This Easter I am continuing a new tradition. I am celebrating Easter apart from my family but with people who have become a part of my Iowan family. I have celebrated my friends’ traditions while creating some new ones as well. This morning my friend Patsy and I went on a run. We forgot water and at one point I cried “i am so thirty” as we were running up a steep hill we asked the holy spirit to strengthen us. I was reminded that today, my Christ suffered on a cross for me and that he spoke “I am thirsty”
Today, as a way to celebrate Good Friday we went to a service at Lutheran Church of Hope. I enjoyed getting to celebrate this day with two wonderful friends in my life, Sara and Claire, but most importantly loved seeing Christ’s character through his last seven phrases spoken while on the cross:
1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34
On the cross, he thinks of me who daily forgets him in my life. Yet, he is not angry. At the height of his suffering, his love prevails and he asks His father to forgive me. Right up to his final hours, he preaches forgiveness
2. “Truly, i say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43
Not only are religious leaders and soldiers mocking Him, but the criminal on the left of Him as well. But the criminal on the right says “remember me when you come into your kingdom” what wonderful faith this repentant sinner has in Jesus, far more than doubting Thomas, one of his own disciples. Jeaus shows his divinity by opening heaven for a repentant sinner. I want my prayer to be “Remember me as you enter your kingdom”
3. “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son.”
Then he said to the disciple: “Behold your mother.”
This phrase is about honor. Jesus is concerned for his mother and looks to John to care for her. A theme throughout the Bible is of honor or dishonor. “I am The Lord your God” “honor the sabbath” “honor your mother and father” While on the cross in the worse circumstance he shows honor to his mother. Where is the honor of God in my life
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34
Jesus has never been apart from His father until this moment. He knew the mission and he knew the cost. Jesus holds onto the words”this is my son who I am delighted in” through his whole time on earth through. The word, “My god” is familiar to me; it resonates with me. This is what I call in the darkest hour. The question comes next, “why?” Why have you done this to me? Jesus took on my sins and all of our sins and it was heavy. He could no longer defend his Father’s love or His ministry. At this point he had to trust to continue His ministry while He took care of the weight of our sins. my prayer is that i would Call to the cross and lay down my sin and find new life.
5. “I am thirsty” John 19:28.Jesus is both spiritually and physically exhausted. He isn’t just thirsty for water or sour wine but out every ounce of strength that is left, he still thirsts for our righteousness. This is like the cry from the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed is he who thirsts for righteousness”
On the cross, Jesus has to empty himself so that there is room made for us to be fulfilled. I can’t leave Him on the cross, but my prayer is to allow Him to fill my empty soul.
This reminds me of the beautiful lyrics of the hymn, Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended “I crucified Jesus and since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,”
6. When Jesus had received the wine, he said,”It is finished;”
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.
It is done, it is over. Some heard these words with satisfaction that he was a false prophet. To them, he disturbed order and thru the crucifixion they had ended it. To them, He had admitted defeat. There were others who heard those words much differently with a sense of despair and loss of hope. To them, this was a tragic ending and their freedom was lost. Even they heard him say it was finished in terms of being defeated.
But the cry isn’t a claim of defeat, but further from it. This phrase more accurately means it had been accomplished. He obtained what His life had focused on. This is the reason He came. Earlier in John he said to His disciples he “Came to do the will of the one who sent him and he would finish him” On the cross he triumphed for once and for all to bring us all back into relationship with The Father
7. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
These are Jesus’ last words before death. He claims, ” I am the light of the world” but is far from that when hanging on the cross, helpless, surrounded by darkness. Our sin is paid through his sacrifice. The darkness is so real. Most times I dwell on Sunday rather than Friday. I focus on the fact that He rose from the dead instead of the death itself. But I can’t skip to the ending without focusing on this. I have darkness and sin but with the cross it can be placed at the foot of an old Roman cross. Death is not the end of the story. And in this final holy moment may I feel his final breath calling out to me ” let it go and commit everything to me because you can trust me.” I can trust that His grace is greater than my sin. And His love is stronger than my rebellion. Jesus gave his life and now I will give up mine.
Psalm 31: 5 “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God”
To many times, I have neglected the real meaning of Easter. Yes, the fact that He rose from the grave is of greatest importance, but not until you focus on the death. Through reading each phrase spoken by Jesus on Good Friday I feel more in love with his character: his selflessness, love, honor and grace. Friday is important to remember. Without Friday, there is no Sunday
Without the cross, there is no tomb
If there is no last breath there can be no first breath. May I run to the rugged cross as there is no where to turn. May I see how deep and wide the father’s love is for me.