May Carroll - The Last Words of Jesus - 1949

The subject that was on my heart and which I will speak a little about this afternoon is one that I feel very unworthy of; but it seems to be the only thing that is on my heart for the meeting this afternoon. It is the last words of Jesus as He hung upon the middle cross between two thieves. He would never have hung there if it had not been for you and I - and the burden and load of our sin was laid upon Him.

 

For this experience, He was fortified by what took place a little while before in the garden. He was there with three of those who seemed to have more of an understanding heart than the others. He had come to that garden more than once to commune with His Father and to get the strength that He needed to carry out His Father's will. But on this particular occasion that He visited that garden, He poured out His soul in agony to His Father - the One whom He could look to for help in the hours of great need. Others, human, had failed Him. They were sleeping when they should have been awake. When they might have understood Him and come into that hour of agony with Him, they were found asleep; but Jesus opened His heart to His Father in these words, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

 

Now there is, in every Christian life, a Gethsemane sooner or later. There is a cup to be drunk.

 

I, too, have asked again and again for a way out when brought to some decision that was going to be hard and difficult. Something that would be death to my own flesh, my nature, the hopes and ambitions that are lawful to every human life; but it wasn't the will of God for me. I don't know how often you have passed through dark and trying hours - hours when you felt as if you were alone and you were up against problems that you had no strength to face. Alone and in the hour of need asking for a way out, but God enabled you to say, "Thy will be done." All the keenest suffering that has gone into your heart and mine is not from doing the will of God, but from not doing it, from trying to get around it.

 

The happiest moments of our lives have been when peace came to our hearts as a result of surrendering and saying, "Thy will be done." Peter lost the victory in the garden, but Jesus was fortified as He made that journey up to Calvary. Much took place on the road there. When He looked upon the daughters of Jerusalem weeping because of what He was going through, He said, "Weep not for Me but for yourselves." They had made a false choice. Sometime before, they had chosen Barabbas instead of Christ. He had robbed them and brought to them distress, and Jesus knew this as He looked upon them. He was not thinking of His own suffering, but of what had come upon them. As we look upon this distressed world today, we know that it is largely the result of the decision that was made when they cried, "Release unto us Barabbas and let Him be crucified." All the suffering and anguish that has come upon His own people, it seems to me, has come upon them as the result of that fatal decision in the judgment hall. Pilate tried to wash his hands, but it wasn't so easy. It never is, and when He was led to Calvary over Him was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew these Words, "The King of the Jews." Those three languages bring the whole world guilty before God of the rejection of the Son of God. All the suffering that has come upon the world and into your life and mine has come as a result of rejecting what was God's best for our lives.


He hung upon the middle cross and the first words that He uttered are words that have come from the lips of many in this tent when we first knew what it was to submit to God. It is that word, "Father." As a child, we had a book given to us in which were many prayers written, and one of them began with "Almighty God." My impression of God as a child was far from being that of a loving, understanding Father. I was afraid of God. I had an idea that He was almighty and I always thought He was waiting to punish me for every action my conscience told me was wrong. My old grandfather once spoke to me about something he knew I did was wrong when a very little child. I said that I didn't know it was wrong, but he said, "Didn't your conscience tell you it was wrong?" But I didn't know what that conscience was. He said, "It is something that burns within you when you do wrong," and for years, I was expecting to feel something burning within me. When I was a little older, I knew more about that conscience that convicted me of doing things that I knew were wrong, and in that way, I was afraid of Almighty God. There came a time in my life, after listening to the message of the gospel when I made the choice that was asked of me. In the last meeting of six weeks of meetings, I said, "Whatever it means, Lord, whatever it costs, I will start tonight." And the next morning when I prayed, I bowed my knees before God and the first word that came to me was, "Father." There was a new nature and it was growing up in my life. There is nothing you and I need any more than the loving protection and care of that Heavenly Father.

 

There are difficult roads. He knows all about them and will take us by the hand. A little while ago, I was in a place where a father was trying to coax his son to go over the plank that went across a creek, and the little chap was very much afraid to go. No matter how much his father persuaded him that it was safe, he would go so far and then turn back. But the father took him by the hand and they went over the creek; and when that little lad was on the other side, he shouted as if he had gone over by himself.

 

This word on the lips of Jesus is very sacred to me and very precious, too, because of the place He was in when He uttered it. It was often on His lips, but this time it proved in spite of all that had come to Him, His faith was unshaken in His Father. Some of you, when things go wrong, our faith shatters and we feel as if something had happened to our God. But in spite of all that had come to Jesus, He was able to say, "Father," and then He prayed for those who mocked Him, those who spat upon Him, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

 

We were assured in the meeting this morning that there is forgiveness for every soul that comes sincerely to Jesus. There is forgiveness for everyone who comes with true repentance and asks for that forgiveness; and there isn't a man or woman, boy or girl in this meeting this afternoon that doesn't feel his need of that. The older I grow and the longer I am in God's way, the more grateful I am to Him for being able to come to Him for forgiveness of sins. There is one thing that would keep me from having that peace and comfort that would come to us as the result of coming in this way, and that is an unforgiving spirit. Jesus said, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." I could but be glad as I read over these words because I know that He could not only forgive them, but He could find an excuse for them. How different this is from human nature. How much unrest comes into our hearts and lives as a result of being unable to forgive. Even in that dark hour, He manifested to others who God His Father was, in forgiveness and in love even for His enemies.


The next words Jesus spoke are, "Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise." This was spoken to a young man hanging by His side who had made the petition, "Lord, remember me." I am not sure if this young man had heard of Christ before, but he saw enough in that short time to convince him that He was still the friend of sinners and his only hope, and so he made that petition, "Lord, remember me." He had deserved nothing from the Lord. He was indeed a man that deserved punishment and death because he was a robber. Some of us do not have very much opportunity to speak to others of this precious treasure that has come to us. But there is one  thing we can all do, and that is manifest the Life; and in showing the Spirit  that God has put within us, others will desire to know and possess what we have. It wasn't what Jesus said that brought conviction to this man; it was what He was as He hung by his side. Conviction isn't always brought to us by what people say but what people are. This man had his first chance perhaps, at least it was his last, and he had the comfort of knowing and hearing the words of assurance that, "Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise."

 

In the past year, I have felt on many occasions that I only had a very short time to help some to know what the way of salvation was. I have asked my companion, "What would you say to that man or woman if you knew you were never going to have another chance to give them the way of salvation?" Sometimes they have been slow to answer and sometimes they have answered in a vague way, but I have felt myself that our time is short and that there are men and women we may contact for the first and last time. And it is up to us to make manifest our interest in their souls and give them a chance, one at least, of being saved. This is our responsibility and we can do this as we make manifest the dying of the Lord Jesus in our lives.

 

The next word Jesus spoke was to His mother, "Woman, behold thy Son." He was looking down from the cross and saw His mother and a few other women standing by. Even in that dark hour, He was not thinking of Himself, but of others. I love to think that though He was poor and homeless, yet He was able to make intercession for the one who had been such a comfort to Him through all His experiences. She had heard that He would be great - king on the throne of David. Instead, He was on the cross. The greatness was coming to her in a way that was most unexpected.

 

Then there are sacrifices to be made on the part of parents that the kingdom of God might be extended in the world. And often my heart goes out to them as I feel they suffer, many of them, in seeing that lad or young girl leave the home to be in a wandering life and to know their future had no prospects so far as this life was concerned. I remember seeing Tom Fowler say goodbye to his old parents in New Zealand. He was returning to China for the second time and it made a tremendous impression upon me as I saw Tom try to pull away from that old couple. They were old; they were feeble; they needed him; but he said, "Goodbye." I shall never forget the set look upon his face and the farewell meeting. It touched my heart and refreshed memories in me of the time when I said goodbye to my mother for the last time. I remember in a moment of weakness saying to her that I would stay with her. She was physically ill but her spirit was strong. We know that it could not be very long when we should have to make the break and as we were together in the room with my suitcase packed, she trying to help me, I put my arms around her neck and said, "Mother, I cannot go; you need me," and I am glad she said, "You go. There are many that will take care of my sick body but few that will do what you are doing; you go." That is the mother that will get the reward - not those that are looking for earthly greatness. It is a painful process to watch the dying of the sons and daughters. They are not presented with medals of honour; and we are glad for the mothers and the fathers who encourage those who are standing by the cross to keep on doing so. Provision was made in the home and heart of another. John took care of the mother of Jesus. I often wish we had a little more said about it.

 

The next words are, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Jesus had been accustomed to being forsaken. He was misunderstood in His home. His brethren didn't believe on Him at the beginning of His ministry. He had the crowd following Him, but towards the end, He was forsaken by God. I have sometimes wished that my younger co-workers today could just experience a little of what we did in the days when we launched forth into the harvest field. We were able to speak to crowds night after night. We had many opportunities and a real incentive to keep on in the ripened field but God has brought us to the place where we now look into the face of one man or woman, sometimes a little boy or girl unsaved. The soul in that body is worth a million. Jesus had been accustomed to being forsaken by His brethren and by His own disciples even in the hour of greatest need, but now He is forsaken by God. It was a cry from a broken heart. I never read it, but it doesn't humble me. It causes me to worship the One that took my place. I deserved to die.


"The wages of sin is death." He took my place and God had to hide His face in the hours of darkness. There was a blackout of which we have never seen even in this day. The heavens were dark. Have we ever thanked God that He made it possible for us to escape the penalty of our sin? He was made sin for us. I never read that verse but what I marvel. He died "the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God." We would never have been here today unless that was true - that He died to bring us to God. Then He said the one word that came from His lips - physical suffering - "I thirst." How often He had offered the waters of life to others. How many times He stood and said, "If any man thirst, come unto Me." He did not save Himself or come down from the cross. He could have done it. I don't believe it was the physical pain of His body so much at this time. It was the pain of his heart; the consciousness that He was there alone, few to sympathize or understand. The thirst that He expressed there wasn't only the thirst of His body, but the thirst of His spirit. He was longing that someone might enter into this darkness with Him. There are some experiences, hours when we suffer most, we feel that we would not want any human to enter into; we want to be alone with God and fight the battle out ourselves.

 

In those hours of darkness as Jesus hung there, He was fighting a battle until He was able to say these words, "It is finished." The work given Him to do was finished. In John 17, He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." It was a cry of victory - the work was finished. Very early in His life, at the age of 12, He was about His Father's business. I like to think of that. Sometimes people say, "Oh, they are too young to understand. We would rather that they would wait awhile." I have experienced that it is very safe to encourage in every little heart that desire to God which would enable them to spend the best part of their life in the service of God. We have heard young men and women testify from this platform that were saved in earliest youth.


At 30 years of age, it was Jesus' strong desire to bring men to His Father. He left His home and His work and entered His life's work. It was a short life. It isn't the length of time we have been in the way, nor the length of time we have been in the service of God, but how much we have put into it. I have been forty-five years in God's service the 10th of October. I was very inexperienced when I launched out. My first field was Scotland. I have told you before of the first impression I made upon the meeting that I was to take part in for the first time. My companion was no older than I was. We were giving our testimony and the meeting was over in a short while. (I read a letter of a girl who is on a hospital ship. She said, "I had a little meeting in my cabin which lasted two hours." It was held at the time we were having meeting.) At the close of this meeting, one of the men said to someone, "Poor little thing, she should be home with her mother." If there was a way to go home, I think I would have gone. How many of us as servants of God will be able to say at the close of our ministry, "I have glorified Thee on the earth."

 

If there is anything I don't like to see, it is a piece of work started and year after year, it remains unfinished. I went back to a house in B.C. that I had been in thirty years ago, and it was still unfinished. I was a little bit sorry for those who had to live there - unfinished work. It is true in this matter of getting people saved and in giving our lives, also. We can easily lay down and not finish. "Be not weary in well doing for in due season you shall reap if ye faint not." The work that Jesus was speaking about here wasn't so much, I believe, the work of atoning, the atonement He made on the cross of Calvary; it included that, but it was all the will of His Father from start to finish. I would like to be able to say at the close of my life, "It is finished. I didn't turn aside." And then I would like to hear Him say, "Well done." I am not anxious to have Him say, "Well done, thou good and successful servant," as I am to hear Him say, "You were faithful to the trust committed to you." I like to contact men and women, young and old, who are glorifying the Lord, who are manifesting the spirit and grace of the Lord Jesus. They are ever a source of strength, and I would like to be this to others.

 

The last words Jesus said are these, "Father, into Thy hand I commend My Spirit." I know that these words from the lips of Jesus are words we are slow to use. I felt as I read over those words, "I could learn from every one of them." He was truly manifesting the life that pleased God even in death and was able to say at the last, "Father, into Thy hand I commend My Spirit." Some people are greatly taken up with where they will be laid away, and make provision for their body when the spirit leaves it. But to me, the thing that is most worthwhile is in life, so to live that we will be able to look into the face of our Father at the close of our day and say, "Receive my spirit." There wasn't in His heart anything but love and interest in each one of us, and He wants to see those who have received His words guided by them, so that at the close of day, He will be able to say, "Well done."



**May Carroll was 70 years old, at the time of this testimony.