Jesus hung on the cross naked, beaten and bruised. A crown of thorns pressed into His head. Above Him was a sign in Greek, Aramaic and Latin which read "The King of the Jews." Two crosses stood next to Him. On them were two robbers. While Jesus was hanging, people watched. They shook their heads and mocked Him. Leaders of the people even sneered: "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He be Christ the Son of God."
Jesus prayed: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Soldiers took His clothes. The clothes were too nice to tear up and share, so they cast lots to see who would get them. The robbers mocked Jesus too. One said, "If thou be Christ, save Thyself and us." The other robber scolded him, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing amiss." He then turned to Jesus: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."
Jesus said to him: "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
Not all spectators cursed Jesus. Jesus' mother, His mother's sisters, Mary, wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene, were near the cross with John, Jesus' disciple. Jesus thought of His mother.
He said to His mother: "Woman, behold thy son [John]." Jesus said to John: "Behold thy mother."
John took care of Jesus' mother from that time onwards.
A strange event occurred at noon. The sky became dark. It lasted three hours. Jesus spoke four more times. At this time He suffered great agony. God's wrath toward sinners pressed upon Him heavily. He suffered the pains of hell--God had left Him.
To His Father He cried: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach-tani! [My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me...!]
Those who watched and heard thought Jesus was crying for Elijah.
Jesus cried again: "I thirst."
A man brought a sponge soaked with vinegar to Jesus on a hyssop branch. He said, "Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down." When Jesus drank the vinegar, He spoke loudly: "It is finished!"
He cried out once more: "Father, into Thy hands I command my spirit!"
He breathed His last. Then an earthquake suddenly shook the ground. There was a loud tear in the temple as the curtain to the holy of holies was torn in two. The centurion standing nearby exclaimed as the earth shook under his feet" "Truly, this man was the Son of God!"
What this centurion said was the "Amen" to the sermon he watched and heard. Jesus had been his preacher. Jesus had neither a suit nor a pulpit to stand behind. His pulpit was behind Him, and He was nailed to it.
It was the greatest sermon ever preached because there Christ gave His life for sinners. Even in the greatest agony, He forgave> He endured the hellish pain until it was finished.
Your church has a pulpit and preachers to preach behind it because Christ preached this sermon many years ago. A true preacher preaches Christ and Him crucified, so that we might believe and confess: "Truly, this Man was the Son of God!"