Utterances on the Cross
We continue to study the Seven Utterances of Jesus, while he was dying on the cross. The last four utterances were about himself.
In this utterance we see the faith of Jesus. Many teach that Jesus felt abandoned by God, and some even say that he was. However, I think we quite misunderstand this utterance if we think it expresses despair. It is a direct quote from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm. This is a Messianic psalm. The religious leaders quoted this psalm against Jesus: "Let God rescue him if he delights in him" (Psa 22:7-8, Mtt 27:41-43). The Psalm contradicts the idea that God turned away from Jesus: "For God has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, nor has he hidden his face from him, but when he cried to him for help, God heard" (Psa 22:24). Although uttering only the anguished first words of the Psalm, Jesus was drawing upon the spirit of the whole Psalm: "In you our fathers trusted; they trusted and you delivered them; to you they cried out and were delivered; in you they trusted and were not disappointed" (Psa 22:4-5).
In this utterance we see the suffering of Jesus. If we think that the Son of God was perhaps exercising some power by which he could avoid enduring the pain, we know we are mistaken, because Jesus complains of feeling one of the agonies of crucifixion —a terrible thirst: "My strength is dried up like a broken clay pot, and my tongue sticks to my jaws" (Psa 22:15). It is part of the Christian belief that we have our "salvation through sufferings" which Jesus endured to bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10).
In this utterance we see the satisfaction of Jesus. The question of what Jesus meant by "it" is a cause for much discussion. It is natural to take it that he meant the ordeal of crucifixion was finished. It is also natural to suppose he meant his whole journey through earthly life, from birth to death, was finished. What we do know for certain, is that Jesus is both "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2), and what he started he saw through right to the end.
In this utterance we see the submission of Jesus. Jesus "humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Php 2:8). Now with one last cry, he yields up his spirit to his Father, bows his head, breathes his last, and dies —in total submission he has committed himself body and spirit to God. Such surrender! Is it too much for him to ask that we surrender ourselves wholly to him?