Lessons From The Cross

And it was about the sixth hour, 
and there was a darkness over   
all the earth until the ninth hour.
And the sun was darkened, and  
the veil of the temple was rent in  
the midst. And when Jesus had   
cried with a loud voice, he said,  
Father, into Thy hands I commend
my spirit: and having said thus, he
gave up the ghost. Luke 23:44-46

We know that our Lord Jesus spoke at least seven times while he was hanging on that cruel wooden cross. From the words he spoke, we can learn many lessons. As we prepare to celebrate Easter, and the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, here are seven lessons that we can learn from the words he spoke while on the cross.

"Father, forgive them for they don't know what they do." (Luke 23:24)

1. Forgive those who hurt you.

Forgiving means refusing to remain a victim by not holding grudges. By not retaliating you free yourself from the control of those who offend you. Jesus said, "Pray for anyone who mistreats you." (Matt. 5:24) He also said "Give as freely as you have received." (Matthew 10:8). Practicing forgiveness stems from a deep gratitude to God for wiping out a debt so great, we never could have paid it.

"Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

2. Reach out to others.

God said, "If you confess and forsake your sins, you will receive mercy." (Proverbs 28:13) That promise is for the lost, the least, and the lowest among us. It is in reaching out to others that we ourselves become whole.

"Woman, behold thy Son." (John 19:26)

3. Take care of the people that depend on you.

Never let your own suffering blind you to the needs of those who depend on you. When you're unmatched in your own problems, it's easy to aasume that your loved ones automatically understand what you're going through. Not necessarily. While it's okay to let them help, never dump it on them, or expect them to suffer because you are suffering.

The Bible says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." ( Phil. 2:3) Jesus was always more concerned with the needs of other people, rather than His own, and we should take our cue from Him.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)

4. Direct the hard questions to God.

If you've ever felt overwhelmed and abandoned, you know from experience that there is not another living soul who has a satisfactory answer to the question "Why?" With the best intentions, our loved ones can only go so far. God alone can pour his healing balm into our breaking heart, and help you make sense of what's happening, or at least help you to accept it. That's why you need to go directly to him for your answers.

The flip side to directing the tough questions to God is this: you must be willing to accept His answer, and do what He says. The Bible says in Hebrews 6:17-18 that God has given us His promise and His oath, so that even if you don't get the answer you want, you can rest assured that He hears you. You can also be certain of something else: The one who makes everything work together for the good of those who love him, (Romans 8:28) always sends the answer that’s in your best interest, so you can trust him absolutely.

"I'm thirsty." (John 19:28)

5. Acknowledge your humanity.

When you're in a dark valley like Jesus was that day, it can cloud your thinking and make you lose perspective unless you voice your needs to those around you.

By acknowledging His physical thirst, Jesus reminded each of us that there are times when we are not self-sufficient and we need help from others. Why else would Paul write: "Bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:2) God remembers we are just human, we are the ones who forget! The bottom line is Jesus was humble enough to acknowledge His humanity, and we need to learn to do the same.

"It is finished." (John 19:30)

6. You can add nothing to it.

Christ's death covers your every sin, from the cradle to the grave. To offer your good works as partial payment insults God. You can't add to a finished work!

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) Saving faith requires trusting only in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

7. Release it to God.

Some of the issues we struggle with seem to be never ending, things like money worries, family problems, and health concerns. Even when we get a break and should be resting, we sit up anticipating the worst, and wondering, ‘How long, Lord?" The only way to have real peace is to commit the outcome to God. When Jesus cried, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit", it wasn't a cry of defeat or resignation. No, it was an act of trust that meant surrendering control to the Father. The atoning blood had been shed, and salvation's work was finally complete.

But before Jesus could pray that prayer, he first had to pray: "Not my will, but Thine be done." (Luke 22:42) That's a prayer we must each learn to pray. The cross not only calls us to Jesus, it also calls us to a way of life. It calls us to the wisdom of God's ways in all our relationships and pursuits. It calls us to the pattern of Jesus, even in the face of our deepest struggles. So whatever you're wrestling with today, release it to God once and for all. When you do, you'll experience His peace, and you won't be disappointed with the outcome.

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