Pastor Greg Laurie on Sunday shared with the congregation of his California megachurch the significance of Jesus' last words, the seven statements from the cross, which reflected His love for the lost and the accomplishment of His purpose.
Apple founder Steve Jobs said in one of his last speeches, "Death is very likely the best single invention of life," but he was wrong because death is actually an enemy, not a friend, said Pastor Laurie of Harvest Church in his sermon, "Famous Last Words," the last in a series, "God Came Near," which took a chronological look at the life of Jesus.
Death is the last enemy to be destroyed, Laurie said, referring to 1 Corinthians 16:26. It was never God's will that we would die, but it became a part of life due to Adam and Eve's sin, he explained. "But death died when Christ rose."
Jesus managed to make seven statements from the cross, each of them of the greatest importance, at a time when He was wounded and exhausted beyond description.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do," was the first statement, according to Luke 23:34, the pastor shared.
This wasn't surprising, as Jesus was a man of prayer, and this statement was a prayer, Laurie said. But Jesus didn't pray, "Father, help Me," he pointed out.
This is what Jesus had taught, that we should love and pray for our enemies, Laurie told the congregation. Jesus prayed for the very people who were mocking Him despite the fact that He was paying the price for their own sins.
Because of these words, one of the two hardcore criminals who were crucified beside Him came to his senses and believed in Him, as recorded in Luke 23:39-43, the pastor added. "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise," the second statement of Jesus from the cross.
Jesus' mother, Mary, was perhaps one of the most misunderstood people in the Bible, Laurie went on to say. Some believe that we should go to Jesus through Mary, or that she never sinned, but these beliefs are not based on the Bible, he stressed. She indeed was a great woman, whom God blessed and chose, he added.
A mother has a connection with her child like no one else, Laurie said. Mary bore Jesus in her womb and raised Him. And Jesus was a perfect child to her. And this explains Jesus' third statement, according to John 19:26-27: "Woman, behold your son. Son Behold your mother."
While Jesus' disciples went hiding, Mary stood at the cross, the pastor added. She didn't faint because of the gravity of the situation, but stood there to tell Jesus she was with Him and loved Him. In His statement, Jesus likely referred to John when He said, "Woman, behold your son." He was entrusting John the responsibility of looking after Mary, Laurie explained.
Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" according to Matthew 27:46, the fourth statement. Without explanation, the sky turned dark after that, from 12 to 3 in the afternoon, as Jesus bore the sin of the world, Laurie said.
It's a confusing statement, but the Bible records it, which points to truthfulness of the Bible; it is not fiction, Laurie told the congregation.
Jesus wasn't complaining and nor was He doubting. "Jesus was simply describing what was taking place," Laurie said. Most likely, all the sins of the world were being placed upon Him, and the Holy Father turned His face away. Jesus was forsaken by the Father for a time so that we can enjoy His presence forever, Laurie said.
"God was punishing Jesus as if He had personally committed every wicked deed committed by every wicked sinner. And in doing so, He can forgive those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ's perfect life of righteousness," the pastor stated.
After this came Jesus' fifth and sixth statements, "I thirst," and "It is finished," according to John 19:28 and John 19:30, respectively. And then the last statement, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," as recorded in Luke 23:46.
Jesus' first statement was a prayer, and so was the last, Laurie explained. He concluded by telling the congregation that everyone will have their last meal, their last breath and their last statement. "If you're right with God, you do not have to fear, because you're going to be with the Lord."