The Second Word
Reading: Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Shared by James Zellhart
In His dying moments, Jesus was offering comfort to a His neighbor, a stranger, a criminal.
‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
We don’t know much about two of the three men being crucified that day, but we do know one thing for certain – Jesus loved them both. Even when one of the criminals rebuked him, Jesus didn’t give in to the temptation that we might feel to argue with him. And when the other criminal defended Jesus, declared his belief, and pleaded to be remembered by Jesus, Jesus told him the most comforting words of that man’s life.
“Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”
We’ve heard the saying, “What would Jesus do”. In this case, even with His last breaths, He was showing love, giving hope, sharing life. How relieving it must have been to hear those words from the Son of God. How surprising it must have been to see someone up on a cross, who is offering salvation to a convicted criminal. How inspiring it is that our God, even when suffering unimaginable, torturous pain, is still spreading the Good News.
“I assure you, today you be with me in paradise.
What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do? He never stopped forgiving, loving, and giving people what they needed. Even while he was dying.
And that forgiveness and love is always available to us, whenever we ask for it, whenever we need it.
The Fifth Word
Reading: John 19:28
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’
Shared by Daniel Jackson
Thirst is the body’s way of finding balance between its water and salt levels. It is a mechanism that warns our levels are not balanced. As we get older, we develop ways of overriding the mechanism…Like supplementing different fluids that have more flavor, or that leave you feeling slightly more euphoric than a regular glass of water. Maybe we fill our days with so much activity that we literally ignore the signals of thirst.
I, for one, avoided drinking water during my family’s road trip to Savannah this week. I thought, “It would run right through me, and force us to make more stops”, lengthening an already long drive. Funny thing about that trip: Every place that we stopped offered us a moment for wonderful growth. I spoke to people that I’ve never met. I saw places that I’ve never seen. I proudly represented a husband and father with interracial children, in communities that are scorned for harboring racial prejudices within its underbelly. People enjoyed the conversations they had with our 3-year old, and waving at our 12 month old….It seems that ,maybe, I should have drank more water.
Christ’s thirst was not of the water that mingles with the salt of the earth, but the Living Water provided by God’s love and grace. His crucifixion and persecution is a stark reminder of humanity’s willingness to satisfy it’s earthly desires, rather than its spiritual..in effect, leaving us all thirsty. Jesus chose to die so that we could live, but I feel that “I thirst” serves as a charge: We must quench the thirst of the Human Spirit if we want to solve the problems of our global society. May we all decide to partake in the endless river of God’s grace, and take the momentary pit stops of our journey to replenish our spirit for the arduous travel before us; to prepare ourselves to receive God’s Will, and not miss the wonders of life; to slow down and notice the lives that can be touched all around us; because one way or another we ALL reach our final destination. We should be more mindful of the pit-stops along the way.
The Seventh Word
Reading: Luke 23:44-46 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.
Shared by Bruce Purdy.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. These words have always moved me, bringing together an overwhelming mix of emotions. My first thoughts always go to the finality of death. I remember my sister Debbie and my grandmother McConnell as I sat by their bedsides and watched them take their last breaths. And watching my mom and her emotions, I can only imagine what Mary felt watching her Son on the cross.
But these words are said with so many different meanings, that to only focus on death we lose the deeper understanding of the very words.
- By calling “Father” Jesus not only affirms his relationship to God, but reassures us of our relationship with God. It is a relationship built on God’s love for all of us and all of creation.
- “Into your hands” – Jesus reminds us of God’s omnipresence – holding us all in the palm of his hands – especially in our darkest moments.
- I commend my spirit – Jesus shows us how to completely surrender our heart and soul to God, trusting in his eternal love.
These seven words also bring to mind 1st Corinthians Chapter 13: Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
Through our Faith, we trust in God’s promise of our salvation, we have Hope for our eternal life with our Father, bound in love through Jesus Christ.
So it is with our deeper understanding of these last seven words that our tears of sorrow become our tears of joy. It is with the love of Christ that we too can say – Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. Amen.