Have you ever reached the end of the Easter season at your church and realized that even though you celebrated the resurrection and empty tomb of Jesus, you never took time to examine Jesus on the cross, and the events leading up to it? In a sense, you just skipped right over Good Friday. It’s easy to get caught up in the joy and the celebration of the Gospel (and we should!), and not realize that the resurrection only happened because of Jesus on the cross.
Even though it’s hard to think of Jesus on the cross, focusing on the cross gives meaning to the empty tomb.
Scripture tells us that Jesus said seven phrases while He was on the cross of Calvary that not only reinforce His Earthly ministry, but also give further insight into His character. In taking a closer look at these phrases and paying attention to the details, you can prepare your church to celebrate the resurrection because they will better understand the true cost of Jesus on the cross.
- Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
- Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
- John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.
- Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
- John 19:28: I thirst.
- John 19:30: It is finished.
- Luke 23:46: Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.
1. Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Here, we see Jesus on the cross praying for the very people that were working to kill him. Even in His death, Jesus was looking at others and giving the mercy, grace, and forgiveness that only He could offer. Not only that, but Jesus was interceding for sinners, modeling what believers today are called to do to carry on His ministry.
2. Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
When one of the two criminals that hung beside Jesus asked that Jesus remember him in His kingdom, this was Jesus’s response. This statement reveals Jesus’s supremacy and His power to save. In the same way, when we recognize Jesus as King and make Him Lord of our lives, He is faithful to save us too.
3. John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.
As Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, He lovingly entrusted the care of His mother, Mary, to John, the disciple that He loved. In doing so, he not only revealed His love for His mother and desire for her to be taken care of, but also His obedience to the Law. In the Old Testament Law, the firstborn son was to take care of his mother, so Jesus was obedient to the end. Now, we too are to be obedient to the commands of Jesus and to make sure we are lovingly caring for those entrusted to us.
4. Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
This may be one of the hardest moments in Scripture to grasp because even though the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One, for this moment the Father was separated from the Son. Because God is holy, He cannot be in the presence of sin. But, we know that Jesus on the cross became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that we could be washed clean and spend eternity with God when we choose to believe in Him. This statement should break our heart and give us a deep, deep sense of gratitude. Because Jesus became sin and left God’s presence, we can now be saved and can enter His presence. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
5. John 19:28: I thirst.
Born as God incarnate, Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Here, we see His humanity. As Jesus hung on the cross, He expressed His thirst and received vinegar to drink (fulfilling the prophecy in Psalm 69:21). Because of this, we can know that Jesus knows and understands our sufferings. There is nothing we can’t bring to Him that He won’t understand.
6. John 19:30: It is finished.
As Jesus was on the cross and seconds away from death, He exclaimed that “it is finished”! His suffering was over, His work that the Father gave Him to do was over, and He had made a way for sinners to live in eternity with God. He had successfully conquered death and accomplished His mission. While this was the end of Jesus’s ministry on Earth, it was the beginning of His new covenant with His followers. Our sin died with Jesus on the cross of Calvary. This phrase should bring us great joy and reason to celebrate— He did it and it is finished!
7. Luke 23:46: Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.
In His last breath, Jesus willingly gave up His spirit on the cross. His last words reveal that His spirit was not taken from Him, but instead He gave it as the ultimate sacrifice paving a way for us to receive salvation. As we look to His model, we too should be willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the Gospel.
Our prayer is that by taking time to examine Jesus on the cross this season, your celebration of the resurrection will be richer, more meaningful, and filled with utter gratitude.
If you are looking for other resources to help in your Easter planning this year, be sure to check out our Easter Survival Guide to find out everything you need to do to make this Easter at your church the best yet!