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With these words, well complete the study we began a couple of months ago. Its called Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings. Our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross for six hoursbetween nine in the morning and three in the afternoon. During that time, He spoke seven times, saying everything there was to say. Some of us could learn from this: there is often more power in a few words than in many.
During His last hours, the Lord spoke to His Father, to His family, to His friends, and to His enemies. Since God is the Alpha and the Omega it seems fitting that the first and last words from the cross were spoken to Him.
Matthew Henry has a lot to say on the Lords final saying from the cross. So lets get to it.
In the first place, the Lords last cry showed His love and reverence for the Word of God. Henry says
The Puritan has hit on some important things here: First, even with His dying gasp, our Lord is thinking Biblically. Why? Because He had spent His whole life meditating on that Word. Men who live without God often resort to His Word as theyre dying. Thats good in its own way, but why not live in the same Word in which you hope to die? How dear the Word of God was to our Savior! And how precious it ought to be to us!
It has been said that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he dies. President Andrew Jackson was a bitter and unforgiving man who died as he had lived: I have only two regrets in lifehe saidThat I didnt shoot Henry Clay and hang John C. Calhoun. How can a sinnerwho hopes for mercydie with a heart full of revenge? Jackson did. He lived in bitterness and died in it too.
In the same way, our Lord lived in the Scripture and died with a quote on His lips.
Also on this point, Henry says that our Lord died in the knowledge that He had done what God wanted Him to. The old prophecies said a lot about Messiahs life, His conduct, His attitude, His words, and so on. The Lord lived up to them all.
You are not perfect and you cannot live without sin, but you can live in Gods Word and you can die knowingnot that youve kept all of His commandsbut that your life pleased Him. Enoch had that testimony; Paul had it; many others have too. Why dont you join them? Why dont you live in the Word and die without regrets?
The last words our Lord spoke before His death are a powerful witness to the life He lived in the Word and by the Word! Thats the first thing Matthew Henry has to tell us.
In the second place, the words tell us that God accepted His sacrifice.
This is an interesting comment: when forsaken in the place of sinners, our Lord calls His Father, Goda name that is somewhat impersonal and may give off the scent of Judge. But now, He calls God Father signifying that the sacrifice He offered for us has been accepted. God forsook our Lord on the cross, butin the endthey are reconciled. Because Gods justice has been satisfied. Jesus Christ has suffered enoughfor us.
This means that all who believe in Christ have a Father in heavennot Father in the sense of a superior being to whom were accountable (though thats true too), but a Father in the sense of One who loves us more dearly than the most affectionate father on earth!
If you have a bad father on earth, thats all right: You have a good Father in heaven. If you have a good father on earth, just imagine how wonderful your Father in Heaven must be.
The Lords agony is over: God has once again become His Father and accepted Him as His Son. And not just His Father, but our Father too. And not only is Christ the Son of God, but believers are too, having been adopted into the Best Family of all.
The words spoken to Mary Magdalene are not as well known aslets say--John 3:16, but they ought to be as theyre full of the same Gospel comfort,
Who are we to have the same God and Father as the Lord Jesus Christ? By nature were children of the devil and serve the king of hell. But by grace, we have become the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and as loved in heaven as He is!
In the third place, Henry says something about the ransom paid for our salvation.
Henry has packed a book of theology into one paragraph. Ill try to briefly open it up to you. People owe God their obedience, but we do not pay it. This puts us in debt to God, a debt we have no way of paying off. Thus, God has every right to foreclose on our bodies and souls. And He would have unless the debt had been paid for us. Which it was by the Lord Jesus Christ! Where would the payment go? It would go into the hands of the creditor. And that is exactly what our Lord is doing, offering HimselfHis sinless life and sacrificial deathto satisfy Gods legal claims on us.
He has done this. This is why Martin Luther could call the Christian Sinful and just at the same time. Anyone who looks at His life honestly knows He has not loved God with all his heart or his neighbor as himself. We are still sinners and will be until we die. Yet we are just sinnersrighteous sinners because of what Christ has done for us.
If youre a believer, you understand the great hymn sung to our Lord Jesus Christ:
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill thy Laws demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save and Thou alone.
We dont put anything into the hands of God to pay off our debt or to buy His favor. It is Christ alone who did this. Did thisfor sinners!
Finally, Henry says something about the Lords example in dying and how we ought to follow it.
This is not something youre likely to read in a modern booknot even a Christian book published in the last several decades. What Henry is saying however, needs to be said: our witness for God includes how we die. Dying is something we do, and I Corinthians 10:31 says, Whether you eat or drinkor whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.
This means we ought to die for His glory. Many have done this in the past: think of Stephen praising God as the rocks rain down on him, or Paul ready to be poured out as a drink offeringto God! Adolphe Monod was a Swiss pastor in the 19th Century and one of the best preachers of his age. He hoped to win many souls to Christ through his preaching, but he didnt. Because he died young. Yet the mans godliness was so great that younger menespecially young men aspiring to the ministrysat with him in the last weeks of his life. They wrote down what he said in those hard times and the words became a book, Adolphe Monods Farewell, one of the finest devotional books ever written and a winner of many thousands of souls. The Bible says The prayer of the righteous will be granted. Monod got what he wantedthough not in the way he wanted it. He was a great soul winner, but like Samson he got More in his death than he did in his life.
Are you going to die well? I can tell you one thing: You will not die well without Christ. At a funeral a last year, I heard a man say his mother (who was not a believer) died with dignity and courage. But it wasnt at his mothers funeral that he said this and he wasnt praising her. In fact, what he was doing was contrasting her death with the death of a saint who died in hope of eternal life.
What a difference! Facing the inevitable with the courage of a stoic or with the faith of a Christian! Are you going to die in Christ? If you are, youd better get into Him now. You do that through faith.
Another thing should be said here: You will not die well if you die full of resentments and regrets. Old grudges do not make for a happy deathbed. And neither do the sorrows of serving yourself rather than God with the time He gave you.
The Lord Jesus Christ had no grudges and no regrets. He died in faith that what His Father said about the saints death was true: precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
You need to die this way: it glorifies God andwho knowsmaybe it will win that stubborn loved one to Christ. I read of a Christian man dying with these words on his lips: Its all true! Everything God said about heaven is true. And youll have them all when you die as our Lord didwith faith in the promises of God.
Thats Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings. If you meditate on these Sayings the Lord Jesus Christ will become more and more precious to you.
So go do it. And God bless you, everyone.
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