We can never contemplate enough the suffering of Christ on mount Calvary. High and lifted up on that beautiful and cruel cross for six hours, Christ uttered seven sayings. All the ink in the world is not sufficient to pen the depth of the words spoken by the “Man of Sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3) and the “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). And yet, as we stand at the foot of the cross our counseling is richly informed by Christ’s final words.
Christ’s Words to The Hardened Souls
In His entire life, Christ was mocked, hated, and attacked. A mock trial where He was shamed, despised, rejected, scourged and delivered the death sentence. Wicked, vile and lawless hands then nailed Him to the cross (Acts 2:23). As the blood thirsty mob surrounded Him scorning and wagging their heads (Psalm 22:3), Christ’s first utterance from the cross was a prayer for the murderous souls – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Years earlier, on a different mount, the mount of Olives, Christ instructed “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44). On the cross, Christ epitomized genuine love for His enemies by praying for their forgiveness and deliverance from sin. Here the counselor sees the greatest need of the hardened soul is mercy from God and pardon for sin.
Christ’s Words to The Penitent Sinner
Nailed on either side of that center cross were two criminals who reviled Him (Matthew 27:44). The crosses were a few feet apart such that the criminals would have heard Christ’s prayer for His enemies and read the sign Pilate put on Jesus’ cross – “King of the Jews.” Divine mercy intervened and one of the thieves believed Jesus was indeed King as the sign said. Having come to the end of himself, the thief confessed his wickedness (Luke 23:40-41) and made a penitent request for Christ to remember him when He came into His kingdom (Luke 23:39-42) and Christ assured him “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Though the thief had no ability to perform any works to save his wretched soul, he believed and confessed with his mouth that Jesus was his King (Romans 10:9). Forgiveness was granted to the vile criminal who was at the very doorstep of death. And so, the counselor understands that the deathbed need not be a place of hopeless despair for the sinner, for Christ saves even in life’s final breath.
Christ’s Words to The Sorrowful Saint
No mother has had a sword pierced her soul like Mary as she stood at the foot of that ruthless cross (Luke 2:35). Mary stood silent overcome with grief amidst the mockery and reviling but Christ saw her and John His beloved disciple standing with her. Christ said to her “Woman, behold, your son!” and to John – “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).
In this poignant moment, Christ honored His mother by obeying the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) and made provision for her. He carried out the words in Proverbs 23:22 to “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” without neglect. We see here the compassion of God for our physical and relational needs amidst His suffering. God is the Father of all comforts who comforts those who are afflicted (2 Corinthians 1:3). As counselors we too should be compassionate and comfort those who are afflicted.
Christ’s Words for The Wretchedness of Sin
“My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) was the fourth utterance from the cross as horrific infinite wrath lay on the spotless sin bearer. Darkness had overstepped its boundary into the blazing light of noon for three hours. The terrors of hell tormented Christ as God crushed His Son for our iniquities creating a relational separation between Father and Son.
Here we see the wretchedness of sin and end for the lost. They are cast out from the presence of God. Sin violently rips their communion with the Father for where sin resides, God in His holiness separates Himself. The lost will forever be cursed, forsaken, and left in hopeless utter darkness. As counselors, we should then always warn the lost of their pending doom.
Christ’s Words for Trust in Scripture
Knowing that His work was complete, the parched lips of Christ then uttered the words “I thirst” to fulfill the Scriptures. For six hours Christ hung on that cross in excruciating agony, but His mind remained fully fixated on the Word of God and He neglected not a single word of the Messianic Scriptures.
Here we see God’s Word was the lamp unto Christ’s feet (Psalm 119:105). Though forsaken, the Scriptures were His guiding light as He trusted His Father. Christ did not flinch in His submission to the written Word. Therefore, this should be our counsel to the believer to always run in the way of God’s commandments and keep His statutes to the end (Psalm 119:32, 33) no matter how tragic the circumstance.
Christ’s Words for Victory Over Sin
Having drained the cup of God’s wrath Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) or “Teleō” which is just one word in the Greek. It was the word of finality. The price is paid once for all. The wrath of God satisfied. The atonement of sin accomplished. Sinful man could now enter the presence of God through faith in the precious blood of Christ.
Here we have the word of triumph over sin and death. Our sinful soul is counted free! There is nothing for us to add to this finished work. Satan and death are defeated foes. We can resist the wiles of the devil and death no longer has a grip over us.
The counselor should then strengthen the believer with this truth as a present motivation to fight sin—we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11) and a future assurance of perfected sanctification (1 John 3:2-3). There is also no longer any fear of death because being absent from the body we are forever present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Christ’s Words for Trust in God’s Sovereignty
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46) was the final loud cry. Here Christ displayed complete trust in God’s sovereign plan as He yielded His spirit securely into the Father’s hands. This was the perfect death of the Author of Life.
In Christ’s dying we all learn how to die well. We entrust our spirits into the Father’s hands where no one can snatch us away (John 10:29). We die in the assurance of resurrection from death fully dependent of God’s sovereign plan for our glorification (Romans 8:29-30). We die knowing we will have perfect communion with God. As the Psalmist said:
As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness (Psalm 17:15).
It is of no coincidence that Christ uttered seven sayings on the cross. Seven is the number of completion and of holy perfections. Nothing more and nothing less needed to be said and Christ’s final words speak to us great wisdom not to be overlooked or neglected in our counseling to the sinner, saint and sufferer.