We are facing challenging, scary, pandemic times. The world we live in feels dangerous. Every week we hear of the reports of people hurting people, job loss, costs increasing, political upheaval, racism, cancel culture, and it seems as if there is no end.
How can we survive these difficult days? The worst and best day in all of humankind’s history was the day Jesus Christ went to the Cross for us. It was a horrible day in that God’s only begotten Son died a torturous death and took on all humankind’s sins. There was a moment when Jesus was alone, separated from His Heavenly Father. It was the best day because it brought about the gift of eternal life and the opportunity for us to live with the Lord in Heaven forever. What can we learn from our Lord as He went through the worst moment in His life?
#1. Forgive those who hurt or offend us: Luke 23:34 says, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
Jesus spoke only a few words from the Cross, and His words of forgiveness were the first thing he said. Jesus lived and died by the words He taught, “love your enemies” (6:27-28). The Jews made a serious mistake, for they failed to realize God’s plan for their nation. If they had known what they were doing, they would not have done it.
1 Corinthians 2:8 says, “But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would never have crucified our glorious Lord.” The Lord’s forgiveness is needed for us to be saved.
Matthew 26:28 says, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Forgiving others, letting go of any bitterness, resentment is crucial to our health and well-being, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
#2. It is never too late to turn to God: Luke 23:43 says, “Assuredly I say to you today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
While on the Cross, at the worst moment, he brought assurance of where He was going and where anyone can go if we believe and receive Jesus, as did the thief on the Cross. This dying criminal had more faith than the followers of Jesus. Jesus assured him that today — that very day after they breathed their last — the criminal would be with [him] in paradise. This word was used to reflect the image of the Old Testament Garden of Eden. This place would be one of beauty, joy, and rest. It is never too late to turn to God. Even in his misery, Jesus had mercy on this criminal who decided to believe.
2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” The Bible teaches us that there is no in-between or intermediate state exists between life and death. For those who did “in Christ,” we are immediately in Heaven. As we breathe our last breath on earth, our next breath will be Heaven.
#3. Ask for help and help others: John 19:26-27 says, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, Woman, behold your Son! Then He said to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”
In the final words of Jesus, we learn about what is important, family. When you are part of a church community, you are part of a family. Romans 12:5 says, “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.”
Ephesians 2:19 says, “You are members of God’s very own family, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” We have been created to be part of God’s family. The Christian life is not just a matter of believing. It is a matter of belonging. Community is one of the key ways we build a support system and survive pandemic times.
#4. Pray and cry out to the Lord with our troubles: In Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out, “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus was quoting the first line of Psalm 22. The context of this psalm was a prayer of expectation for God’s deliverance, not a cry of abandonment. The psalm is a prophecy expressing the deep agony of the Messiah’s death for the world’s sin. Jesus knew that he would be temporarily separated from God the moment he took upon himself the sins of the world because God cannot look on evil (Habakkuk 1:13).
Psalm 34:17-19 says, “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Our cry will not fall on deaf ears. There was a moment when Jesus was forsaken, but then His Father came to His rescue. We can learn that there will be an answer coming, but according to God’s timing, not our wants and desires.
#5. Submit to the Will of God: John 19:28-29 “‘I thirst’… After this Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the Scripture might be fulfilled said ‘I thirst.’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there, and they filled a sponge with sour wine put it on hyssop and put it in His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine He said it is finished and bowing His head He gave up His spirit.”
Jesus knew He had carried out the mission his Father had given him. His success was complete at the moment of his death. “I thirst” points to Psalm 42:2 says, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV). Jesus was submitted to the Will of His Father.
#6. Be faithful as God is faithful: John 19:30 “It is finished…”
The Greek word used for “finished” means “it is accomplished,” “it is fulfilled,” or even, “it is paid in full.” Jesus’ death accomplished redemption — “paid in full”; and his death fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies. Up to the Cross, sin could be atoned through a complicated system of sacrifices. Sin separates people from God, and only through the sacrifice of an animal, a substitute, and faith in God’s promise, could people be forgiven.
People sin continually, so frequent sacrifices were required. Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin. With His death, the complex sacrificial system ended because Jesus took all sin upon Himself. Those who believe in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection can live eternally with God and escape the penalty of sin.
1 Corinthians 10:11-13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The Scriptures teach us that Lord will not give us more than we can handle. One of the challenges we have, as we face difficult times, is trying to stay positive till the end. It is hard to keep going when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. The most challenging place in a trial is in the middle because it seems that the beginning and end are nowhere in sight.
#7. Keep on trusting in our Lord: Luke 23:44-49, “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit,” reflects His surrender and trust in His Heavenly Father. These were Jesus’ final words from the Cross. In committing His spirit to the Father, Jesus died, fulfilling the words of Psalm 31:5. Jesus did not become unconscious only to be revived later — He breathed His last breath. Jesus died as a human being — voluntarily, sacrificially, in the place of sinners.
John 1:12 says, “…but as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God even to those who believe in His name.”
- Admit your need for the Savior, Jesus
- Repent and be willing to turn away from your sin
- Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross
- Receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life and live forever!
Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in!”
I am looking forward to seeing you on Easter Sunday!