The Dying Trust The Dying

“Remember, he [the thief on the cross] was crucified. It was a crucified man trusting in a crucified Christ. Oh, when our frame is racked with torture, when the tenderest nerves are pained, when our body is hung up to die by we know not what great length of torment, then to forget the present and live in the future is a grand achievement of faith! While dying, to turn your eye to another dying at your side and trust your soul with Him is very marvelous faith.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Power of the Cross of Christ

What a stunning example of faith we find in this beaten and battered thief. When the thief looked upon Jesus, he saw a man who looked much like himself. He saw a man covered in blood, beaten beyond recognition, and groaning with the pangs of death. He saw a man who had been abused by Roman soldiers, mocked by the Pharisees, and deserted by His disciples. From external appearances, the thief had no reason to trust in Jesus.

Yet the thief recognized that Jesus was his only hope. The thief saw Jesus hanging from the cross, blood dripping from His brow, completely drained of all strength, and realized, “I need this man.”

What an example of faith for us! We know the end of the story. Christ is risen. He has beaten death, triumphed over sin and the grave, and now reigns from His throne. Christ is on our side, eager to save those who come to Him, and eager to dispense grace to us in our time of need. In Christ is all power, all grace, all mercy, all kindness, and all strength. Why would we ever doubt our Savior? How can we not trust Him?

Let us be provoked by the dying thief who trust in the dying Savior. The thief trusted when all he could see was a dying Jesus. We know the living Jesus.

Originally published July, 2007.

It Is Finished

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19:30

Oh how sweet these words are, like honey to the Christian’s soul. No sweeter words have been uttered since our Savior said, “It is finished,” while hanging from the cross. May God open our eyes to see all that He has accomplished for us through the cross. Let’s ponder these words for a moment.

It is finished. The glorious work of salvation is totally and completely finished. There is absolutely nothing left to do, Jesus did it all. Wrath is satisfied. Jesus fully absorbed the soul-crushing fury of God’s wrath towards sin, drinking the cup of God’s wrath to the very last drop. For those who trust in Christ, wrath is gone and only mercy remains.

It is finished. God’s law is fully satisfied. Jesus obeyed the law to its fullest extent. Every command of God, Jesus obeyed. His thoughts were perfect, His words were perfect, His worship was perfect, His life was perfect. The law can make no claims or accusations against Jesus, for He fulfilled the law. And praise God, the law cannot condemn the Christian either, for Christ is our righteousness.

It is finished. God’s righteousness is vindicated. At the cross we see that God is righteous. He doesn’t play around with sin or turn a blind eye towards sin. He hates it, despises it, cannot tolerate it in His presence. And because He blazes with righteousness, He must punish sin. At the cross we see the blazing righteousness of God on full display. As the wrath of God overwhelms Jesus it is proof that our God is righteous. The Christian who trusts in Christ is counted righteous as well.

At the cross Jesus completely finished the work of salvation. There is nothing left to be done, no works to be added. We are called to fling ourselves wholeheartedly upon the finished work of Christ, rejecting any self-righteousness as filthy garbage. Have you done that today? Have you freshly placed all your trust in the Savior, or are you trying to smuggle works into your relationship with God? Honor God by rejoicing in the words, “It is finished.”

Spurgeon On Jesus’ Thirst

“How great the love that led Him to such a condescension as this! Do not let us forget the infinite distance between the Lord of glory on His throne and the Crucified dried up with thirst. A river of the water of life, pure as crystal, proceeds today out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, and yet once He condescended to say, “I thirst.” He is the Lord of fountains and all deeps, but not a cup of cold water was placed to His lips.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Power of the Cross of Christ

I can’t say it any better than Spurgeon. The Lord of Glory bled and died that I might live forever. He was thirsty so that I might drink from the Fountain of Living Water. He was crushed by His Father that I might be embraced as a son.

Jesus, such wondrous love enthralls us. When we see all that You’ve done for us, our hearts cry out for joy. When we look upon You hanging from the cross, bleeding and thirsty, struggling for breath, our hearts are melted with love for You. How can we not love You? Your blood spilled upon the ground is overwhelming proof of Your great love for us.

Teach us to love You. Keep us near the cross that our hearts might blaze with love for You.

Thirsty

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” – John 19:28

Thirst. Such a human condition. After a hard day of working outside or a long jog, nothing is so sweet as an ice cold glass of water. A few days without water and we perish in a burning thirst. Corporations devote thousands of dollars every year to satisfy our thirst and mega-stars get paid absurd amounts of money to tell us what beverage we should drink. Humans are thirsty.

In the two words, “I thirst,” we see the utter humanity of Jesus. We see the depths to which our Savior stooped to redeem us and the heights of His magnificent love. Within these words is the great mystery of the incarnation, the wonder of God become man. Within these words is our salvation.

As Jesus hung upon the cross hour after brutal hour, His body began to break down. He was fully God, yes, but He was also fully and completely human. His hands had been driven through with nails, His back ripped open by the lash, and His head crowned by needle sharp thorns. The pain would have been nauseating, overwhelming, unimaginable. Seeing Him would have been enough to make us vomit. And accompanying all this was the raging thirst that precedes death.

Ponder for a moment the words uttered by the Savior. “I thirst.” The One who created the oceans, lakes, and rivers was thirsty. The One who brings the rain upon the fields was thirsty. The One who called Himself the fountain of living water was thirsty. God was thirsty.

Let us be freshly affected by the great humility of our Lord. Though He was God, the maker of the universe and giver of life, He became a man. The Creator stooped to save the created. Our Lord became lowly. How can we not love Him? How can we not love the One who became thirsty?

Truly Alone

This cry represents the most agonizing protest ever uttered on this planet. It burst forth in a moment of unparalleled pain. It is the scream of the damned – for us. – R.C. Sproul

In this strange, unnatural darkness, by the flickering light of the soldiers torches, we step closer to the cross to watch and listen.

Suddenly His face contorts in a display of anguish more terrible than anything we’ve yet seen. He can restrain Himself no longer. He screams out, “My God, my God!” Why have you forsaken me?

“Nowhere in all the Bible,” writes one author, “do we encounter any mystery that so staggers the mind and shocks the Christian consciousness as this tortured cry from the lips of our dying Savior.”

The cry is a question – but Jesus is not accusing His Father; nor is He perplexed as to why He’s dying. It’s a question from David’s words in Psalm 22, and on the cross our Lord is fulfilling that messianic Psalm. But Jesus is also doing more than that. He’s experiencing on the cross what no one in human history ever has or ever will experience. He’s receiving what you and I should be receiving – His Father’s full and furious wrath. He’s experiencing what every other human being in history deserves and which He alone does not deserve. And He’s experiencing it alone.

C.J. Mahaney – Christ Our Mediator