Sermon delivered April 7, 2001 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Jesus' Last Hours

Matthew 27:45-54
I think it was William Sidney Porter whose last words were: "Turn up the lights! I don't want to die in the dark." Usually a person's last words are supposed to be the most famous words that that person ever speaks in their entire life. And so, we would like to look a little bit at Jesus' last words. As you look in the New Testament the very first time that Jesus spoke was when He was on the cross. He was hanging there. Jesus was placed on the cross about nine in the morning. For the next three hours He spoke three times.

The first time, in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Now, this was Jesus' pardon.

Then in Luke 23:43 He said, "I say unto you today, you will be with me in paradise." This was Jesus' Promise. (By the way, the thief didn't go to paradise that day. He got his legs broken so he could not escape. And even Jesus said on Sunday that he had not yet ascended to His Father.)

The next time is in John 19:26. "Dear woman, here is your son." spoken of John. Jesus provided.

The fourth time is very interesting. This one we want to focus on. At high noon Jesus made a fourth statement. Right after it suddenly got dark and Jesus said: "My God, Why have you forsaken me?" And this was Jesus' pain.

This is found in Matthew 27:45. We're going to be looking in this chapter for a while. Beginning at Matthew 27:45, From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. Now, this sounds like the great Dark Day doesn't it? It was a tremendous darkness. This was on Good Friday, about 2000 years ago from noon until three in the afternoon there was great deep-felt darkness. It was as if a toner factory exploded, and a dense cloud of toner just settled over the entire world, enveloping everything in a dark pitch-black cloud. This veil of darkness covered the entire land. It vanquished the sun.

Dramatic changes started to occur in nature. All sort of things were happening as the Creator was dying to rescue the created. Now, I have a question: Was the total darkness natural or supernatural? Some agnostics have claimed it was a solar eclipse, an eclipse of the sun. That's all it was. This was nothing supernatural. This shouldn't be in the Bible. Well, was it a solar eclipse? It couldn't have been. If it had been a solar eclipse it wouldn't be supernatural, and this would jeopardize the whole record.

But a solar eclipse is impossible. Why? Because the Passover is always at a full moon. When did they always hold the Passover? They always held Passover at the full moon. You can't have a solar eclipse when there is a full moon. When the moon is full where is the sun? The sun is opposite of the moon. That is why it is a full moon. It would be physically impossible to have a solar eclipse at a full moon. Only a lunar eclipse could happen at Passover. During a solar eclipse both the Sun and Moon are together in the sky. Therefore this darkness had to be supernatural.

Another reason this was not a solar Eclipse was in how long it lasted. How long was the darkness? Matthew 27:45 says it was "from the sixth hour until the ninth hour." It would have been impossible to have a natural solar eclipse because they do not last 3 hours. A solar eclipse lasts just a few minutes. Therefore, this was a genuine Divine miracle. So, we know the Bible is accurate here.

What was actually happening was that all creation was writhing and responding to the creator's pain. What a verification that Jesus was the true Messiah! Darkness is so routine that its true significance completely bypassed that crowd of spiritual zombies. They were half asleep. They just didn't know what was going on.

Why did that darkness come? Why did God want it to be dark? One reason is to bring about modesty. Three men were hanging on three crosses. They were elevated and on exhibition as an example of the consequences of crime. No clothing covered their bodies. None. So God clothed them in robes of darkness. And they were in darkness most of the time.

Some time toward the end of this three-hour period of desolation Jesus made a strange statement. Matthew 27:46. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Notice that Jesus still calls His Father "My God." He still had faith in His Heavenly Father. He never gave up. But He was feeling lonesome. He was alone. And this was significant for Jesus because Jesus had always been with His Father. I could always depend on His Father.

The Sacred record says He cried out in a loud voice. My limited knowledge of crucifixions makes me think that tenderhearted Jesus must have been in super pain to yell this way. This was a major outburst from Jesus. He was in major pain. But the pain was not just physical, He was hurting in His heart.

What did the crowd hear? When this crowd heard Jesus crying out, they thought He was crying out for Elijah even thought His words were very clear. They didn't want to hear what Jesus said. "Eloi" means "My God." They heard what they wanted to hear. Sin makes you deaf to the word of God.

This question of Christ was a quotation from Psalm 22:1 (KJV). My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The exact same words. Here was Jesus hanging on a cross quoting Scripture. We don't normally think of people doing that on their death bed. But that's exactly what Jesus did.

Psalm 22:15-19 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Jesus felt lost. He felt dejected. He felt alone. The presence of the Father was not there. His whole life had been immersed in the presence of His Father. But now He was alone.

Prior to this day Jesus could say (John 16:32) to his disciples,..."You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." He could always depend on His Father. In John 8:29 we read, "The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone."

And, now Jesus was "left behind," left in the dark. Have you heard of this movie, "Left Behind?" This whole series of books that are selling out there? Jesus was left behind, left in the dark. Could this darkness be the shadow of God's back? Maybe the back side of God? I believe that God turned his back on His son, Jesus. We might think that is pretty awful. God closed his eyes to Jesus' quagmire. He chose to look the other direction. When Jesus cried out God knowingly shut His ears. God refused to order the legions of mighty angels, who were standing by, to come in a heart-beat to rescue Jesus. The Father turned his back on His Son.

Imagine an earthly parent doing that. Imagine that if you have a little child and some hoodlum, some rapist, is going to come and he's going to abuse your child, he's going to hurt your little one, imagine that same parent refusing to help that child, plugging his ears: "I don't even want to hear him crying for help. I just want to turn the other way. I don't want to look at it." When you could help, you could rescue him, he's right there and you just turn your back on your son. Can you imagine that? That is what God did. And the strange thing was that this was all pre-planned. God intentionally deserted His Son. The two of them had agreed that this should happen. Back before sin had even happened, probably. They agreed on that. They had agreed from the beginning. Jesus was shut out from the Father's presence that we might be included in the Father's presence. That's precious to me.

I think another reason that God abandoned His Son, and He did abandon Him at that point, was to avoid killing Him. Now, you think about this. An anomaly happened at this point, something that never happened in the history of the world and something that will never again happen in the history of the world. That was that all for the sins from Adam to the last baby ever born were at that point at about 12-noon they were heaped on Jesus, they were piled on Him, loaded. He was encased in sin. I will tell you that if God the Father, who is so holy, had been close to Jesus, Who was so wicked at that time, Jesus might have been evaporated. Think about that. At that moment all the numerous sins of the world were heaped upon Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, Galatians 3:13 says Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It says in Isaiah 53:6 prophesied The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. John the Baptist said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). The entire load of world sin was placed on Jesus Christ at that moment. God had to take Himself away from that place to protect His Son from destruction. The sinless One now bore every sin. I believe Jesus could have been consumed by the holiness of the Father. And so, that darkness was a blessing. When God turned his back, it got dark.

During this three-hour period Jesus was enshrouded with the entire load of World Sin from Adam the first born clear down to the last born. The sinless One now bore the totality of every sin ever committed in the past or future.

Had God not moved away, perhaps Jesus would have been consumed by the Holiness of the Father's presence. God abandoned Jesus that He might not destroy Jesus. When God left it got dark.

That darkness was a mighty blessing for us. Sometimes the dark parts of our lives later become the source of some of the greatest blessings we could ever experience. Because Jesus was abandoned that day, we shall never be abandoned this day.

You know, sin and holiness can't exist together. When our sinless Jesus comes the second time, what is it that destroys the wicked? The wicked are destroyed by the brightness of Jesus' coming. When our sinless Jesus comes the second time the wicked will be destroyed by the approach of absolute holiness. Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (KJV). And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: When Jesus comes and all those angels come, the devil and all his followers will be consumed by the brightness of Jesus' second coming. That could have happened to Jesus on the cross.

Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong. God turned His back on His Son. He put a vail there between Him and His Son. He is too pure to look on sin. If God is like that, how can He look at Don Gettys? How does He look at you? Well, the fact is, He doesn't. When He looks at you, He sees Jesus Christ. When he looks at you, He see's that you are covered with the perfect robe of Jesus' righteousness. That's what saves us. We're sicked and vile. But Jesus is pure and holy, and He sees Jesus when He looks at us. Jesus' pure perfect righteousness covers our imperfect life.

The fifth thing that Jesus said is in John 19:28. Jesus said, "I am thirsty." Now, this is Jesus' privation. About 3 P.M. the sun came back out in its intensity. That sun beat down on the exposed body our Savior. Now the last time Jesus had anything to drink was at the Lord's Supper table. And that was just a little bit of grape juice. Jesus became extremely thirsty. Here, the Fountain of Life needed water. The fact that he needed this liquid is testimony His craving of water shows His humanity. Our Savior was fully God and fully human. Jesus' suffering on the cross was real. His body was drying out rapidly. The Creator of the sun and stars was dehydrating out there in the sunshine of His own making.

Matthew 27:48 (NIV) Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, Wine that has completed its fermentation to vinegar.) put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

Did Jesus drink that vinegar? No, He didn't. In fact, at that moment Jesus was fulfilling that great prophecy found in Psalm 69:21. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. It was possibly an alcoholic cider vinegar. Did Jesus drink the stupefying potion? No, He did not. We are told in Matthew 27:34 that ... they offered Him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. Jesus wanted to be fully conscious. He didn't want anything to impair the free working of His mind.

You know, as Christians today we should not take anything into our minds that would ever impair or impede the free working of the Holy Spirit because the only thing the Holy Spirit can communicate to us through is our mind. I don't want to take anything, especially, if I'm dying on the cross, to impede my thought processes.

The Water of Life thirsted that day that we may never thirst. Jesus suffered the second death that we might not die. The suffering of Jesus contributed to our salvation. Jesus understands our sufferings because as our high priest, has suffered like things (Hebrews 4:15).

Do you thirst for the One Who thirsted that you might not thirst again? Or are you drinking at other fountains? Friends, Jesus is the Fountain of Life. Only Jesus can mitigate your thirst.

The last word that Jesus said on the cross is an utterance of victory. In John 19:30 He said, ..."It is finished." With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. This is Jesus' power. Matthew 27:50. And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. Jesus had finished the work that had been committed to Him. He had supplied our salvation. His job was done. His job description was completed.

In then in Matthew 27:51, At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This gigantic curtain, fifty, sixty, eighty feet tall, and maybe a couple feet thick, this huge curtain torn in half from the top to the bottom by unseen hands. and then it says, The earth shook and the rocks split.

When the Rock of Ages died on the cross, the rocks were rent. A powerful earthquake followed the darkness. The world itself convulsed in agitation. All nature reacted to the death of the Creator. It seems that the only ones who don't know what is going on are sinful human beings. The hang their personal Creator on a tree He caused to grow.

Several years ago some naughty boys saw an old man hobbling along the sidewalk. They nicknamed him "Old Rattle Bones" because he was thin and his bones were hanging out and he walked with a limp and he was hunched and bent over. "Here comes 'Old Rattle Bones.'" Freddie was the worst. He seemed to lead out in the antagonistic belittling of the poor old man. One day, the old man came to Freddie's house and knocked on the door. Because his friends were with him, Freddie said, "Mr. Rattle Bones, you can knock on my door all you want. You can talk with my mother, and I don't care." Well, his mother did answer the door and invited the old man in. "Freddie, I want you to come in, too." So he came in and sat down.

Turning to Freddie, the man said, "Years ago, when you were a baby, your baby sitter took you out in your stroller beside the river. When she let go of the handle for a moment, it suddenly started to roll down the hill toward the river. She ran but she could catch up with it, and you were plunged into the water below. I jumped into the river and after a difficult struggle brought you safely to shore, but I left before anyone could ask my name.

"The water that day was frigid, and it aggravated my rheumatic condition. Now, 10 years later, I can scarcely hobble along. But, Freddie, I did that for you."

Freddie hung his head and began to cry. "I'm sorry. Thank you sir for saving me. Please forgive me for calling you 'Old Rattle Bones.' Sir, I didn't know who you were!"

You know, it's the same with Jesus. Do you know Jesus? Do YOU know Jesus? He died on the old rugged cross to save you. Someday, death is going to come and close the back cover to your book of life, the record of your life. Death will close that. We don't know when that will happen, but when that happens, your chance is over. But today you are alive. And today I appeal to you to give your heart to Jesus Christ before it's too late. We are the real sinners. Jesus was innocent. Innocent Jesus took our place on the old rugged cross. Jesus died the death that we should die that we might have the eternal life that He deserves. If you yourself surrender everything to Jesus, that eternal life is yours today.

My name is "Freddie." Your name is "Freddie." And God is coming soon. He's coming for you. Will you give your heart to Him today? Will you accept Him. If you, yourself, surrender your heart to Him today He will accept you and you will be in His kingdom.

Hymn of Praise: #280, Come, Ye Sinners
Scripture: Matthew 27:45-54
Hymn of Response: #159, The Old Rugged Cross

010407Don Gettys#496

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