The First Word
Reading: Luke 23:32-34
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him (Jesus). When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’
Shared by Bill Susling.
“Father, Forgive Them”
The crucifixion had begun. The soldiers were driving nails through his hands and feet, fixing him to the cross.
Just the physical pain was horrendous. Jesus turns to prayer. I might have prayed for myself. But Jesus didn’t pray for himself. He prayed for others. “Father, forgive them.”
But who is “them”? Are they the soldiers who were hammering the nails? Yes, surely—“Father, forgive them.”
The soldiers had officers making sure the crucifixions were carried out smoothly. “Father, forgive them.”
Does this include the high priests and the elders? They wanted to be rid of this troublemaker. They brought Jesus to Pilate, the governor. Then they went among the crowd urging everyone to shout that Jesus should be crucified. “Father, forgive them.”
And the crowd—they did exactly what they were urged to do. They yelled, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Father, forgive them.”
What about Pilate, and as we learn from Luke, Herod the tetrarch? Either of these men could have stopped the crucifixion. They didn’t. “Father, forgive them.”
Yet Jesus suffered more than mere physical pain. He was bearing the sins of the world when he uttered this prayer. Bore the sins of the world is an easy thing to say. But bearing the world’s spiritual evil must be something that is incomprehensible to us.
Yes, Jesus bore your sins and mine. We are “them”. “Father, forgive them.” Father, forgive us. Amen.
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 Sixth Word
Reading: John 19:29-30
A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Shared by Alicia Lopez.
It is finished. This three word phrase is translated from the single Greek word: tetelestai. Grammatically, in this Bible passage, tetelestai is in the perfect passive indicative form. Breaking this down, the indicative form is used to represent non negotiable statements. The passive voice is interesting because it means the subject in this case, it, is being acted upon by the verb, finished. The passive voice usually means the subject does not have control over the action acting upon it. So, in this case, it gets finished without any say on it’s part. Finally the perfect tense. In Greek the perfect tense is a combination of the present tense, and the aorist tense. What does this mean? The present tense describes something current and ongoing, but the aorist tense describes something that happens at a specific time. So, it is finished both in that very moment, but also, in the current and ongoing time.
So, what is this “it” that is non-negotiable, passive, current and ongoing, but also happening at a specific time? It may be the end of Jesus’ human life on Earth. Or it may be that the sin of the world was forgiven and taken away at that time and forever.
A little more Greek may help. The root of tetelastai, is the word teleō. Teleo doesn’t just mean to finish, it can also mean to fulfill. On good friday we think about Jesus dying on the cross, we think about what in our lives could be non negotiable, passive, current and ongoing but alsos happening at a specific time. Maybe this it is by Jesus dying on the cross, God’s plan for us and the world is finished – fulfilled.
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.