Our campus in Porumbacu, Romania, was the host of the International Youth Convention attended by about 200 youth from Romania and abroad. The lectures were delivered by our special guest, brother David Zic, the Secretary of the Youth Department of the General Conference. The topic was “At the Foot of the Cross” comprising the 7 messages spoken by our Saviour during His agony on the cross of Golgotha:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”
“This day Thou be with me in paradise”
“Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!”
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“I thirst”
“It is finished”
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”

Based on this prayer spoken by Jesus on the cross and understanding that we are called to act as He did, this lecture was about forgiveness. We need forgiveness both in our relationship with God and in that with our fellowmen. Moreover, in order to be forgiven, we need to be willing to forgive.
It was pointed out that God is always willing to forgive anyone who longs for forgiveness. In addition, contrary to human practice, God offers His forgiveness unconditionally; as, in order to receive His forgiveness, we are asked to do nothing to deserve it. (For there is no good work that we can do in order to redeem our evil deeds).
Understanding this, we should ask ourselves this serious question: Why do we feel we have the right to expect others to humble themselves towards us in order for us to forgive their offence against us?
We are called to be like our Father. Let us thank Him for His forgiveness He is willing to offer us every time we feel sorry for our attitude; and let us be ready to forgive our fellowmen practicing the heavenly method.

“To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”

Christians often use this controversial phrase as the singular argument in favour of the belief in the immortality of human soul.
There are sufficient Biblical proofs that show that the breath of life that made the body molded out of dust to become a “living soul” will return to God who gave it, in the moment man ceases to live. (Ecl 12:7). The word of God does not contradict itself, so we can understand this phrase in at least one of the ways:
– Either we admit, as some linguists suggest, that the punctuation is not accurate (It is known that no punctuation was used during the time the Scriptures were written); then it will read, “Verily I say unto thee to day, thou shalt be with me in paradise”
– Or, the fate of the malefactor was about to be decided in that moment, so the next moment meant to him “paradise”. Both for the malefactor, and for anyone who dies, the death sleep will be a short, unperceived period of time after which they will be risen to receive their reward.
Both options are valid, as there is sufficient Biblical evidence for them.
The important fact is that God never says “too late” to a person who repents as long as Jesus Christ intercedes in their favour.

“Woman, behold thy son!”

These words come out of the heart of a grateful Son; considering the conditions in which they were spoken, we can understand that they reflect the deep appreciation every child should have for their parents that have cared for them their entire life.
There are no limits for a child’s respect and obedience. Moreover, God intended children to take care of their aged parents as they cared for them in their early years.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Was there any time in Jesus Christ’s life when He felt alone, separated from His Father? Was it possible for the Father to depart from His Son?
Jesus Christ identified Himself with the sinful man. He took upon Himself the sin of humanity, sin that is abhorrent to God. Now, the One who has always been in the presence of His heavenly Father (“…I am not alone, because the Father is with me” – John 16:32) finds Himself abandoned.
He had no contribution to the sin of man, He just took it upon Himself with a definite purpose – “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5).
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
To be alone, to be left by those that you are close to is a terrible thing. Still, He willingly consented to experience this in order to help us. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18).

“I thirst”

Asking for something to quench His thirst, Christ shows that He was suffering as a common man. Still He made this demand only to fulfill the Scriptures: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (John 19:28). From the prophesy, He knew what would happen: “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalms 69:21).
Our Lord Jesus refused to benumb His consciousness in any way, so, in order to bring a perfect sacrifice, he refused to quench His thirst by something that would affect His judgment.
We are also called to abstain from everything that harms our organism. God’s people should reform their lives in every respect: nutrition, dress, work, rest, exercise, study, keeping the resting day, family relationship, etc.
“When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 312.

“It is finished”

These words “It is finished” spoken by our Lord Jesus while on the cross of Golgotha are extremely important to the human kind and to the whole Universe. The end announced in those moments is in fact the fulfillment of a prophecy, the end of a process that had lasted up to then. It’s not about defence, but about victory.
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24).
Christ died in a time that was well determined and made known by the divine wisdom long before. It was known that in the midst of the week he would give His life to redeem men; this would mark the end of the sacrifice system.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” (Daniel 9:27).
Jesus’s sacrifice has more than a historical value for us; it offers us rehabilitation and salvation.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:1-3).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). The process of salvation comprises: confession, forgiveness (justification) and cleansing (sanctification).

“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”

Christ ended His life on this earth surrendering His everything into the hands of His Father.
We need to identify ourselves with His sacrifice. We are called to submit our life, our future into the hands of the One who created and redeemed us. We can say as apostle Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6).
It is high time we gave up sin and accepted His righteousness. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)