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, 2006, and 2008 by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Copyright © 2008 by Mark D. Roberts Note: You may download this resource at no cost, for personal use or for use in a Christian ministry, as long as you are not publishing it for sale. All I ask is that you give credit where credit is due. For all other uses, please contact me at email@example.com. Thank you. Note: You may also want to check out my series: The Stations of the Cross: A Devotional Guide for Lent and Holy Week
My Various Writings on Jesus The Birth of Jesus: Hype or History? Was Jesus Divine? The Early Christian Understanding Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Was Jesus Married? A Careful Look at the Real Evidence What Was the Message of Jesus? How Can We Know Anything about the Real Jesus? What Languages Did Jesus Speak and Why Does It Matter? Recovering the Scandal of the Cross? The Passion of the Christ: An In-Depth Review Book -- Jesus Revealed: Know Him Better to Love Him Better
The First Word The Second Word
Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing. I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
The Third Word Dear woman, here is your son. The Fourth Word My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? The Fifth Word The Seventh Word I am thirsty. The Sixth Word It is finished. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
The First Word: "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series
Copyright © Linda Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, please contact Mark D. Roberts. Reflection It makes sense that the first word of Jesus from the cross is a word of forgiveness. That's the point of the cross, after all. Jesus is dying so that we might be forgiven for our sins, so that we might be reconciled to God for eternity.
But the forgiveness of God through Christ doesn't come only to those who don't know what they are doing when they sin. In the mercy of God, we receive his forgiveness even when we do what we know to be wrong. God chooses to wipe away our sins, not because we have some convenient excuse, and not because we have tried hard to make up for them, but because he is a God of amazing grace, with mercies that are new every morning. As we read the words, "Father, forgive them," may we understand that we too are forgiven through Christ. As John writes in his first letter, "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9). Because Christ died on the cross for us, we are cleansed from all wickedness, from every last sin. We are united with God the Father as his beloved children. We are free to approach his throne of grace with our needs and concerns. God "has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west" (Ps 103:13). What great news! Questions for Reflection Do you really believe God has forgiven your sins? Do you take time on a regular basis to confess your sins so that you might enjoy the freedom of forgiveness? Do you need to experience God's forgiveness in a fresh way today? Prayer Gracious Lord Jesus, it's easy for me to speak of your forgiveness, even to ask for it and to thank you for it. But do I really believe I'm forgiven? Do I experience the freedom that comes from the assurance that you have cleansed me from my sins? Or do I live as if I'm "semi-forgiven"? Even though I've put my faith in you and confessed my sins, do I live as sin still has power over me? Do I try to prove myself to you, as if I might be able to earn more forgiveness? Dear Lord, though I believe at one level that you have forgiven me, this amazing truth needs to penetrate my heart in new ways. Help me to know with fresh conviction that I am fully and finally forgiven, not because of anything I have done, but because of what you have done for me. May I live today as a forgiven person, opening my heart to you, choosing not to sin because the power of sin has been broken by your salvation. All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for your matchless forgiveness! Amen.
The Second Word: "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series
Copyright © Linda Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, please contact Mark D. Roberts. Reflection As Jesus hung on the cross, he was mocked by the leaders and the soldiers. One of the criminals being crucified with him added his own measure of scorn. But the other crucified criminal sensed that Jesus was being treated unjustly. After speaking up for Jesus, he cried out, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (v. 42). Jesus responded to this criminal, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise" (v. 43). The word paradise, from the Greek word paradeisos, which meant "garden," was used in the Greek Old Testament as a word for the Garden of Eden. In Judaism of the time of Jesus it was associated with heaven, and also with the future when God would restore all things to the perfection of the Garden. Paradise was sometimes thought to be the place where righteous people went after death. This seems to be the way Jesus uses paradise in this passage. Thus we have encountered one of the most astounding and encouraging verses in all of Scripture. Jesus promised that the criminal would be with him in paradise. Yet the text of Luke gives us no reason to believe this man had been a follower of Jesus, or even a believer in him in any welldeveloped sense. He might have felt sorry for his sins, but he did not obviously repent. Rather, the criminal's cry to be remembered seems more like a desperate, last-gasp effort. Though we should make every effort to have right theology, and though we should live our lives each day as disciples of Jesus, in the end, our relationship with him comes down to simple trust.
embodying the mercy of God. dear Lord. here is your son.” (John 19:26) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series . exceeds anything we might imagine. you offer the promise of paradise. The Third Word: “Dear woman. And so I pray: Jesus. and not because we are living rightly. encourages us. Today I live. how I wonder at your grace and mercy! When we cry out to you. My life. trusting you and you alone. says to us. Questions for Reflection Have you staked your life on Jesus? Have you put your ultimate trust in him? Do you know that. It embraces us. Your mercy. remember me today as I seek to live within your kingdom! Amen. but now and in the world to come. is in your hands. but because God is merciful and we have put our trust in Jesus. O Lord. though my situation is so different from the criminal who cried out to you. heals us. When we ask you to remember us when you come into your kingdom. when your time comes. remember me. remember me when you come into your kingdom! Jesus." We are welcome there not because we have right theology. "You will be with me in paradise."Jesus. And Jesus. you will be with him in paradise? Prayer Dear Lord Jesus. I am nevertheless quite like him." we cry. you hear us.
Most of the male disciples had fled. For permission to use this picture. with the exception of one whom the Fourth Gospel calls "the disciple he loved. Jesus wanted to make sure she would be in good hands after his death. it's clear that Jesus was forging a relationship between this disciple and his mother. when he said to Mary: "And a sword will pierce your very soul" (Luke 2:35). We are reminded that Jesus was a real human being. We're reminded of the prophecy of Simeon shortly after Jesus' birth. who is also the one behind the writing of this Gospel. a man who had once been a boy who had once been carried in the womb of his mother. ." We can't be exactly sure of the identity of this beloved disciple. his mother was among those who had remained with him. Jesus was also a son. Even as he was dying on the cross as the Savior of the world. The presence of Mary at the cross adds both humanity and horror to the scene. one in which the disciple would take care of Mary financially and in other ways. Roberts. No matter who the beloved disciple was. To watch one's beloved child experience the extreme torture of crucifixion must have been unimaginably terrible.Copyright © Linda Roberts. The death of a child is one of the most painful of all parental experiences. our horror increases dramatically. Reflection As Jesus was dying. When we think of the crucifixion of Jesus from the perspective of his mother. though many interpreters believe he is John. please contact Mark D. a role he didn't neglect in his last moments. 2007.
why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series . Questions for Reflection What does Mary's presence at the cross evoke in you? Why do you think was it necessary for Jesus to suffer physical pain as he died? Prayer Lord Jesus. fully God and fully human. my love. my God. a son of a mother. true flesh and blood. He was a real man. You are also a fully human man. Lord Jesus. and he took it on for you and for me. Thank you for bearing my sin on the cross. I offer my sincere gratitude for your suffering. I give you my praise. Nevertheless. all that I am. All praise be to you. . the presence of your mother at the cross engages my heart.This scene helps us not to glorify or spiritualize the crucifixion of Jesus. Savior of the world . my heart . dying with unbearable agony. The Fourth Word: “My God. My thoughts seem superficial and vague. . how can I begin to thank you for what you suffered? My words fall short. my Savior! Amen. You are no longer only the Savior dying for the sins of the world. because you have given me all that you are. . a son with a mother. His suffering was altogether real. O Lord. .
I can say. we will never fully know what Jesus was experiencing in this moment.So-called "God's Tear" from The Passion of the Christ. but you do not answer. Was he asking this question because. Reflection As Jesus was dying on the cross. he echoed the beginning of Psalm 22. my God. The beloved Son of God knew what it was like to be rejected by the Father. my God. he didn't know why God had abandoned him? Or was his cry not so much a question as an expression of profound agony? Or was it both? What we do know is that Jesus entered into the Hell of separation from God. that the Father abandoned the Son for our sake. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you. for the . which reads: My God. in the mystery of his incarnational suffering. so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (NIV). (vv. In that excruciating moment. The Father abandoned him because Jesus took upon himself the penalty for our sins. truly. Every night you hear my voice. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21. but I find no relief. he experienced something far more horrible than physical pain. I can write these words. 1-2) In the words of the psalmist Jesus found a way to express the cry of his heart: Why had God abandoned him? Why did his Father turn his back on Jesus in his moment of greatest agony? This side of heaven.
And pour contempt on all my pride. Love so amazing. I sacrifice them to his blood. dear Lord. to humility. My richest gain I count but loss. Save in the death of Christ my God. his hands. Demands my soul. But can I really grasp the mystery and the majesty of this truth? Hardly. Were the whole realm of nature mine." I am overwhelmed with gratitude. to worship. for what you suffered.salvation of the world. Thank you for taking my place. Who can understand it?" Yet even my miniscule grasp of this reality calls me to confession. That were a present far too small. "God forsaking God. As Martin Luther once said. Lord. to adoration.” (John 19:28) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series . my life. his feet. from his head. though I will never fully grasp the wonder and horror of your abandonment by the Father. When I survey the wondrous cross. so divine. "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts (1707) The Fifth Word: “I am thirsty. On which the Prince of glory died. How can I ever thank you for what you suffered for me? What can I do but to offer myself to you in gratitude and praise? Thank you. See. Sorrow and love flow mingled down. Forbid it. All the vain things that charm me most. Or thorns compose so rich a crown. my all. Thank you for being forsaken by the Father so that I might never be. every time I read this "word. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet. Questions for Reflection Have you taken time to consider that Jesus was abandoned by the Father so that you might not be? What does this "word" from the cross mean to you? Prayer O Lord Jesus. that I should boast.
a request for something to drink. even as he was taking upon himself the sin of the world. both blood and sweat. through what he had endured even prior to crucifixion. 20-21) As he suffered. that which had been captured in the Psalms. Though there is no specific reference in the text of the Gospel. But instead. on the most obvious level. .Painting from a church in Taormina. if only one would turn and comfort me. John notes that Jesus said "I am thirsty. Sicily Reflection No doubt Jesus experienced extreme thirst while being crucified. 29). "I am thirsty" was. (vv. but also in order to fulfill the Scripture. Thus his statement. He would have lost a substantial quantity of bodily fluid. which includes this passage: Their insults have broken my heart. If only one person would show some pity. In response the soldiers gave Jesus "sour wine" (v. Jesus embodied the pain of the people of Israel." not only as a statement of physical reality. they give me poison for food. Jesus was suffering for the sin of Israel. a cheap beverage common among lower class people in the time of Jesus. they offer me sour wine for my thirst. and I am in despair. it's likely that John was thinking of Psalm 69.
Rather. I am thirsty for him. My soul yearns for the living water that Jesus supplies (John 4:10. "I am thirsty. It's nothing like that of Jesus. Besides extraordinary pain. The Sixth Word: “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series . I too am thirsty. once again I thank you for what you suffered on the cross." I keep thinking of my own thirst. I yearn for your Spirit to fill me once again. Rather. 7:38-39). you also experienced extreme thirst. for you. Lord. not for physical drink. in your words "I am thirsty" I hear the cry of my own heart. Lord. Amen. I need the new wine of your kingdom to flood my soul. Questions for Reflection How do you respond to Jesus' statement "I am thirsty"? What does this statement suggest to you about Jesus? About yourself? Prayer O Lord. I am thirsty. Dear Lord. I rejoice in the fact that he suffered physical thirst on the cross – and so much more – so that my thirst for the water of life might be quenched. All of this was part and parcel of your taking on our humanity so that you might take away our sin. I don't need sour wine.As I reflect on Jesus' statement. I need to be refreshed by your living water.
and not just anybody. He had revealed the love and grace of God. but my Lord and Savior. thus opening up the way for all to . Eugene Peterson captures the full sense of the verb in The Message: "It's done . in part. complete. California Reflection I never saw a more difficult film to watch than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. . and knew in my head what Jesus experienced. For most of that movie I wanted to avert my eyes. Malibu." surely he was expressing relief that his suffering was over. It was horrible to watch even a cinematic version of a crucifixion. When Jesus said "It is finished. "This is finally done!" But the Greek verb translated as "It is finished" (tetelestai) means more than just this.Statue from The Stations of the Cross. Serra Retreat Center. "It is finished" meant. Thank goodness it was finished. And he had embodied that love and grace by dying for the sin of the world. When The Passion of the Christ was over. . I had studied the crucifixion before. But seeing a visual presentation of his suffering was almost more than I could bear." Jesus had accomplished his mission. I felt palpable relief. And it was beyond comprehension to think that this actually happened to somebody. He had announced and inaugurated the kingdom of God.
We know that nothing can separate us from God's love. for saving me! Alleluia! Amen. All praise be to you. taking the sin of the world upon your sinless shoulders . you and I don't need to add to it. The Seventh Word: “Father. All praise be to you. for finishing the work of salvation. dear Lord Jesus? You did it. You finished that for which you had been sent. we can't. Because of what he finished. . One day what God has begun in us will also be finished. You accomplished that which no other person could do. taking my sin so that I might receive your forgiveness and new life.live under the reign of God. you and I are never "finished. by his grace. . taking our sin upon himself and giving us his life in return. I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46) Permalink to this post / Permalink to this series ." We have hope for this life and for the next. faithful in death. Until that day. and we are the beneficiaries of his unique effort. In fact. Because Jesus finished his work of salvation. we live in the confidence of Jesus' cry of victory: "It is finished!" Questions for Reflection Do you live as if Jesus finished the work of salvation? To you have confidence that God will finish that which he has begun in you? Prayer How can I ever find words to express my gratitude to you. gracious Lord. faithful in life. dear Jesus. Jesus finished that for which he had been sent. He accomplished what we never could.
Reflection Two of the last seven "words" of Jesus were quotations from the Psalms. we see more than what at first meets our eyes. Earlier Jesus had Psalm 22. (v. Later he borrowed from Psalm 31.Copyright © Linda Roberts. "My God. for you do what is right. my God. Save me." On an obvious level." But when we look carefully at the Psalm Jesus quoted. Rescue me. for you are a faithful God. Psalm 31 begins with a cry for divine help: O LORD. don’t let me be disgraced. For permission to use this picture. "Whatever happens to me after I die is your responsibility. It was as if he was saying. why have you abandoned me?" to express his anguish. LORD. Jesus was putting his post mortem future in the hands of his Heavenly Father. 1) But then it mixes asking for God's deliverance with a confession of God's strength and faithfulness: I entrust my spirit into your hand. I have come to you for protection. 5) . (v. Roberts. 2007. I entrust my spirit into your hands. Father. please contact Mark D. which comes to us from Luke as "Father.
Amen. but also implied that he would be delivered and exonerated. dear Lord. your life beyond this life. I submit to your sovereignty over my life. for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. here is your son. Lord. No. available to you. The Third Word Woman. today you will be with me in Paradise. "I entrust my spirit into your hands" points back to the familiar suffering of David in Psalm 31. therefore. and forward to the resurrection. forgive them. Here I am. 2006 Reflections The First Word The Second Word Father. Questions for Reflection Have you put your life and. both now and in the future. As you entrusted your spirit into the Father's hands. and you alone to be my Savior. Truly I tell you. my God. But beyond this horrific death lay something marvelous. Easter Sunday is on the horizon.By the end. I trust you. you did so in anticipation of what was to come. so I give my life to you. why have you forsaken me? The Fifth Word I am thirsty. So we reflect upon your death. in God's hands? How do you experience God's salvation through Christ in your life today? Prayer Gracious Lord. that the cross was not the end for you. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. and seek to live for your glory alone. With Good Friday behind us. Jesus not only entrusted his future to his Father. The Sixth Word It is finished. God would not deliver him from death by crucifixion. (v. The Fourth Word My God. 21) By quoting a portion of Psalm 31. for they do not know what they are doing. How good it is to know. . Psalm 31 offers praise of God's salvation: Praise the LORD. but in hope. indeed. even as you once entrusted your spirit into the hands of the Father. not in despair.
The people who crucified You had no idea. but the sins of the very ones who stood there. They didn't know that as You hung there in front of them. that Your death on a cross would bring life to the world. None of these realized who You were.” Luke 23:34 Copyright © Linda Roberts. Roberts. 2006. They didn't know that You should have been lifted up.The Seventh Word Father. who alone had the authority to order Your crucifixion. Yet they had no idea what they were doing. Lord Jesus. a rabble-rouser. The First Word Part 1 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Monday. please contact Mark D. jeering and . as I reflect on this first word. forgive them. 2006 “Father. I think of those who put You on that cross: Roman soldiers who were simply following orders. for they do not know what they are doing. but refrained out of obedience to the Father. They had no idea what they were doing. into your hands I commend my spirit. They saw You as a pest. not just the sins of the world. once and for all. They didn't know that You had the power to snuff them out in a moment. April 10. They had no idea that Your creative design bound the atoms of Your cross together. They had no idea that your crucifixion would soon be the center of the best news ever proclaimed. Pontius Pilate. They had no idea that You were the Lord of Glory. You were someone they needed to get out of the way. but in praise. For permission to use this picture. None realized what they were doing. A Prayer of Reflection O Jesus. you were bearing. Jewish leaders who perceived You as a threat to their power. a threat. not in execution. and most of all. the Word of God Incarnate.
The Second Word Part 2 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Tuesday. And they never imagined that Your death was God's way of saving the world. What can I offer you in response but my gratitude. And. Amen. No doubt I sometimes sin in ignorance. and my life in service to you? You deserve it all. All praise to You. Lord. A Prayer of Reflection . not knowing what I'm doing. for bearing my sin upon the cross.laughing at You. Lord Jesus. Jesus. including me. but to those who knowingly sin. They would never have believed that before long Your name would be proclaimed throughout the world as Lord and Savior. today you will be with me in Paradise . all that I am. my worship. For permission to use this picture. those who killed you didn't realize that You were dying so they themselves might be forgiven. 2006. Roberts. How immensely grateful I am that Your forgiveness extends. though I was not there on that day. my love. 2006 “Truly I tell you. all that I have.” Luke 23:43 Copyright © Linda Roberts. As You prayed for their forgiveness. Yet all too often I know exactly what I'm doing. but only the beginning. so that I might be forgiven. They never imagined that in a few hours You would be raised triumphant. that Your death would not be the end of your influence. my sin helped put You on that cross. April 11. Those who crucified You would have been astounded to know that someday images of Your cross would be found on every continent. having defeated sin and death. please contact Mark D. dear Jesus. gloriously proclaiming Your victory over the powers of darkness. not only to those who err in ignorance. and I do it still. They had no idea.
Even he admitted that he had been justly condemned! Did he know who You really were? Did he even realize what he was asking You? I doubt it. to hear these words coming from You as You hung on the cross. my fervent hope that Your mercy outweighs my sin. I might not realize my sorry state. for all of my pretense. I believe that You're the Lord and Savior. Yet You promised Paradise? Just who did You think You were. in truth. He wasn't suffering for the sake of righteousness. But is this why I have the promise of being with You in Paradise? Is it mostly about me. a home for suffering and death. an oasis of refreshment and life? Though the gospels don't record it. Rather. remember me when you come into your kingdom! Amen. Indeed. Jesus. rocky hillock. I can't help but imagine the sneering laughter that greeted Your promise of Paradise. Jesus. remember me! Jesus. But. Jesus. a barren. It's hard to imagine a place farther from Paradise than Golgotha. horrendously suffering. You're my only Lord and Savior. my trust that You can save me. I might live as if I'm in control. remember me when you come into your kingdom"? Nothing suggests that the man to whom You offered hope had done much to deserve Your favor. 2006 .How strange it must have seemed. to offer such hope to a dying criminal? Who gave you the keys to the Garden? By what authority did you open the gates of heaven? And what made this crucified criminal so special? Why did You promise Paradise to him? Was it his recognition of Your innocence? Or was it his urgent request. He hadn't followed You. helplessly dying. "Jesus. What could be farther away from the lush garden of Paradise. I have nothing to offer You except my simple. he was merely a dying man with a desperate plea. "Jesus. The Third Word Part 3 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Wednesday. but because of his crimes. in the end I'm not much different from the one who cried out to You in desperation. April 12. vulnerably naked. remember me!" Am I really all that different from the crucified criminal? Oh. He hadn't left everything behind to be Your disciple. And I have sought to be Your disciple for more than four decades. There You were. I expect that I could run theological circles around him. Lord. childlike faith. or mostly about You? Indeed.
but mostly as a way for me to note Your care for her. dear Jesus. is a moment of tenderness: a mother remaining near her beloved son even when what she was seeing must have pummeled her heart with unspeakable grief . Mary's presence at Your cross was touching. Roberts. here at the foot of your cross. Yet now. making sure she'll be in good hands after his death. She engages my heart. 2006. I realize how much I am horrorstruck by what You experienced on the cross. . I find it natural to stand back and watch Your death from a dispassionate distance. Partly that's my nature. Seeing through her eyes. plain and simple. For years. And in ways I cannot fully understand. The contrast between the horror of the context and the kindness of the communication couldn't be more stark. her anguish in watching You suffer must have been unbearable. to analyze and to examine. But Mary draws me in. and incomprehensible brutality. And even if Mary somehow understood that this was part of God's plan. I kept her at a safe. As a good Protestant. . a son caring for his mother in his last minutes of life. For permission to use this picture. I find myself drawn into Mary's perspective. I can't imagine a more agonizing moment. . and this is at first horrendous. And partly I'm afraid to let my heart feel the pain of my beloved Savior's crucifixion.” John 19:26 Copyright © Linda Roberts. inhumanity. please contact Mark D. much as I would a valuable antique that was dangerously fragile. But she remained there with You because she loved You. A Prayer of Reflection Jesus. to think about what's happening. respectful distance. and how much I love You. how much I am awestruck by the majesty of Your sacrifice. here is your son. I must quickly put that thought away because it's more than I can bear. Mary's love for You stirs up my passion for You. as a parent.“Woman. I didn't know what do with Your mother. If I think of how I would feel watching my own son die as you died. in the midst of injustice.
Surely. I used to be confused by Your use of this question. though I cannot literally come before Your cross. Yet what else You understood at the moment. into the mystery of the Trinity. utterly grieved. There's so much I don't understand. The Fourth Word Part 4 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Thursday. That's why You were be crucified. if I'm toying with heresy here. into the immensity of divine grace. God the Father had forsaken You because You were bearing the sin of the world. I thought. By Your prayerful use of the first verse of Psalm 22. utterly humbled. after all.So. April 13. You became our sin so that we might become Your righteousness. Was part of your bearing our sin taking on our ignorance of the Father? Was this part of our punishment that You took on out of love? (Forgive me. 2006 “My God. utterly filled with love for You. Jesus. Amen. I can't be sure. and surely You knew that. my God. Right? Or did You? How can I know what You surrendered in becoming human? How can I be sure what You knew and did not know as You hung on the cross? There's no question You knew You were doing the Father's will. That's why You were forsaken. utterly horrified. there may be no other verse in all of Scripture that perplexes and moves me more than this one. You invite us into the Holy of holies. why have You forsaken me?” Mark 15:34 So-called "God's Tear" from The Passion of the Christ. Prayer of Reflection Lord Jesus. As Paul puts it.) . You knew the answer. my Lord. nevertheless I stand before You now. Lord. utterly grateful.
You chose to be rejected by the Father. The Fifth Word Part 5 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Friday. and honor be to You. you'd never known what separation from God was like. Yet here is the core of the gospel. 1600 Prayer of Reflection . April 14. "Christ and the Samaritan Woman. How can God forsake God? How can the sinless Son truly bear the sin of the world? Though I confess these to be true. But in Your unfathomable love. . You suffered far worse than unbearable physical pain." John 19:28 Bernardo Strozzi. but I did. . You took away my sin. All praise. and breaking its power. Yet on the cross. You didn't . All I can do is stand back and marvel. being forsaken by the Father. Lamb of God. and then fall on my knees in awestruck worship. so that we might be accepted. You took my place and gave me Your place. God the Son. Hallelujah! All praise be to You! Amen. the One who had perfect relationship with the Father." c. I'll never fully know what my confessions means. You took away the sin of the world. the deepest anguish of all time and history. This miracle escapes my understanding. "Why have you forsaken me?" less a question that required a theological answer and more a cry of anguish. the Word Incarnate. I earned the rejection You received. glory. Before You took our sin upon Yourself. Dear Lord. 2006 “I am thirsty. You were. Here is the wonder of grace revealed: the sinless Son of God becoming as if He were sin. after all.Or was Your cry. You received what sin deserves. I deserved the cross. at least in this world. taking it upon Yourself. you didn't deserve what you experienced on the cross.
on a literal level this request makes perfect sense. April 14. Thank You for dying. through Your death. 2006 . through Your deprivation. our parched souls might be quenched. The Sixth Word Part 6 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Friday afternoon. Why? So that. Amen. Yet I marvel at the irony of Your asking for something to drink. So that. but also the cup of the new covenant in Your blood. Thank You. through Your thirst. we might drink of eternal life.Lord Jesus. Your first miracle in the Gospel of John involved turning water into wine. So that. After all. You invited all who are thirsty to come to You and drink (John 7). You told her that You offered living water that quenches all thirst (John 4). Now. Through this cup we are drawn into intimate. we might enjoy the new wine of the kingdom. on the cross. so that I might be satisfied. so that I might live through You. Not long thereafter. Thank You for being empty. Not only do You offer living water. no doubt Your thirst was burning bitterly. for being thirsty. so that I might be filled. Lord. dear Jesus. From this cup we drink deeply of Your forgiveness. providing liquid refreshment at a wedding (John 2). And then You had a conversation with a Samaritan woman after You had asked her for a drink. everlasting relationship with God. You who invited the thirsty to come now suffer severe dehydration. as John points out in His gospel. Your request enabled the fulfillment of the psalm that spoke of vinegar being offered to the one drowning in troubles (Psalm 69). You who had the power to turn water into wine have chosen not to quench Your own thirst. And. You who offered fresh. living water chose to drink the rancid vinegar of death. You are thirsty. Given all You had endured.
and You did it in obedience to Him. my life has begun. how you said these words. Your time of torture had almost ended. Yet. "I am finished. dear Jesus. In moments Your pain would be over. But did You also realize what You had accomplished? In Your devastated physical state." I expect that. was finished. Most of all. even being forsaken by the Father. But I can feel relieved for You that Your suffering is over." but "It is finished. Serra Retreat Center Prayer of Reflection I wonder. Because You finished that work. that You had erased the stain of sin. and You did it. You spoke in exhausted relief. Now You had finished Your task. There is no way I can fully grasp what "It is finished" meant to You. the grand work of redemption. and You alone had the ability to break the power of sin. this was completed. did You understand that You had born the guilt of humankind. Lord. And I can be astounded by Your faithful obedience." It. "It is finished. You knew what the Father had called You to do. that You had crushed the head of the Serpent? You said. finished. Lord Jesus. God's amazing work of salvation. sensing that Your body was about to expire. This work. I expect You also spoke with the same resolution that carried You from the Garden to the cross.“It is finished. not. You." John 19:30 Statue from The Stations of the Cross. the master plan established before the creation of the world. I can marvel with gratitude over what You did on the cross. in part. .
all my thinking. Could my tears forever flow. 2006. The Seventh Word Part 7 of The Seven Last Words of Christ for Holy Week (2006) Posted for Saturday. even still. Be of sin the double cure. what do I have left but to trust You? I think of the moving words of the hymn "Rock of Ages": Rock of Ages. Let the water and the blood. all my deeds. Let me hide myself in Thee.Amen." Luke 23:46 Copyright © Linda Roberts. my situation is far from that of Your Son. by the fact that this is my prayer too. For permission to use this picture. . To be sure. Roberts. From Thy wounded side which flowed. please contact Mark D. both good and bad. But. all my efforts. Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands. into your hands I commend my spirit. 2006 “Father. I am struck. all my attempts to figure everything out. Save from wrath and make me pure. And I'm hopeful that I still have many more days before my life's end. Could my zeal no respite know. April 15. at the end of all my striving. Prayer of Reflection As I reflect upon this final word of Jesus from the cross. Gracious Father. cleft for me.
my God. I have nothing to offer You but my trust in You to save me. Amen. So. Nothing in my hand I bring. and Thou alone. 2004 Devotional Study The First Word Father. The Second Word Truly I tell you. here is your son. with nothing in my hand but the cross. April 3. to believe in You.All for sin could not atone. Thou must save. into your hands I commend my spirit. for they do not know what they are doing. The First Word Posted at 11:08 p. come to Thee for dress. or I die. I commend my spirit to You today.m. Savior. until that day when I stand before You. like Jesus. Thou must save. Wash me. Naked. forgive them. dear God. today you will be with me in Paradise. It is finished. and Thou alone. Foul. to rely on You. My God. Helpless look to Thee for grace. to live for You. Simply to the cross I cling. I to the fountain fly. 2004 . The Third Word The Fourth Word The Fifth Word The Sixth Word The Seventh Word Father. on Saturday. why have you forsaken me? I am thirsty. Woman.
the rulers of the Jews – including both Jewish and Roman leaders – did not realize who Jesus really was. helps to answer this question. They did not intend to kill God’s Messiah. . “Father. or perhaps to the Roman soldiers. friends. “them” refers to the criminals. after speaking about the death of Jesus to a crowd of Jews in the temple." Picture from www.” (Luke 23:34) How striking that the first “word” of Jesus from the cross is a word of forgiveness! The Peruvian Christians who first established the order for the “Seven Last Words” surely knew what they were doing. they crucified Jesus there with the criminals. A parallel passage in Acts. .” (Luke 23:33-34). Here. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets. Peter says: “And now. for they do not know what they are doing. as did also your rulers.ebibleteacher. . but all who participated in his crucifixion.com. You can see why it was called "The Place of the Skull. also written by Luke.“Father. Jesus asks his Heavenly Father to forgive “them. not just the Roman soldiers. Moreover. I know that you acted in ignorance. Then Jesus said.” But whom does he mean? The immediate context doesn’t completely answer this question: “When they came to the place that is called The Skull. Grammatically. But does Jesus mean to include others within “them”? This is a picture of Golgotha. one on his right hand and one on his left. In other words. This passage from Acts helps us to understand that Jesus intended for his Father to forgive. including Pilate and Caiaphas. the hill where Jesus was crucified. what happened to Jesus was really part of God’s plan in the first place. that his Messiah would suffer” (Acts 3:17-18). forgive them. Peter explains. forgive them .
do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). if we take seriously the theological truth that our own sin put Jesus on the cross every bit as much as Pilate who condemned him or the solidiers who actually crucified him. If Jesus was willing to forgive those who crucified him. The result has been both a more vital faith in Christ and a much more joyful celebration of Easter. in that most carols are exuberant while most of the music for Holy Week is somber. Many English Bibles indicate that this verse does not appear in some of the oldest texts of the Gospel of Luke. . but it’s well worth buying for the future. may we be like Stephen. removed the verse. his cross is really all about? Furthermore. How inconsistent anti-Semitism is with the calling of Jesus to love others. the word of forgiveness. you can order the first CD I’m recommending online and have it delivered prior to Good Friday. I realize that. both in age and in Christ. genuine words of Christ. if Jesus was willing to die for us so that we might be forgiven. It’s rather like how Christmas carols enrich our celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet most scholars believe that these words are. If this is true. “Lord. in many cases. I’ve learned to set aside the week before Easter as a truly “holy” week. Of course whether this explanation of the textual oddity of Luke 23:34 is true or not. As I’ve grown. then shouldn’t we do as Scripture says. If you act quickly. There is a difference. whose final words before dying were. would we expect any less from him than forgiveness of those who mistreated and ultimately killed him? Isn’t that what. in the end. then we can rightly hear this prayer of Jesus as including us too. I had little appreciation for Holy Week. it is surely and sadly true that many Christians throughout the ages have been unwilling to forgive. As we take time this week to reflect upon the forgiveness Christ offers to each and every one of us through his sacrifice. even our enemies. A Suggestion for a Rich Experience of Holy Week When I was younger. I’d urge you to take time during Holy Week to listen to music that will expand your experience of Christ’s loving sacrifice. During the next week I’ll offer several musical recommendations. not to mention his first word from the cross. but not a time to go deeper with the Lord.Of course when we consider the whole ministry of Jesus. of course. but all Jews everywhere. may we not forget the call to imitate his forgiveness in our own lives. not only the Jews who actually killed Jesus. the first Christian martyr. it’s a sad commentary on the inability of Christians to follow their Lord by forgiving others. a time to have fun. Nevertheless. and forgive one another. Some have argued that early Christian copyists. as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). not wanting the perpetrators of Jesus’ crucifixion to be forgiven. Are there people in your life whom you need to forgive? Are you living with tense or broken relationships because of unforgiveness? As we seek to imitate Christ. One way to make Holy Week special is to listen to music that helps us focus on the meaning of Christ’s passion. nevertheless. you won’t be able to enjoy this music this year. It was my spring break from school.
choral ensemble. plenty is provided. This is a moving setting of the final sayings of Jesus.m. the age to come is prepared. The word “paradise” derives originally from Persian. and not merely executed. without the slightest doubt. According to Luke.” (Luke 23:43) Like the first word from the cross – “Father.” To this man Jesus replied. a city is built. Because this man was being crucified. I highly recommend it. Paradise would be an infinitely better . one of the rebels next to Jesus derided him. remember me when you come into your kingdom. the place of divine perfection. 2004 “Truly I tell you. but one of the “robbers” who plotted to rid Judea of Roman rule. forgive them” – the second word is also filled with grace. because it is for you that paradise is opened. “Truly I tell you. April 4. since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly. But. the Lord describes the future glory of “Ezra” and those like him in this way: But think of your own case. and small orchestra. Jesus addressed this word to one of the “criminals” being crucified next to him.“The Seven Last Words of Christ” (Music for the Lenten Season) features a performance in English of Les Sept paroles du Christ by Théodore Dubois. “Jesus. with a narrator.” Among Jews. goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand. the tree of life is planted. where it meant “garden. He was more of a first-century revolutionary than a mere thief. rest is appointed. and to a region of heaven where the righteous experience blessing after death. Then he turned to Jesus and said. today you will be with me in Paradise. on Sunday. today you will be with me in Paradise” (23:43). but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41). it’s likely that he was not just a lawbreaker. This is one of my favorite pieces of Holy Week music. (4 Ezra 8:51-52) We don’t know exactly what Jesus envisioned when he promised to the criminal: Today you will be with me in Paradise. In a first-century Jewish writing known as 4 Ezra. it came to refer both to the garden of Eden. for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds. and inquire concerning the glory of those who are like yourself. The Second Word Posted at 10:45 p. But the other saw Jesus with clear and compassionate eyes: “Do you not fear God. soloist.
even at Target. I’m not arguing for some sort of universalism here. In fact. How much we need to hear the word Jesus once spoke to a man who had no hope and no reason to expect mercy. He did not promise only that the crucified man would be in Paradise. serene place on earth. His request that Jesus remember him wasn’t so much a profession of faith as a cry of desperation. Most importantly. Moreover. but only pointing out the wideness of God’s mercy in Jesus’ response to the thief. Music for Holy Week You won’t be able to find most of the best music for Holy Week in your local record store. But the album I’m suggesting today is an exception. beyond this life. Picture the most gorgeous.about as close death. if that. It’s greater than all our sin. Yet Jesus’ response suggests that this was enough. I marvel sadly at how readily people limit God’s grace. Jesus’ promise to the robber is troubling to those who want to limit God’s grace in some way. and Wal-Mart. then we don’t have to fret the details. As a pastor. it will be glorious and gorgeous. You can find it just about everywhere. we will be with Christ. Even after putting our faith in Christ and confessing our sin. but this much we know: as you can get to paradise on earth. it would be the place where God’s shalom reigns. There is nothing in the gospels that tells us what the thief believed about Jesus. we continue to condemn ourselves mercilessly. a place of beauty and peace. we are often hardest on ourselves. The grace of Christ cannot be earned. If we know that. It’s highly unlikely that he “accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior” in a manner common among today’s Christians. Christians who have been forgiven everything can be harsh and unforgiving with others. We can be our own worst judge. but that he would be with Jesus in Paradise. We can’t be sure of most of the details concerning life after Ke'e Beach on the island of Kaua'i . Costco. we’ll be with Christ.place than Golgotha. . It’s faith the size of a mustard seed. It’s greater than our limitations. and you get a tiny peak of ultimate Paradise.
This is a fine observation and surely fits with everything else we know about Jesus. . Jesus said to his mother. The Third Word Posted at 10:00 p. At one point she said to me.” (John 19:26) Though most of the men who followed Jesus deserted him at the cross. “I’d give anything to change places with Dave. It mixes world instruments. such as “Mary Goes to Jesus. In the Gospel of John. 2004 “Woman. synthesizers and unusual percussion. If you haven’t seen the movie.John Debney’s soundtrack from The Passion of the Christ is an eerie. his mother (my grandmother) was still alive.m. Luke 23:49. The basic meaning of Jesus’ statement is clear. Earlier in his ministry they seemed to have been less than fully supportive of his ministry [see Mark 3:21]. John alone specifies that Mary the mother of Jesus was among the women who remained near him until the end. (We don’t know much about the relationship of Jesus and his natural siblings at this point. The writer of the gospel adds. John 19:25). in this case his mother.) Commentators throughout the ages have rightly noticed Jesus’ attention to the needs of others.” and to the beloved disciple. “And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (19:27). his female followers remained to observe his death.” believed traditionally to be John. No mother should ever have to see her son suffer like this. Mark 15:40-41. But for many years I have been struck by the thought of what Jesus’ mother must have experienced as she watched her son being crucified. Later. Her anguish over her son was palpable. Mary was standing next to “the disciple whom [Jesus] loved. and if this movie has helped you to grow in your devotion to Christ. voices. on Monday. evocative collection of music from the film. then this album will fertilize further growth. “Here is your mother” (19:26-27). I can only begin to imagine her pain. Observing these two. All four New Testament gospels mention this striking fact (Matt 27:55-56. here is your son. If you’ve seen the Passion. one of Jesus’ closest disciples and the source of the gospel that bears his name. He was entrusting care of his mother to one of his most intimate friends and followers. “Woman. He was making sure that she would be loved and cared for after Jesus’ death.” I expect Mary could have said similar words as she stood near the cross of Jesus. even in his hour of excruciating suffering. the album’s haunting tones will nevertheless provide an occasion for quiet reflection on the sacrifice of Christ. When my father was dying slowly from cancer. April 5.” to be especially moving. Jesus knew he could trust his beloved follower with an extremely important responsibility. here is your son. I have found certain tracks. Jesus’ brother James became one of the main leaders of the Christian church.
Mark 14:32-42). For example. indeed. Music for Holy Week . Mary’s strength and reserve seems to respect what her son and. while it points beyond to the majesty and mystery of God’s plan for salvation. Though her loving sorrow for her son is obvious. the Christ. have chosen. in Luke 2 when Simeon praised God upon seeing the baby Jesus. I found Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Mary in The Passion of the Christ to extremely moving. that Jesus is doing that for which he was born. she Mary the Mother of Jesus from The Passion of must not even if she could. and at one point she is able to do so. The gospels don’t tell us too much about her experience or faith at this time. “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel . partly because he didn’t overplay his hand in depicting Mary’s grief. But she also understands that she cannot rescue Jesus from his fate and that. She surely knew from the very beginning that Jesus was extraordinary and that God had something very special in store for him. he delivered a chilling prophecy to Mary. and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (2:34-35). she wants to run to him. in a profound sense. . As we reflect upon the meaning of Christ’s death this week. played by Maia Morgenstern Jesus is choosing to lay down his life of his own accord.Yet Mary might have understood that the death of her son was part of God’s mysterious plan. . Mary’s presence at the cross reminds us of the deeply human drama that is occurring. As a mother. And there were moments when she probably understood that Jesus’ destiny would not be an easy one. for him or for her. believing that this is the cup his Heavenly Father has given him to drink (John 10:18. Mary doesn’t weep and wail and carry on. She seems to know that something like this was coming. what his Heavenly Father.
our desperation. prayed in words that had been etched upon his soul through years of synagogue worship and personal reflection. Jesus. Christians and Jews throughout the ages have turned to the Psalms. In 1785 he wrote a series of choral interludes for a Holy Week service focusing on the seven last words of Christ. Given the experience of God’s people for centuries. in his moment of greatest anguish. The Fourth Word Posted at 10:00 p. April 6. on Tuesday. Later. but the string quartet version is a deeply moving collection of seven meditative pieces. my God. he made a choral version of The Seven Last Words.m. “My God. Through the fourth word This still from The Passion of the Christ demonstrates the physical suffering of Jesus. my God. my God. even our doubt. in this new context. I am not familiar with the choral piece. why have you forsaken me?” takes on startling new dimensions. 2004 “My God.) The question of the fourth word. Yet. Lasting 69 minutes. .Joseph Haydn. (Actually. Jesus isn’t simply a man crying out to God as he is being abused by others. he is also the divine Son of God crying out to God the Father. Yet we also find words to express our longing. it isn’t surprising that Jesus quotes from a Psalm as he is being crucified. along with introductory material. In these classic Hebrew prayers we find comfort for our troubled souls. His spiritual suffering on the cross was unspeakably more horrible even than this. the entire piece encourages quiet reflection on the meaning of the cross. was also a devout Catholic Christian. he does so twice. See “The Seventh Word” later this week. why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) In times of unbearable suffering. the great 18th century composer. By praying the Psalms we discover that the same Spirit who once inspired the psalm writers touches our hearts and helps us to connect to the heart of the living God. “My God. why have you forsaken me?” is a direct quotation from Psalm 22:1. Later still. he adapted the work for a string quartet.
and all my bones are out of joint. God is forsaking. and mysterious grace. He’s regarding his Son as if he were sin This is one of the greatest mysteries of the Bible. let alone explain it. “God forsaking God! Who can understand it?” Indeed! Here is the core of God’s marvelous. and not human. matchless. God is forsaking his Son in that he is allowing Jesus to bear the sin of the world. . God. God is not merely forsaking a man named Jesus. All who see me mock at me. of the universe. indeed. “Commit your cause to the LORD.from the cross we enter into the essence of Christ’s sacrifice. let him deliver -let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” (22:6-8) I am poured out like water. and despised by the people. (22:14) I can count all my bones. And I’m not the first to hit the limits of human comprehension here. they shake their heads. Martin Luther himself once said. including lines that foreshadow the crucifixion itself: But I am a worm. they make mouths at me. How is this possible? I can’t begin to fathom it. well. The fact that Jesus quoted from Psalm 22 offers a hint of hope in what is otherwise a discouraging scene. scorned by others. This Psalm contains some of the most desperate cries in all of the Psalter. They stare and gloat over me.
the word of deepest agony. in due time. 28) Though I would not pretend truly to know what Christ was thinking while he was dying on the cross. see John 19:24) Yet. but also his unbroken faith in his Heavenly Father? Did his use of Psalm 22 show his conviction that. . From you comes my praise in the great congregation . Psalm 22 ends with divine deliverance and dominion: For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted. “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). but heard when I cried to him. they trusted. you kept me safe on my mother’s breast (22:9) In fact.they divide my clothes among themselves. . he would be vindicated and God’s rule established over all creation? Does the fourth word. could Jesus have been confessing. we get his righteousness. and for my clothing they cast lots (22:18. For dominion belongs to the LORD. This reveals. (22:4) Yet it was you who took me from the womb. (22:24-25. He knew this psalm spoke of the vindication of the one who suffered and ended with a strong statement of God’s kingdom. he did not hide his face from me. and he rules over the nations. I wonder if his quotation of Psalm 22 meant to signal something beyond despair. what we can know for sure is this: Jesus was forsaken by his Father so that you and I might not be forsaken. Music for Holy Week . and you delivered them. we get the divine acceptance he deserved. In the fourth word. not only the love of the man Jesus. contain within it a tiny seed of Easter faith? No matter how we might answer this question. but also the love of God who was incarnate in Jesus. He takes our sin. not only his desperation. interwoven within this psalm are strong affirmations of confidence in God: In you our ancestors trusted. He takes the divine rejection we deserved.
m.” (John 19:28) At first glance this is one of the least profound of Jesus’ last “words” from the cross. The lyrics are in German. so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God. therefore. For many years it has been part of my own Holy Week tradition to listen to this deeply moving piece of music. but the descendants of Abraham. It’s one of the most auspicious of all of Bach’s compositions. This fact isn’t incidental. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect.” Matthew and Mark record. . Jesus had to be fully human in order to save humans from sin and death. Matthew Passion to bring you to the foot of the cross. the children share flesh and blood. Moreover. along with John. adding choral pieces that include theological and emotional responses to the narrative. 2004 “I am thirsty. The Letter to the Hebrews expands upon this point: Since. The thirst of Jesus reminds us that he was really experiencing the horrors of the cross. to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. but absolutely essential to the saving work of Christ. S. involving two choirs and almost three hours of music. The Fifth Word Posted at 10:10 p. that somebody offered Jesus some sour wine in a sponge. Bach’s St. If you can set aside three hours this week. of course. including extreme thirst.Perhaps one of the greatest pieces of music for Holy Week is J. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels. the sort of being who could be thirsty. that is. it reminds us that Jesus was fully human. he himself likewise shared the same things. (Heb 2:14-17) In a nutshell. After losing a large quantity of blood through his flogging and crucifixion. April 7. Matthew Passion. with translation) of Bach’s masterpiece and allow the St. the devil. and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. Jesus experienced extraordinary thirst. but they don’t mention Jesus’ simple statement of need “I am thirsty” (see Matt 27:48. Mark 15:34). so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death. on Wednesday. I’d urge you to take the libretto (lyric booklet. John records his implicit request for liquid: “I am thirsty. Bach takes Matthew’s text of Jesus’ passion and sets it to music.
the reality of Christ’s suffering on the cross. but also allows him to die in our place. he is able to help those who are being tested (2:18). throughout history Christians have often chosen one over the other. yet without sin (4:15) . on the other hand. spiritual Jesus (see The Apocalypse of Peter. But it’s part and parcel of our faith. it enables him to understand what it’s like to be human. “to seem”). then. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. the real. Later. nonphysical Jesus is actually “glad and laughing” while on the cross. If we deny the true humanity of Jesus. we don’t have one who can truly save us. In fact. The divine Christ only “seemed” to be human. embraced the deity of Jesus (or Christ. as they would often say) while denying his humanity. John of the Cross. One of the earliest Christian heresies. Orthodox Christians. This led Docetists to deny. among other things. According to this view. 81:3-25). 1951. this is a paradox and a mystery. Hebrews adds a similar thought: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are. have steadfastly refused to deny the full humanity of Jesus. No blood. Salvador Dali. no wounds. as Hebrews instructs us. Moreover. even as they have confessed his full deity. Christ of St. who mistake the physical body for the genuine. Yes. In one ancient Docetic document. His incarnation not only allows him to reveal God to us. A Docetic Christ. called “Docetism” (from the Greek verb dokein. his apparent crucifixion was taken seriously only by the unenlightened.The humanity of Jesus is hard to reconcile with his deity. The passage from Hebrews that I cited above concludes with this encouraging insight: Because he himself was tested by what he suffered.
I am thirsty – in body and soul. the very works that I am doing. It includes a collection of Passion and Holy Week themed music. Jesus said. “I am thirsty” (19:28). Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus mentions his calling to finish or complete the works his Father has given him: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. But there are other levels of meaning in the phrase “It is finished” besides the most obvious one. so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. What is finished? On a most obvious level. we come before God freely. “I am needy. The seventeen pieces. Thus Hebrews 4. April 8. He has suffered extreme physical horrors. are songs chanted by the outstanding Westminster Abbey Choir. 2004 “It is finished. crying out. Jesus’ suffering is finished. Thus he can sympathize with our weaknesses. Now.” Music for Holy Week Recently I purchased an album called Miserere: Music for the Holy Week Liturgy. Somebody standing nearby took a wine-drenched sponge and put it to Jesus’ lips. when we feel pain. Jesus’ passion is over. concludes: Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness.” (4:34) “But I have a testimony greater than John’s. I need forgiveness. and then he died. I need your help.m. featuring two different versions of the “Miserere mei. boldly. I’m no expert on the music of this period. on the verge of death. written in the 16th and 17th centuries. he said. (4:16) Because of Jesus. “It is finished” (19:30). Deus” (“Have mercy on me. The Sixth Word Posted at 10:00 p. but I find the tracks to be hauntingly beautiful and spiritually focusing. The works that the Father has given me to complete. on Thursday.” (5:36) . testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. not to mention the unimaginable horror of bearing human sin.” (John 19:30) In John’s telling of the passion. After drinking a bit of the wine. we cry out to One who knows what it’s like to be human. O God” – the complete Latin text of Psalm 51). I am afraid. after noting that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses. When we are weak.Jesus who felt genuine thirst while on the cross understands what it means to be human. when we struggle.
8:31-32. embodied that truth (1:14. that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. This painting. He loved his followers and gave them the commandment to love each other (13:34-35. 14:6). James Janknegt.” For example. indeed. 15:12-13) His greatest work of all was being crucified for the sake of the world. the one who perfectly revealed the glory of the Father (1:14. so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may . For more information about power.What are the works Jesus was sent to complete? As the Word of God Incarnate. consider these verses from John 3: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. He paints biblical themes with He did works of striking. that which Jesus described as “being lifted up. revealed his glory and led people to believe his teaching (John 2:11). so must the Son of Man be lifted up. he was the unique revealer. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. signs that this artist." is by the contemporary artist. contemporary images. see his website. "Father Forgive Us. He taught the truth of God and. 18).
because of what Jesus has completed. Indeed.have eternal life.” “Known by the Scars. Jesus used this language paradoxically to describe his being lifted up on the cross – about as far from obvious glory as a person could ever be (see 12:33). but in a popular idiom. Jesus said that he “will draw all people to [himself]” (12:32). Now. 2004 . So when Jesus cried. The penalty for human sin has been paid. April 9. The paradoxical truth of the cross is captured wonderfully in a song by Michael Card.” we realize that God’s great plan for salvation has come to fruition. Music for Holy Week Michael Card’s 2-CD album The Life tells the whole story of Jesus in 29 songs. And death rejoiced to hold Him. but that he had completed everything the Father had given him to do. Michael Card’s compositions probe the mystery of the Jesus’ passion. we can be completely whole. including: “Scandalon. For soon He would be free. the Son of Man is lifted up to share the glory of God (Daniel 7:13-14).” Like some of the classic songs I’ve recommended this week.m. on Friday. A sacrifice of love’s most sacred mystery. not only that his passion was over. “It is finished.” and “He Was Heard. Through this action.” “Why.” he meant. The gap between sinful humanity and a holy God has been bridged by the sinless Son of God who was fully God and fully human.” “Ride on to Die. For love must always have the victory. His death was life to me.” “God’s Own Fool.” “In the Garden.” “Traitor’s Look. “It is finished.” “Cross of Glory. The Seventh Word Posted at 9:35 p. Many of these are perfect for Holy Week reflection. As we hear the words. “Cross of Glory.” “Come to the Table.” Here is the chorus: Upon the cross of glory. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the In Daniel’s vision.
the fact that Jesus continues to address God as “Father” indicates his unwavering confidence in the One he has known so intimately and served so faithfully.” On the most obvious level Jesus is simply entrusting himself to God as he dies. even the God who has laid upon him the sin of the world. pierced on the cross. as he did with “My God. He’s saying. Yet we do so with a peculiar confidence. We can’t make eternal life happen. Throughout our lives we rely on all sorts of things. Along the way we trust teachers. lawyers. But. Jesus is not only entrusting his spirit to God. The hands of Jesus. They’re not only healing. for your name’s sake lead me and guide me. We can’t earn our redemption. my God. Incline your ear to me. why have you forsaken me?” This time Jesus prays the words of Psalm 31. in the end. the last thing Jesus says before dying is: “Father.“Father. By quoting from Psalm 31. like David in Psalm 31. do not let me ever be put to shame. Let me put this quotation in context: In you. for you are my refuge. Jesus is quoting from the Psalms. pilots. I seek refuge. (Ps 31:1-5) The original context for Jesus’ simple prayer “Into your hands I commend my spirit” was a strong affirmation of God’s faithfulness and redemption. presidents. O LORD. You are indeed my rock and my fortress. we put our ultimate trust in God. doctors. into your hands I commend my spirit. but wounded. in the mystery of the Trinity. into your hands I commend my spirit. we put our lives into the hands of God. Into your hands I commit my spirit. take me out of the net that is hidden for me. but vulnerable. once again. Into these hands we can trust ourselves completely. . O LORD. and. spouses. “My life and my death are in your hands. and like Jesus in Luke 23. God’s hands are not only strong.” (Luke 23:46) In Luke’s Gospel. but also affirming his ultimate trust in God. pastors. We know that. We realize we can’t save ourselves. ourselves. engineers. So. a strong fortress to save me. police officers. friends.” Yet more is happening in this “word” than appears on the surface because. faithful God. Moreover. rescue me speedily. you have redeemed me. are the very hands of God. We can’t defeat death. We begin life fully dependent on our parents. in your righteousness deliver me. of course. and in God alone. Be a rock of refuge for me.
. though I almost never listen to the whole album at once. Music for Holy Week My final suggestion for Holy Week music is an album that actually is appropriate for the whole season of Lent and even Easter. Paul’s features the heavenly choir of St. and four celebrative Easter anthems.knowing that they’ll always be there to catch us. I’ve owned this CD for several years and have enjoyed it thoroughly. including “This joyful Eastertide” by Charles Wood. singing four Lenten songs. Passiontide at St. Thereafter I enjoy the four others. one of my favorite Easter pieces. five songs that focus on the actual passion of Christ. Paul’s Cathedral in London. both in life and in death. Prior to Easter I focus on the first nine tracks.