The worst was yet to come.
Death by crucifixion is an especially painful and terrible death. It was common in Roman times for crucified men in good health to hang dying on a cross sometimes for days, yet Scripture records that Jesus died within six hours. Even if He only suffered normal human pain in this ordeal it would have been incredibly severe.
All this pain, however, was but the prelude to His real suffering, which involved being cut off from the Father's love and presence and consigned to carry our sins out of the universe, to hell as it were, like the scapegoat sacrifice of Israel of which He, Christ, is the antitype.
The Scripture records the seven last words Jesus spoke while on the cross. It was during this time that the sins of all mankind were laid upon Him as the Father turned His face away from His beloved Son.
The Seven Last Words of Jesus
1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
2. "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
3. "Woman, behold thy son...Behold thy mother." (John 19:26-27)
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)
5. "I thirst." (John 19:28)
6. "It is consummated." (John 19:30)
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46)
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
As Jesus spoke these words, h e looked down from the cross at the people who had scourged h im, beaten h im, spat upon h im, and shouted for h im to die. But Jesus knew that his Father's love included them, too. To the Father, we are all His children, created in the image of God. Did they know that Jesus on the cross was the s on of God?
Dear Lord Jesus, may we graciously forgive those who have insulted us. May we reach out to all who hate us, just as you did on the cross, when you spoke these words "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing."
"Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise."
Here is the repentant thief, handing on the cross next to Jesus. He could have said nothing. He could have had the same thoughts that prevailed in the crowds milling about at Golgotha. But the thief knew he had sinned, and he had faith. He asked Jesus to forgive him, thusly: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Lk. 23:42)
May we have the presence of mind, when we breathe our last, to ask Jesus to forgive us, and to take us into His Kingdom.
"Woman, behold thy son ... Behold thy mother."
Jesus, realizing that the end is near, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, and St. John, standing at the foot of the cross, tells his mother "behold thy son..." In this instance, Jesus gives all of us a legacy, we are His heirs, and Mary is our Mother. That is why we love Mary so much. And Jesus told the Son, the disciple, in other words, you and I - that now we have a Mother, Mary. And we ask Mary, who is closest to her Son in Heaven, to intercede with Him on our behalf. Mary, Our Mother, Queen of All. So we are no longer orphans... we have a Heavenly family of which we all are a part.
"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
Jesus feels this emptiness, this loneliness, as h e is waiting to die. He feels unloved, forgotten, hated, defiled.
Dear Jesus, never allow us to be so cut off from your love that we feel forgotten. When we dishonor God through sin, we often feel forsaken, and when we continue not to love Jesus, He will feel forgotten and unloved. The Father has given us great love, indescribable love, when we were created in God's image. He knows each one of us personally. So we are never forsaken or forgotten.
Jesus wasn't really thirsting for water, as much as h e was thirsting for our love. When we say "Lord, I love you," let this not be just words, but may our actions, our love for our sisters and brothers, show this love for Him who redeemed us by his Cross.
"It is consumated"
It is done. It is over. Jesus finished what h e came to the world to accomplish, to redeem us from our sins by his Crucifixion. "Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses Himself with a sovereign freedom by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh."
"Father into thy hands I commend my spirit."
Jesus places all that he has into the Hands of God. His Body is buried, to arise from the dead three days later. His Soul ascends directly into Heaven, into the Hands of the Father. We pray that when it is our time to leave this earth, that our soul will also go to Heaven, as in our last breath, we say, Lord it is finished, I am now yours all the way.
Despite our outward circumstances and the downward spiral of moral, economic, political, and social conditions over the face of the earth, the "Good News" is that evil has already been dethroned and its power over mankind and nature broken. The new creation is as inevitable as springtime's greening and blossoming. The loving heart of God our Father longs for us to accept His mercy, His forgiveness and mercy. He has gone to infinite lengths to make provision for us in the cosmic sacrifice of the Son of His love.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." (John 3:16-21
Jesus, on this Good Friday I join with the saints in heaven to mourn what my sin did to you, but also to rejoice in what your love did for me. May this litany be in my heart today: Cross of Jesus, purify me. Blood of Jesus, cleanse me. Wounds of Jesus, heal me. Love of Jesus, free me. Mercy of Jesus, forgive me.
The following video, Lead Me to the Cross - Hillsong United (All of the Above), courtesy of You Tube .