It is natural that we should observe closely the words of the dying.  When men are leaving the world, and are aware of it, their words take on an added weight: for earth is vanishing; thoughts are finally disentangled from worldly things; whatever sincerity is in the man will be most sincere then: we listen to a soul almost in the other world.  Lord William Russell, on the scaffold, took his watch from his pocket, and gave it to Dr. Burnett with the remark,- “I have no further use for this.  My thoughts are in eternity  The seven savings on the Cross - seven is the number of revelation: none of the Evangelists report all; each reports some - are an epitome of the heart of the dying Christ.  They are strikingly grouped.  Three are before the Darkness - handling His enemies in grace, re-assuring the dying thief, comforting His mother: then comes [4] the lonely cry in the midnight of His soul: lastly, three after the Darkness, concerning Himself alone - His thirst, His finished work, His commended Spirit.*  On a cross there is not much time for speaking: seven short, sharp, pregnant utterances lay bare the heart of the dying Christ.


[* Or ‘spirit,’ referring to His animating spirit which all who are alive have.  (See, Luke 8: 55. cf. Acts 7: 59; Job. 34: 14; James 2: 26, etc.). – Ed.]






It would appear that while the nails were being driven in, our Lord first spoke; for Luke (23: 34) says,- “And when they crucified Him, Jesus said, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do Several Latin writers say that the frenzied victims, in the moment of the affixing on the cross, would shriek and curse and spit at the executioners.  Startling as ever is the fact, and old as the history of Christ, that this Man, as in life so in death, never says, Father forgive Me.  In the moment of the fresh, quivering agony, the Lord uttered what has been the martyrs’ model prayer for two millenniums: in the moment when a word from Him could have annihilated three thousand - as actually happened from Sinai - or when He might at least have left them to accomplish their doom, He begins the saving of two thousand years and He begins it on the Cross. “Father, forgive them”: and what was the Father’s reply?  The dying thief; then the Roman Guard (Matt. 27: 54); then, within a few days, eight thousand of His enemies, then forty years’ respite for the whole of Israel: “I KNOW THAT THOU HEAREST ME ALWAYS






As the first saying prays for others’ pardon, so the second grants it:-  “This day,” He says to the dying thief, “shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43).  Every one of the seven sayings is the death-blow of an error.  [Physical] Death is no sleep of the soul; nor is it an ascent into Heaven, for our Lord said later to Mary, after He had been with the Thief in Paradise,- “I have not yet ascended unto My Father” (John 20: 17).  A clause in the Creed now increasingly abandoned - the descent [of the disembodied soul*] into Hades - is here affirmed by our Saviour; for He passed through every human experience (Eph. 4: 9); and so descended with the Thief into the underworld of the dead.  How lovingly He answers, not the mouth of the Thief, but his heart! “This day” - not two thousand years hence, as he unconsciously asks: this very day, before evening deepens into night, he shall be, not in [‘the lake of fire’ – the eternal place for the unsaved - or] the fiery judgment dawn, and the awful tumult of [the Great Tribulation, prior to] the Advent, but “with Christ”* in God’s Garden of the Soul.  Heaven and Hell [Gk. ‘Hades’] are made by our companions; and to be with Christ will be – [before the time of Resurrection, like] Heaven: Jesus was winning Paradise back, and so is able already to grant Paradise.


[* That is, ‘with Christ’ in the underworld of Hades until the time of Resurrection, (Psalm 139: 8b.  cf. Rev. 6: 9-11; Matthew 12: 40; 16: 18; John 3: 13; 13: 36, 14: 3, etc. ). – Ed.]






The third saying addresses the little loved group standing, overwhelmed, around the Cross, and strikes the tenderest human note of all:-  “When Jesus saw His mother” - with a sword, as foretold, through her heart – “He saith, Woman, behold Thy son!” (John 19: 26).  Whom should a dying son think of but his mother? and as all her sons were still in the camp of the Enemy, He had no choice but to find her a new son and a new home; and He holds death at bay until He has made provision for His mother.  Here is the death-blow of another error.  If, as Rome teaches, Mary is Mother of God and all-powerful in Heaven, the Saviour must have commended John to her, not her to John: John was to be Christ’s representative to Mary, not Mary Christ’s representative to John.  It was His last will and testament.  Stript [stripped] of everything, even of His clothes, the Lord of human hearts nevertheless bequeaths earth’s most precious legacy - a loyal and a loving heart.






We now arrive at a sudden break - a sharp change - as a loud cry, revealing still un-exhausted energies, peals through the darkness.  For as the darkness descended, the Offering was bared before God; and in the exact moment at which the Paschal Lamb was slain for the sin it bore, the Wrath fell, and there went up the awful, desolate cry,-  “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me It was Jesus taking the place of the lost soul.  An astronomer says of an eclipse in Norway:-  “I watched the instantaneous extinction of light, and saw the glorious scene on which I had been gazing turned into darkness.  All the horizon seemed to speak of terror, death, and judgment; and overhead sat, not the clear flood of light which a starry night sends down, but there hung over me dark and leaden blackness, which seemed as if it would crush me into the earth.  And as I beheld it I thought, How miserable is the soul to whom Christ is eclipsed!  The thought was answered by a voice; for a fierce and powerful sea-bird, which had been sweeping around us, apparently infuriated at our intrusion on its domain, poured out a scream of despairing agony in the darkness It is the picture of an eclipsed God, and a lost soul: it is the Hour and Power of Darkness: the Hosts of Hell filled it, and the opaque sins of a world thickened it: it is Jesus bearing my sin in His own body upon the Tree.






When the darkness had gone, with the relaxing tension of a sacrifice finally offered the Lord yielded to the only physical cry of all:-  “Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, saith, I thirst” (John 19: 28).  “I am forsaken” was the agony of a tormented spirit: “I thirst” is the anguish of a tortured body.  It is said that no death exceeds in distress the death by thirst: this cry is the cry of the battlefield, in which all other agony is swallowed up.  Again we behold the deathblow of an error.  Angels do not thirst; a phantom, an apparition, does not thirst; God does not thirst: it is “the man* Christ Jesus,” in whom all our physical agony met, as He “tasted death for every man  He thirsted, that we might never cry - “I am tormented in this flame


[* That is, the God-man Christ Jesus -  the promised Messiah who is yet to come and save all Israel, (Rom. 11: 25-27); and establish His Millennial Kingdom upon this earth, (Rom. 8: 18-25.) – Ed.]






The sixth cry is the triumphant shout of the victorious Christ.  “When Jesus had received the vinegar”* - possibly as a final stimulant for dying utterance – “He said, It is finished” (John 19: 30).  It is the one cry in all literature which summarizes the work of Calvary for ever.  From the heart in which all mysteries and longings and needs of the human soul met; from the mind which, alone of humanity, understood the complex problem of redemption; from the Incarnate Godhead which had come down to bear an entire world’s sin:- from Him there breaks not only the triumphant shout, but the judicial summary, that the whole redemption of mankind is finished, and the world’s debt paid.  The Resurrection [of Christ/Messiah], though also vital to redemption, only set the Divine seal on an Atonement perfectly accomplished on the Cross.






The seventh utterance is our Lord’s farewell to earth.  “When Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, He gave up the ghost  (Luke 23: 46).  Jesus died in the light.  The “My God” has disappeared, and the “Father” has come back: no trace of anxiety or struggle remains: it is the sigh of a perfect repose.  Here is the deathblow of another error. Jesus, says Christian Science, was alive in the tomb, while the disciples thought Him dead: on the contrary, “dismissing” His spirit as the High Priest sacrificing the Lamb, the Lord, dying exactly as a man dies.  “He gave up the ghost Whatever He intended to do had been done; whatever the sacrifice had been offered for, that had been accomplished: the Son restores His Spirit to the Father, because for whatever purpose God had become incarnate, that purpose Incarnate Godhead had accomplished for ever.


A company of England’s greatest men were once gathered discussing Calvary.  Many beautiful and ingenious theories were advanced; but the best fell from the lips of one whose goodness exceeded his greatness, and who was great because of his goodness.  In a reverent silence he rose, and said:-  “Gentlemen, the manner of Christ’s redemption is a wonderful thing.  In my humble opinion, Jesus Christ was the Great Master Chemist and Artist of all time Then, picking up a Bible, he said, “We have heard many strange theories to-night; but this Book tells me that the Great Master Chemist and Artist used A BRIGHT RED to produce A PURE WHITE on A DEAD BLACK Then, amidst a quietness which was as the hush of God, he read once again the story of the Crucified; and men went out feeling that they had been brought face to face with the great reality, and rejoicing in the gift of God’s Incarnate Son.