Friday, April 6, 2012
The Seven Last Words: A Reflection
As a skinny little girl in pigtails, I never understood the "Seven Last Words."
"If there were seven last words, why in the world is the preacher saying so many words?" I'd think.
No longer a skinny little girl in pigtails, I've come to know the Savior that spoke those last words. I thought I'd share a few words about each of the seven words with you on Good Friday, and more importantly, right before Easter Sunday.
I. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do
A powerful first word from our Savior. Can you imagine His eyes surveying the crowd as He spoke those words? His mother Mary, his beloved friend John and other loved ones surely wept until they had no more tears.
But His enemies were there too -- jeering and casting insults. And how did He respond?
With mercy and grace.
Oh, may our lives reflect the heart of our Savior. May we be vessels of mercy and grace -- not only for our loved ones, but for those that reject and oppose us. May we love like He did.
II. Today you will be with me in paradise
Again we see the grace and mercy of Jesus in these words. A criminal hanging on a cross beside Him, cries out during his last hours on earth, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Luke 23:42 Jesus looks on the guilty man with eyes of compassion, and releases Him of every sin he'd ever committed.
Have you cried out to Him for forgiveness? No matter how minor or heinous our sins, we can all be forgiven at the cross of Christ. Don't go another day without Him. Like the criminal on the cross, today could be your last.
III. Behold your son: behold your mother
I love when the bible illuminates Jesus' humanity. He was fully God and fully man. And as a man, He loved His Mama. He needed reassurance of her welfare after His death. So He looks to John, the beloved disciple, and says (in my 2012 translation), "John, my man, take care of my Moms. I'll be with her in Spirit, but she's gonna need you in the flesh."
Are you loving and honoring your Mama? Are you caring for your parents well as they grow older? They spent many years taking care of us. It's the least we can do in return.
IV. My God, my god, why have you forsaken me
The Bible says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
When Jesus hung on that wooden cross, He did so for you and me. The burden of the sins of the world weighed down on His steady shoulders. My sins, your sins and every sin ever committed hung Him on that cross. Our sins made God turn His eyes away from His Son.
What amazing love He had for you and me. Let's bask in that love, not take it for granted. His grace is free to us, but cost Him much. Let's not waste His precious grace.
V. I thirst
Again, we witness the humanity of Christ. As He hung on the cross, He experienced physical thirst.
As humans, we too experience thirst -- physical thirst and spiritual thirst. We thirst for love. We thirst for approval. We thirst for significance.
Whatever you're thirsting for today, bring it to Jesus. Only He can quench your thirst.
VI. It is finished
When Jesus mentions His thirst, someone finds a jar of wine vinegar, soaks a sponge with it, and offers it to the lips of the Savior. "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." John 19:30
Those three words meant much more than Jesus' death. They were words of triumph, not defeat. They proclaimed His victory over death and hell -- not just for Himself, but for us too. When we place our lives in His hands, we too will be victorious over death and hell.
Like the repentant thief, we too will be with Him in paradise. Hallelujah!
VII. Father, into your hand I commit my spirit
The book of John records Jesus' absolute last words before His death. The sun ceases to shine, the curtain of the Jewish Temple rips in two and Jesus speaks these words in a loud voice.
Jesus performed countless miracles during his short ministry on earth. He'd turned water to wine, He'd healed lepers and blind men and the woman whose body never ceased to bleed. He could have performed His last miracle that day by removing Himself from the cross and avoiding death altogether.
But He stayed on the cross for me. He remained on the cross for you.
He willingly committed His spirit into the hands of the Father because He loved us. He chose to die a shameful death reserved for the worst of the worst criminals.
A cross reserved for you and me.
You see, He took our place on that rugged cross. And for that I'm eternally grateful.