What do you say when you are suffering? What comes out of your mouth when you are hurting? Those are not theoretical questions. In the middle of Covid-19, we know what comes out of our mouths when we suffer. We don’t have to guess at what we might do and say when we have troubles. We know.
I used to think that I endured suffering pretty well. Then (a number of years ago) I got the flu a couple of times one year and after getting me set up and checking on me, Raye Jeanne graciously (but clearly) informed me, “You’re not a very good patient…” My children echoed her sentiment and I was convicted. In a very small affliction I was whining and complaining. How are you doing in your suffering? Are you preoccupied with what you are enduring? Or are you thinking about what the Lord might be doing in your life and teaching you in this? Or even more, are you — like our Savior — thinking about how you can serve and help others?
For six hours one Friday, Jesus Christ endured the greatest suffering that any person has ever endured. His physical suffering was immense, though others may have endured more physically. But no one has received the spiritual suffering Jesus did as the sin-bearer who took the wrath of God for all the sin of all who would ever believe in Christ. His suffering was past our comprehension or imagination.
Yet all the while He was suffering, Jesus was ministering to those who were at the cross by His prayers and short teaching statements. In seven distinct moments while on the cross, Jesus made statements that inform us what kind of Savior He is, and also how to live. The seven words He spoke while suffering revealed His final perspective and final declaration of what His work on the cross was accomplishing.
On Good Friday for the past six years, we have been considering each of these seven statements in turn:
- “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”
- “Today you will be with me in paradise”
- “Woman, behold your Son…(to the disciple) Behold your mother”
- “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
- “I am thirsty”
- “It is finished”
The first three words concern His personal relationships — a prayer for His executioners, a promise to the thief (His fellow-sufferer on that day), and a provision for His mother.
The next three words concern His work of salvation — the cry concerning His moral suffering (“My God…”), the groan concerning His physical suffering (“I am thirsty”), and the triumphant declaration of victory (“it is finished”). The final word concerns His fellowship with and trust of the Father in all things. Tonight we come to that final statement: “Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit” (Lk. 23:46). In this short and final declaration, Jesus offers (at least) two messages:
1. “Father:” A Word of Fellowship
2. “Into Your Hands:” A Word of Trust