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Reading Classics Together - The Seven Sayings (Chapter 7)
June 19, 2008
We have come to the final chapter of the The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, the third classic we’ve read together here. It has gone very quickly! If you have not been reading along with us it is obviously too late to start now, but stayed tuned for the next book we’ll read together (I will announce it here in a couple of weeks).
The seventh chapter looks at the final words Jesus spoke while on the cross. Having spoken words of forgiveness, salvation, affection, anguish, suffering and victory, he cries forth one final time, this time with words of contentment. Luke 23:46 describes this. “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.”
The chapter follows this outline:
- Here we see the Saviour back again in communion with the Father.
- Here we see a designed contrast.
- Here we see Christ’s perfect yieldedness to God.
- Here we see the absolute uniqueness of the Saviour.
- Here we see the place of eternal security.
- Here we see the blessedness of communion with God.
- Here we see the heart’s true haven.
As usual, I’d like to focus on just a couple of the points in this chapter that stood out to me. As with many of these sayings on the cross, I’ve spent a good deal of time in the past thinking and writing about this one. I’ve thought deeply about what it means that Jesus commended His spirit to the Father and what it means that He “dismissed His spirit” as another of the gospel writers terms it. But I learned more in reading this chapter. I enjoyed Pink’s section detailing how this saying points to the uniqueness of Jesus. Jesus’ life was not in the end taken from Him; instead, Jesus laid it down. Jesus had the power to lay down His life and, as we saw three days later, He had the power to take it again. Pink did a great job of tying together the different expressions of this in the gospels, showing how this was a word of power, of authority and of contentment. Jesus willingly gave His life for the Father’s glory and in the end, it was Jesus who surrendered His spirit when His work was done.
And how could the Christian’s heart not be uplifted by section showing how these words show the blessedness of communion with God. Here was Christ, on the cross, in utter agony, in the worst physical trial imaginable, and yet He still enjoyed communion with the Father.
This is one of the sweetest truths brought out by our text. It is our privilege to enjoy communion with God at all times, irrespective of outward circumstances or conditions. Communion with God is by faith, and faith is not affected by the things of sight. No matter how unpleasant your outward lot may be, my reader, it is your unspeakable privilege to enjoy communion with God. Just as the three Hebrews enjoyed fellowship with the Lord in the midst of the fiery furnace, as Daniel did in the lion’s den, as Paul and Silas did in the Philippian jail, as the Saviour did on the cross, so may you wherever you are! Christ’s head rested on a crown of thorns, but beneath were the Father’s hands!
And what a beautiful truth this is. Even (or perhaps especially) in life’s greatest trials, in its most terrifying and terrible moments, we can be assured of our fellowship with the Creator. Nothing can separate us from that sweet communion.
And finally, I’ll make brief mention of the final section which discusses the heart’s true haven. I don’t think I could do better than to quote Pink’s words:
These words then may be taken to express the believer’s care for his soul, that it may be safe, what ever becomes of the body. God’s saint who has come nigh to death exercises few thoughts about his body, where it shall be laid, or how it shall be disposed of; he trusts that into the hands of his friends. But as his care all along has been his soul, so he thinks of it now, and with his last breath commits it to the custody of God. It is not, “Lord Jesus receive my body, take care of my dust;” but “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” - Lord, secure the jewel when the casket is broken.
The spirit is the treasure. May we all follow the Saviour’s example and commend our souls to the care of the Father.
There is no next time, at least with this book. In the next week or two I’ll announce the next book we will read together. As always, you can feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions for future reading. I think we’ll probably go back in time and try to read an older classic for our next round. I’d really like to find a manageable portion of Edwards or Calvin that we could do—but obviously many of their works are just too long for this format.
I am eager to know what you gained from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you can only say anything if you are going to say something that will wow us all. Just add a comment with some of the things you gained from the this week’s reading. Also feel free to share your reflections about the book as a whole.