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Would you understandthe reality and the intensity of His bodily sufferings? Then hear Him say, "I thirst," for there is something exquisite inthe torture of thirst when brought on by the fever of bleeding wounds. Men on the battlefield who have lost much blood, aredevoured with thirst, and tell you that it is the worst pang of all. "I thirst," says Jesus. See the Sufferer in the bodyand understand how He can sympathize with you who suffer, since He suffered so much on the Cross. Would you see Him as theFinisher of your salvation? Then hear His cry, "Con-summatum est"-"It is finished." Oh, glorious note! Here you see the blessedFinisher of your faith! And would you then take one more gaze and understand how voluntary was His suffering? Then hear Himsay, not as one who is robbed of life, but as one who takes His soul and hands it over to the keeping of another, "Father,into Your hands I commend My spirit."
Is there not much to be learned from these cries from the Cross? Surely these seven notes make a wondrous scale of music ifwe do but know how to listen to them! Let me run up the scale, again. Here, first, you have Christ's fellowship with men-"Father,forgive them." He stands side by side with sinners and tries to make an apology for them-"They know not what they do." Hereis, next, His kingly power. He sets open Heaven's gate to the dying thief and bids him enter. "Today shall you be with Mein Paradise." Thirdly, behold His human relationship. How near of kin He is to us! "Woman, behold your son!" Remember howHe says, "Whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in Heaven, the
same is My brother, and sister, and mother." He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He belongs to the Human family.He is more of a Man than any man! As surely as He is very God of very God, He is also very Man of very man, taking into Himselfthe Nature, not of the Jew only, but of the Gentile, too. Belonging to His own nationality, but rising above all, He is theMan of men, the Son of Man.
See, next, His taking our sin. You say, "Which note is that" Well, they are all to that effect, but this one, chiefly, "MyGod, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" It was because He bore our sins in His own body on the tree that He was forsaken ofGod. "He has made Him to be sin for us. who knew no sin," and hence the bitter cry, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?" BeholdHim, in that fifth cry, "I thirst," taking not only our sin, but also our infirmity-and all the suffering of our bodily nature.Then, if you would see His fullness as well as His weakness, if you would see His All-Sufficiency as well as His sorrow, hearHim cry, "It is finished." What a wonderful fullness there is in that note! Redemption is all accomplished! It is all complete!It is all perfect! There is nothing left, not a drop of bitterness in the cup of gall-Jesus has drained it dry! There is nota farthing to be added to the ransom price-Jesus has paid it all! Behold His fullness in the cry, "It is finished." And then,if you would see how He has reconciled us to Himself, behold Him, the Man who was made a curse for us, returning with a blessingto His Father and taking us with Him, as He draws us all up by that last dear word, "Father, into Your hands I commend Myspirit."-
"Now both the Surety and sinner are free." Christ goes back to the Father, for, "It is finished," and you and I come to theFather through His perfect work!
I have only practiced two or three tunes that can be played upon this harp, but it is a wonderful instrument. If it is nota harp of ten strings, it is, at any rate, an instrument of seven strings, and neither time nor eternity shall ever be ableto fetch all the music out of them! Those seven dying words of the ever-living Christ will make melody for us in Glory throughall the ages of eternity.
I shall now ask your attention for a little time to the text itself-"Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit."
Do you see our Lord? He is dying and, as yet, His face is toward man. His last Word to man is the cry, "It is finished." Hear,all you sons of men, He speaks to you, "It is finished." Could you have a choicer Word with which He should say, "Adieu,"to you in the hour of death? He tells you not to fear that His work is imperfect, not to tremble lest it should prove insufficient.He speaks to you and declares with His dying utterance, "It is finished." Now He has done with you and He turns His face theother way. His day's work is done, His more than Herculean toil is accomplished, and the great Champion is going back to HisFather's Throne-and He speaks-but not to you. His last Word is addressed to His Father, "Father, into Your hands I commendMy spirit." These are His first Words in going Home to His Father, as, "It is finished," is His last Word as, for a while,He quits our company. Think of these words and may they be your first words, too, when you return to your Father! May youspeak thus to your Divine Father in the hour of death!
The words were much hackneyed in Romish times, but they are not spoilt even for that. They used to be said in the Latin bydying men, "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum." Every dying man used to try to say those words in Latin and ifhe did not, somebody tried to say them for him. They were made into a kind of spell of witch-craft-and so they lost that sweetnessto our ears in the Latin-but in the English they shall always stand as the very essence of music for a dying saint, "Father,into Your hands I commend my spirit."
It is very noteworthy that the last Words that our Lord used were quoted from the Scriptures. This sentence is taken, as Idaresay most of you know, from the 31st Psalm, and the fifth verse. Let me read it to you. What a proof it is of how fullChrist was of the Bible! He was not one of those who think little of the Word of God. He was saturated with it. He was asfull of Scripture as the fleece of Gideon was full of dew. He could not speak, even in His death, without uttering Scripture.This is how David put it, "Into your hand I commit my spirit: You have redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth." Now, Beloved, theSavior altered this passage, or else it would not quite have suited Him. Do you see, first, He was obliged, in order to fitit to His own case, to add something to it? What did He add to it? Why, that word, "Father"! David said, "Into Your hand Icommit my spirit," but Jesus said, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." Blessed advance! He knew more than Daviddid, for He was more the Son of God than David could be. He was the Son of God in a very high and special sense by eternalfiliation and so He begins the prayer with, "Father."
But then He takes something away from it. It was necessary that He should do so, for David said, "Into Your hand I commitmy spirit: You have redeemed me." Our blessed Master was not redeemed, for He was the Redeemer, and He could
have said, "Into Your hand I commit My spirit, for I have redeemed My people." But that He did not choose to say. He simplytook that part which suited Himself and used it as His own, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." Oh, my Brothersand Sisters, you will not do better, after all, than to quote Scripture, especially in prayer! There are no prayers so goodas those that are full of the Word of God! May all our speech be flavored with texts! I wish that it were more so. They laughedat our Puritan forefathers because the very names of their children were fetched out of passages of Scripture, but I, formy part, had much rather be laughed at for talking much of Scripture than for talking much of trashy novels-novels with which(I am ashamed to say it) many a sermon nowadays is larded, yes, larded with novels that are not fit for decent men to readand which are coated over till one hardly knows whether he is hearing about a historical event, or only a piece of fiction-fromwhich abomination, good Lord, deliver us!
So, then, you see how well the Savior used Scripture, and how, from His first battle with the devil in the wilderness tillHis last struggle with death on the Cross, His weapon was always, "It is written." FATHERHOOD OF GOD
Now, I am coming to the text, itself, and I am going to preach from it for only a very short time. In doing so, firstly, letus learn the doctrine of this last cry from the Cross. Secondly, let us practice the duty. And thirdly, let us enjoy the privilege.
I. First, LET US LEARN THE DOCTRINE of our Lord's last cry from the Cross.
What is the Doctrine of this last Word of our Lord Jesus Christ? God is His Father and God is our Father. He who, Himself,said, "Father," did not say for Himself, "Our Father," for the Father is Christ's Father in a higher sense than He is ours.But yet He is not more truly the Father of Christ than He is our Father if we have believed in Jesus! "You are all the childrenof God by faith in Christ Jesus." Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and to My God, andyour God." Believe the Doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to His people! As I have warned you before, abhor the doctrine ofthe universal fatherhood of God, for it is a lie and a deep deception! It stabs at the heart, first, of the Doctrine of theAdoption which is taught in Scripture, for how can God adopt men if they are already all His children? In the second place,it stabs at the heart of the Doctrine of Regeneration, which is certainly taught in the Word of God. Now it is by regenerationand faith that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are already the children of God? "As many as receivedHim, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood,nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." How can God give to men the power to become His sons ifthey have it already? Believe not that lie of the devil, but believe this Truth of God, that Christ and all who are, by livingfaith in Christ, may rejoice in the Fatherhood of God!
Next learn this Doctrine, that in this fact lies our chief comfort. In our hour of trouble, in our time of warfare, let ussay, "Father." You notice that the first cry from the Cross is like the last-the highest note is like the lowest. Jesus beginswith, "Father, forgive them," and He finishes with, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." To help you in a sternduty like forgiveness, cry, "Father." To help you in sore suffering and death, cry, "Father." Your main strength lies in yourtruly being a child of God!
Learn the next Doctrine, that dying is going Home to our Father. I said to an old friend, not long ago, "Old Mr. So-and-sohas gone Home." I meant that He was dead. He said, "Yes, where else would he go?" I thought that was a wise question. Whereelse would we go? When we grow gray, and our day's work is done, where should we go but home? So, when Christ has said, "Itis finished," His next Word, of course, is, "Father." He has finished His earthly course and now He will go Home to Heaven.Just as a child runs to its mother's bosom when it is tired and wants to fall asleep, so Christ says, "Father," before Hefalls asleep in death.
Learn another Doctrine, that if God is our Father, and we regard ourselves as going Home when we die, because we go to Him,then He will receive us. There is no hint that we can commit our spirit to God and yet that God will not have us. Rememberhow Stephen, beneath a shower of stones, cried, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"? Let us, however we may die, make this ourlast emotion if not our last expression, "Father, receive my spirit." Shall not our heavenly Father receive His children?If you, being evil, receive your children at nightfall, when they come home to sleep, shall not your Father, who is in Heaven,receive you when your day's work is done? That is the doctrine we are to learn from this last cry from the Cross-the Fatherhoodof God and all that comes of it to Believers.
II. Secondly, LET US PRACTICE THE DUTY.
That duty seems to me to be, first, resignation. Whenever anything distresses and alarms you, resign yourself to God. Say,"Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit." Sing, with Faber-
"I bow me to Your will, O God, And all Your ways adore. And every day I live I'll seek To please You more and more."
Learn, next, the duty of prayer. When you are in the very anguish of pain. When you are surrounded by bitter griefs of mindas well as of body, still pray. Drop not the, "Our Father." Let not your cries be addressed to the air. Let not your moansbe to your physician, or your nurse, but cry, "Father." Does not a child so cry when it has lost its way? If it is in thedark at night, and it starts up in a lone room, does it not cry out, "Father!" And is not a father's heart touched by thatcry? Is there anybody here who has never cried to God? Is there one here who has never said, "Father"? Then, my Father, putYour love into their hearts and make them say, tonight, "I will arise and go to my Father." You shall truly be known to bethe sons of God if that cry is in your heart and on your lips.
The next duty is the committal of ourselves to God by faith. Give yourselves up to God. Trust yourselves with God. Every morning,when you get up, take yourself and put yourself into God's custody-lock yourself up, as it were, in the box of Divine Protection-andevery night, when you have unlocked the box, before you fall asleep, lock it again and give the key into the hand of Him whois able to keep you when the image of death is on your face. Before you sleep, commit yourself to God. I mean, do that whenthere is nothing to frighten you, when everything is going smoothly, when the wind blows softly from the south and the boatis speeding towards its desired haven-still make not yourself quiet with your own quieting! He who carves for himself willcut his fingers and get an empty plate. He who leaves God to carve for him shall often have fat things full of marrow placedbefore him. If you can trust, God will reward your trusting in a way that you know not as yet.
And then practice one other duty, that of the personal and continual realization of God's Presence. "Father, into Your handsI commend My spirit." "You are here; I know that You are. I realize that You are here in the time of sorrow, and of danger;and I put myself into Your hands. Just as I would give myself to the protection of a policeman, or a soldier, if anyone attackedme, so do I commit myself to You, You unseen Guardian of the night, You unwearied Keeper of the day! You shall cover my headin the day of battle. Beneath Your wings will I trust, as a chick hides beneath the hen."
See, then, your duty. It is to resign yourself to God, pray to God, commit yourself to God and rest in a sense of the Presenceof God. May the Spirit of God help you in the practice of such priceless duties as these!
III. Now, lastly, LET US ENJOY THE PRIVILEGE.
First, let us enjoy the high privilege of resting in God in all times of danger and pain. The doctor has just told you thatyou will have to undergo an operation. Say, "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit." There is every probability thatthat weakness of yours, or that disease of yours, will increase upon you and that, by-and-by, you will have to take to yourbed and lie there, perhaps, for many a day. Then say, "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit." Do not fret, for thatwill not help you. Do not fear the future, for that will not aid you. Give yourself up (it is your privilege to do so) tothe keeping of those dear hands that were pierced for you, to the love of that dear heart which was set abroach with the spearto purchase your redemption!
It is wonderful what rest of spirit God can give to a man or a woman in the very worst condition. Oh, how some of the martyrshave sung at the stake! How they have rejoiced when on the rack! Bonner's coal-hole, across the water there, at Fulham, wherehe shut up the martyrs, was a wretched place to lie on a cold winter's night, but they said, "They did rouse them in the straw,as they lay in the coal-hole, with the sweetest singing out of Heaven! And when Donner said, 'Fie on them that they shouldmake such a noise!' they told him that he, too, would make such a noise if he was as happy as they were." When you have commendedyour spirit to God, then you have sweet rest in time of danger and pain!
The next privilege is that of a brave confidence, in the time of death, or in the fear of death. I was led to think over thistext by using it a great many times last Thursday night. Perhaps none of you will ever forget last Thursday night. I do notthink that I ever shall, if I live to be as old as Methuselah. From this place till I reached my home, it seemed one continuedsheet of fire-and the further I went, the more vivid became the lightning flashes. But when I came, at last, to turn up LeighamCourt Road, then the lightning seemed to come in very bars from the sky and, at last, as I reached the top of the hill, anda crash came of the most startling kind, down poured a torrent of hail-hailstones that I will not
attempt to describe, for you might think that I exaggerated! And then I felt, and my friend with me, that we could hardlyexpect to reach home alive. We were there at the very center and summit of the storm. All around us, on every side, and allwithin us, as it were, seemed nothing but the electric fluid-and God's right arm seemed bared for war. I felt then, "Well,now, I am very likely going Home," and I commended my spirit to God. And from that moment, though I cannot say that I tookmuch pleasure in the peals of thunder, and the flashes of lightning, yet I felt quite as calm as I do here at this presentmoment-perhaps a little more calm than I do in the presence of so many people-happy at the thought that, within a single moment,I might understand more than all I could ever learn on earth and see in an instant more than I could hope to see if I livedhere for a century! I could only say to my friend, "Let us commit ourselves to God. We know that we are doing our duty ingoing on as we are going, and all is well with us."
So we could only rejoice together in the prospect of being soon with God. We were not taken Home in the chariot of fire-weare still spared a little longer to go on with life's work-but I realize the sweetness of being able to have done with itall, to have no wish, no will, no word, scarcely a prayer, but just to take one's heart up and hand it over to the great Keeper,saying, "Father, take care of me. So let me live, so let me die. I have, henceforth, no desire about anything! Let it be asYou please. Into Your hands I commend my spirit."
This privilege is not only that of having rest in danger, and confidence in the prospect of death-it is also full of consummatejoy. Beloved, if we know how to commit ourselves into the hands of God, what a place it is for us to be in! What a place tobe in-in the hands of God! There are the myriads of stars. There is the universe, itself! God's hand upholds its everlastingpillars and they do not fall. If we got into the hands of God, we get where all things rest and we get home and happiness!We have got out of the nothingness of the creature into the All-Sufficiency of the Creator. Oh, get you there! Hasten to getthere, beloved Friends, and live, henceforth, in the hands of God!
"It is finished." You have not finished, but Christ has. It is all done. What you have to do will only be to work out whatHe has already finished for you, and show it to the sons of men in your lives. And because it is all finished, therefore say,"Now, Father, I return to You. My life, henceforth, shall be to be in You. My joy shall be to shrink to nothing in the Presenceof the All-in-All, to die into the eternal life, to sink my ego into Jehovah, to let my manhood, my creature hood live onlyfor its Creator and manifest only the Creator's Glory!
O Beloved, begin tomorrow morning and end tonight with, "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit." The Lord be with youall! Oh, if you have never prayed, God help you to begin to pray now, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITIONS BY C. H. SPURGEON. LUKE23:27-49, MATTHEW27:50-54.
Luke 23:27. And there followed Him a great company ofpeople, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him. Their best Friend,the Healer of their sick, the Lover of their children, was about to be put to death, so they might well bewail and lament.
28-30. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, andthe paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. OurSavior spoke of the terrible siege of Jerusalem, the most tragic of all human transactions. I think I do not exaggerate whenI say that history contains nothing equal to it. It stands alone in the unutterable agony of men, women and children in thatdreadful time of suffering.
31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? If the Christ of God is put to death evenwhile the Jewish capital seems vigorous and flourishing, what shall be done when it is all dry and dead, and the Roman legionsare round about the doomed city?
32. And there were also two other malefactors, led with Him to be put to death. Every item of scorn was added to our Savior'sdeath and yet the Scriptures were thus literally fulfilled, for, "He was numbered with the transgressors."
33. 34. And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one onthe right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And theyparted His raiment, and cast lots. Do you bear the hammer fall? "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, for they know not
what they do." Do you see the bleeding hands and feet of Jesus? This is all that is extracted by that fearful pressure- nothingbut words of pardoning love, a prayer for those who are killing Him-"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
35. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself,if He is Christ, the chosen of God. You know how mockery puts salt and vinegar into a wound. A man does not at any time liketo be reviled, but when he is full of physical and mental anguish and his heart is heavy within him, then ridicule is peculiarlyfull of acid to him.
36, 37. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If You are the King of theJews, save Yourself. These rough soldiers knew how to put their jests in the most cruel shape and to press home their scoffsupon their suffering Victim.
38. And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew. These were the three languagesthat could be understood by all the people round about.
38. THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And so He is, and so He shall be. He has never quit the throne. The Son of David is stillKing of the Jews, though they continue to reject Him. But the day shall come when they shall recognize and receive the Messiah."Then shall they look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for His only son, and shallbe in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for His first-born."
39. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If you are Christ, save Yourself and us. Matthew andMark speak of both the thieves as railing at Jesus. We must take their expressions as being literally correct and, if so,both the malefactors at first cast reproaches in Christ's teeth.
40. 41. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And weindeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man has done nothing amiss. Not only has He done nothingworthy of death, but He has done nothing improper, nothing out of place. "This man has done nothing amiss." The thief bearstestimony to the perfect Character of this wondrous Man, whom he, nevertheless, recognized to be Divine, as we shall see inthe next verse.
42-47. And He said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say untoyou, Today shall you be with Me in Paradise. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earthuntil the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had criedwith a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit: and having said this, He gave up the ghost. Now whenthe centurion saw what was done, He glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man. He was set there at the headof the guard, to watch the execution, and he could not help saying, as he observed the wonderful signs in Heaven and earth,"Certainly this was a righteous Man."
48. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.What a change must have come over that ribald crowd! They had shouted, "Crucify Him!" They had stood there and mocked Himand now they are overcome with the sight, and they strike their breasts. Ah, dear Friends, their grief did not come to much!Men may strike their breasts, but unless God smites their hearts, all the outward signs of a gracious work will come to nothingat all.
49. And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. Let "thesethings" be before your mind's eye this evening and think much of your crucified Lord, all you who are of His acquaintance,and who are numbered among His followers.
(As the Exposition is shorter than usual, an appropriate extract is added from Mr. Spurgeon's Commentary on the Gospel Accordingto Matthew).
Matthew 27:50. Jesus, when He had cried again with a load voice, yielded up the ghost. Christ's strength was not exhausted. His last Wordwas uttered with a loud voice, like the shout of a conquering warrior! And what a Word it was, "It is finished"! Thousandsof sermons have been preached upon that little sentence, but who can tell all the meaning that lies compacted within it? Itis a kind of infinite expression for breadth, depth, length and height altogether immeasurable! Christ's life being finished,perfected, completed, He yielded up the ghost, willingly dying, laying down His life as He said He would-"I lay down My lifefor My sheep. I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
51-53. And, behold, the veil of the Temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocksrent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection,and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Christ's death was the end of Judaism! The veil of the Temple was tornin two from the top to the bottom. As if shocked at the sacrilegious murder of her Lord, the Temple rent her garments, likeone stricken with horror at some stupendous crime! The body of Christ being rent, the veil of the Temple was torn in two fromthe top to bottom. Now was there an entrance made into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus, and a way of access to Godwas opened for every sinner who trusted in Christ's atoning Sacrifice.
See what marvels accompanied and followed the death of Christ! The earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves wereopened. Thus did the material world pay homage to Him whom man had rejected, while Nature's convulsions foretold what willhappen when Christ's voice once more shakes not the earth, only, but also Heaven! These first miracles worked in connectionwith the death of Christ were typical of spiritual wonders that will be continued till He comes again-rocky hearts are rent,graves of sin are opened, those who have been dead in trespasses and sins, and buried in sepulchers of lust and evil, arequickened and come out from among the dead, and go unto the holy city, the New Jerusalem!
54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done,they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. These Roman soldiers had never witnessed such scenes in connectionwith an execution, before, and they could only come to one conclusion about the illustrious Prisoner whom they had put todeath-"Truly this was the Son of God." It was strange that those men should confess what the chief priests and scribes andelders denied, yet since their day it has often happened that the most abandoned and profane have acknowledged Jesus as theSon of God while their religious rulers have denied His Divinity.