Sunday, 13 October 2013


Wrote this article for the Let The Bible Speak magazine a few years ago


If seven is the perfect number in Scripture, then it is not surprising that seven cries are recorded as having fallen from the lips of the Lord Jesus while He suffered on the Cross. Perhaps there were more, as many Old Testament laments are certainly fitting for the occasion, not least  the words of Jeremiah, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." However, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to record only seven and we are to rest content with what has been revealed.

These Seven Cries were all spoken when the Lord Jesus was in full control of all His faculties. Although He had been traumatised, brutalised, severely beaten, lashed with a Roman whip and was now dying that most painful of deaths i.e. crucifixion, our Lord never lost control of His thoughts. None of His words may be considered to be the dying ramblings of a broken man, able to be put into some kind of context that allows us to ignore them.  These are the words of the mighty Conqueror of Calvary. They are all rational words and none are inconsistent with the claims which He made earlier in His life or which were made for Him by the Apostles who followed.

These Seven Cries give us an insight into His tremendous love for sinners. They come to us in the context of the Cross where God commended, or showed, His love towards us. Christ's first cry, spoken as they were spiking His hands to the tree, is full of love. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34) There was no cursing of His cruel tormentors. There were no threats of vengeance. Those twelve legions of angels doubtless looked on in absolute wonder as the Divine lips moved, and pleaded for the salvation of His murderers. This prayer was abundantly answered. The dying thief who cursed him and the Roman Centurion who oversaw the whole execution appear to have been its immediate first fruits. Later, at Pentecost, many of those whose wicked Jewish hands which had crucified and slew him, would cry out in repentance and faith. Ultimately, since it was our sins which nailed Him to the tree, every Christian is saved in answer to this interceding cry of Christ. It cannot but see complete fulfilment. 

These Seven Cries show us something of His great sufferings for us. The fifth and shortest of His cries "I thirst" (John 19:28) remind us of the burning sun that poured forth its merciless rays upon Him as He hung upon the tree. The offering of vinegar upon a spunge after this cry was calculated more to prolong His sufferings, rather than relief them. However, beyond the physical impact of His sufferings, these words "I thirst" remind us of His soul sufferings. The desire of the rich man in hell for a drop of water to cool his tongue meets its match here in Christ's sufferings. He really did take our hell's punishment for us, stroke for stroke, when He died.  This was not a hypothetical atonement for hypothetical believers, but an actual laying upon the Lord Jesus, the sins of us all. This is seen again in the fourth cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) Here the Father forsook Him, when all the sins of His elect, were actually laid upon the soul of His appointed Ransom. The sun hid its face at this cry and we will never be able to adequately explain its depths. The hymn writer perhaps summed it up when he wrote:

None of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed,
Or how dark was the night, the Lord passed through, 'ere he found the sheep which was lost.

The resurgence of false teachers, now sadly within the professing Evangelical Church, who shamelessly deny the blood atonement of Jesus Christ should restudy these cries again. To walk away from the Cross and deny that God made Christ's soul as an offering for sin, beggars belief in the light of this middle cry.

These Seven Cries reveal to us the great victory of Christ. The second cry, in a unique conversation between two crucified victims, must amaze the carnal mind reading these accounts. That one should say to the Other, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom" is an amazing show of faith. Thy Kingdom? A Man, rejected by His own nation, betrayed, forsaken and denied by His own followers, hanging naked on a Roman gibbet in the blazing sun possessing a Kingdom? Truly flesh and blood had not revealed this truth nor inspired this hopeful request. The gracious reply is no less startling. Full of victory, the Saviour replies, "Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:42-43)  The sixth cry is no less fervent in this great truth of victory. "It is finished" (John 19:30) - not whimpered nor whispered, but spoken in a loud voice that all might hear. No sacrificing priest could ever say that! He stood everyday, offering oftentimes the same sacrifice which can never take away sins. "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God." Every last jot and tittle of the sin hating law had expended itself upon the soul of the Son of God. Every last prophecy had been fulfilled. Full and complete atonement had been made, and the seventh and last cry proves it: "Father, into thy hands, I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46) The Father, having forsook Him when the work of redemption was being purchased, had now returned and received His Son again. These are cries of complete victory. You can venture the destiny of your never dying soul upon these things. Nothing can be added to a finished work. The Captain of our Salvation was made perfect through sufferings and these cries of victory reveal Him as a perfect Saviour.

These Seven Cries also reveal to us the tender pastoral heart of the Lord Jesus. This truth should not be lost amidst the more doctrinal aspects of the Cross. Only those who stand in need of such pastoral support will perhaps appreciate this most. We may be hale and hearty now and in the full bloom of our days, but it will not be always so.  See the tender concern which Christ showed towards His widowed mother who had courageously come to watch her Son die. The prophesied sword was now piercing her own soul also, although not in any atoning fashion. Fulfilling the law that demands that we honour our parents, His third cry was directed to first to Mary and then to John, "Woman, behold thy son!" and "Son, behold thy mother!"  (John 19:26-27) Every relief of our needs and sufferings flows from His great sacrifice upon the Cross.

Study these great sayings for yourself. You will find them to be meat and drink for your soul.


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