A Savior of Few Words

Jesus said and did a lot in His three years of ministry as the Son of Man, but when it came to His time on the cross, He was a Savior of few words, at least as recorded in Scripture. If the Bible’s accounts are complete (and my math is correct), He spoke only 55 words during six hours on the cross.

Part of Jesus’ restraint was no doubt of necessity. The point of Roman crucifixion was to rob its victims of air — not exactly the ideal circumstance for conversation. But we also know from the trial that preceded the crucifixion that Jesus was selective in how He answered the charges against Him. He said only what needed to be said to Pilate, Herod and His accusers.

The same was true from the cross. Aside from personal instructions to His mother and the apostle John, Jesus preached to the very end, as captured in a few phrases.

He preached forgiveness of the people responsible for His death: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

He preached hope to the penitent thief: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

He preached through His own suffering by appealing to the words of David (Psalm 22:1): “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

He preached as he fulfilled prophecy by taking sour wine and gall (Psalm 69:21): “I am thirsty.”

And He preached the completion of His mission: “It is finished.”

Those last three words weren’t about the end of His physical life. They were a statement about the debt that He paid for all mankind — the debt He paid for you and me.

This feast that we share each Lord’s Day — the bread that represents Jesus’ body and fruit of the vine that represents His blood — is a reminder that the bill for our sins never has to come due because we are alive in Christ. Remember Him now as we partake of these emblems.

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