The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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       A neighboring church in the Louisiana city where I served as pastor hosted Holy Week services each year. Folks from both Baptist and non-Baptist churches gathered in the host church’s fellowship hall at noon to enjoy lunch and a short devotional presented by local pastors. The host pastor developed the theme and assigned the guest speakers their specific topic related to the overall theme. One year the focus was on aspects of the cross that began with the letter “C.” The “Christ of the Cross,” “The Crimes of the Cross,” “The Claims of the Cross,” and the last topic was “The Conquest of the Cross.”
     I didn’t maintain extensive notes during that week nearly 25 years ago but I did remember the list of topics noted above with the exception of one day. I simply was drawing a blank with respect to the missing “C” word that focused on the cross. Realizing that my mental hard drive was frozen and unable to recall the missing topic, I placed a call to Dr. Jim Futral. Inasmuch as he has a penchant for rhyme and alliteration, I thought he might help me fill-in-the-blank especially since the whole outline on which I was working sounded somewhat “Futralistic.” I told him what I was attempting to accomplish and he, almost immediately, suggested “The Cries from the Cross.”
     Acknowledging the challenge in offering insight into the seven words/sayings of Jesus from the cross with any degree of brevity (Everyone familiar with Doc’s preaching recognizes that he is not generally known for being brief), Doc encouraged me to explore this topic. Therefore, this edition of “From Daniel’s Den” explores Jesus’ sayings (or cries) from the cross outlined as:


Cries from Humanity.

  • “I thirst” (John 19:28). Jesus was God incarnate. He was fully God but also fully man. Many people, however, had difficulty accepting the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh. When John recorded “I thirst,” he magnified the human aspect of Jesus’ nature. Having endured incredible abuse prior to being crucified and then hanging on the cross with blood seeping from his wounds caused by the beatings, the razor-sharp thorns on the “crown” upon his head, and the nails in his hands and feet, Jesus’ body was severely depleted of moisture and he uttered “I thirst” (John 19:28). This cry from the cross is one with which everyone can relate. We all get thirsty and we all need water to live. This cry highlights the physical by underscoring Jesus’ humanity as the Word that “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1).
  • “Dear woman, here is your son” (and to the disciple) “here is your mother” (John 19:26-27) In the midst of an orchestral score replete with the dissonant chords of cruelty and injustice, a tender note resounds as Jesus addresses his mother and the disciple whom he loved. Looking down at his mother, Jesus may have nodded toward John when he said “Woman, behold thy son!” And then to John, Jesus said “Behold thy mother.” As if offering his Last Will and Testament, Jesus orally bequeathed to the beloved disciple the one person who was nearest and dearest to him on earth. Though in great agony with the weight of the world upon his shoulders, Jesus laid stress on the familial as he expressed concern for his mother. As Mary’s oldest son, Jesus was thinking about his mom and her need for care and comfort in his absence. From that moment forward, John honored the trust that Jesus had placed in him. He cared for Mary and Mary found comfort in John.   

     Family is important and followers of Jesus should follow his example in our concern for family. Regarding the priority of family, Paul equated caring for family with putting religion into action because “this is pleasing to God” (1 Tim. 5:4). Paul further instructed Timothy with “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

  • My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Jesus’ statement hearkened back to the prayer of lament offered by the psalmist (Psalm 22). Not unlike the psalmist, Jesus wondered why God did not intervene in the midst of unjust suffering. Matthew outlined the parallel between this psalm (vv. 1, 7-8, and 18) and Jesus’ experience on the cross complete with lots being cast for Jesus’ garments, the mocking and insults, and the anguished cry of abandonment (Matt. 27:35, 39, 46). This cry from the cross is a very personal cry (“my God”) as Jesus reached out once again to the One with whom he had communed throughout his earthly ministry.

     When trouble comes our way, we may feel that God lacks concern for our needs or the situation with which we are dealing. God, however, is “a very present help in time of need/trouble” (Psa. 46:1). We have Jesus’ assurance that we are not alone in the midst of trouble (John 14:15).


Cries in Humility.

  • “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Although Jesus was fully divine (“being in the very nature God”), he “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped” (Philippians 2). In humility, Jesus interceded on behalf of ignorant transgressors. He addressed his heavenly father with an appeal for forgiveness. The immediate context may suggest that Jesus was appealing specifically on behalf of the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross but the larger context of “them” points to everyone involved in his death inclusive of the chief priest, rulers, and the people [Luke 23:13-14; (and “they” of Luke 23:18, 20-21, 23-25)].

     Although pelted with a barrage of insults from spectators encouraging Jesus to demonstrate his divinity by saving himself (v. 35), Jesus took on “the very nature of a servant… (and) humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2). Jesus’ cry from the cross was an intercessory prayer offered by a humble servant and focused on the remission or cancellation of sin. Commenting on this verse, E.E. Ellis asserted “The prayer is answered by his death, which brings the forgiveness of sins” (Luke, 267).

  • “Into Thy hands, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Though echoing the psalmist with these words (Psa. 31:5), unlike the psalmist’s commitment to life, Jesus’ cry from the cross was a humble committal to death as he committed his life into the hands of his Father. Even as Jesus submitted himself to the will of the Father while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, this cry from the cross points to the humble submission by the Son to the Father in anticipation of fulfilling his earthly mission and entering his heavenly glory (Luke 24:26). Just as he lived in daily submission to God, Jesus faced death by placing his life into the hands of his father. Though persecution and criticism are often directed toward a person who lives in humble obedience and submission to the will of God, Jesus’ humility should be a model for his followers to emulate (Acts 7:59).


Cries of the Heavenly.

  • “Verily (I tell you the truth) I say unto Thee, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).”Truly/verily” represents the term “Amen” which is unique to Jesus and occurs over 70 times in the Gospels. While the term typically confirms a previous statement, Jesus employed the terms to lay stress on what was to follow. Two criminals were crucified with Jesus. One criminal acknowledged his sin and Jesus’ innocence while the other criminal repeated the challenge of the onlookers for Jesus to save himself if he really was the Christ. One criminal accompanied his confession of sin with a plea to be remembered by Jesus “when you come into your kingdom.” The other criminal continued his taunts. One criminal received Jesus’ mercy and salvation. The other criminal did not. This cry from the cross emphasizes Jesus’ authority to forgive sin and to provide salvation (1 John 1:9; Luke 5:21; Mark 2:7-11).
  • “It is finished” (John 19:30). When Jesus uttered “I thirst,” he received a hyssop reed on which a cloth soaked in sour vinegar was attached. The hyssop is reflective of the Passover Lamb and God’s deliverance of his people from Egyptian bondage. Thus, while Jesus was certainly thirsty in human terms due to the loss of body fluids through bleeding and perspiration, his longing for liquid was a focus on eternity as he was about to utter forth a cry of the heavenly.
     Not wanting to speak in a whisper with a weak and hoarse voice, Jesus desired to sooth his vocal chords in preparation to offer a shout of victory and deliverance…“Teletestai” – “It is finished!” His was a cry of completion as the term describes the final act in the accomplishment of a purpose. Jesus had the God-given task of preaching the Gospel, performing miracles, and providing reconciliation for sinners. As the good shepherd, (John 10-14-18), Jesus acknowledged his assignment and he asserted his authority to lay down his life in fulfillment of his purpose. As a boy at the temple, Jesus had responded to his parents “know ye not that I must be about my father’s business.” (Luke 2:49).  He was “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). He had completed his father’s business. He had fulfilled the final act in God’s redemptive purpose for the world – the debt of sin had been paid – and he cried “It is finished!”
      Jesus, having emptied himself, gave the world everything that he had to give. This cry from the cross was not a cry of futility or finality or defeat. Rather, the statement points to a new beginning or opportunity. Even as the “O” in “L-O-V-E” about which I shared in February represents “opportunity,” the opportunity for victory is available to “whosoever believeth in him…(to) have eternal life.” Why? Because death did not have the final word for Jesus nor does death have the final word for those who profess him as their Savior. The opportunity to experience eternity with Jesus is expressed by the words:


“The cross upon which Jesus died, is a shelter in which we can hide;

And its grace so free is sufficient for me, and deep in its fountain, as wide as the sea.

There’s room at the cross for you, there’s room at the cross for you;

Tho millions have come, there’s still room for one, Yes there’s room at the cross for you.”


Dear Lord, thank you for becoming flesh and relating to the world in a personal manner. Thank you for my family and giving me the privilege and responsibility to minister to them. Thank you for canceling a debt that I did not have the ability to pay. Thank you for completing your Father’s business so that I could be washed in the blood of the Lamb and receive the blessed assurance of eternal salvation. May I honor you as I live in humble submission to your will. Amen.