Today is Good Friday. As is my usual practice, I spent the afternoon at church attending a service devoted to observing the Three Holy Hours. . .the three final hours of Jesus' life on earth as a human. Today's service, as per usual, provided some excellent observations and meditations on the day: the 7 last words of Jesus. I will humbly try to recreate some of my thoughts on those meditations.
"Woman, behold your son. . .behold your mother" This was not necesarrily the first of Jesus' last words, but as a mother, it feels important. Jesus is talking to his mother, Mary. And to the youngest beloved disciple, John. He tells Mary to behold John as her son and that John should behold Mary as his mother. John obeys Jesus and takes her into his home. This implies obediance to all God tells us to do.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Jesus asks God to forgive everyone who is mocking him, taunting him, forgetting God. He knows that forgiveness comes first and then a change can occur. He also knows that forgiveness does not mean that we forget. Hmmm. . .that could be a problem!
"Today, you will be with me in Paradise." Truly, does God ever say anything to us when we rant at him, scream at him? To set the scene, Jesus has been crucified and people are ranting, mocking, sneering at him. He's been beaten, scourged, and a crown of thorns on his head. He is naked with nails drvien through his wrists and ankles. He is in betwen two theives. One says to him " You're the Messiah, save yourself!" The other one, coming to his defense, says, "He has done nothing! He is not like us! We deserve this, he doesn't!" To everything that came before, Jesus was silent. To the last statement he says, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." We should remember this.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is where Jesus shows his humanity. Who among us have not had a moment of doubt where we feel bereft? Abandoned? Forsaken? Surely Jesus felt this 10 fold compared to what we meager humans ever feel and yet he only questioned it one time. And only for a moment.
"I thirst." Jesus has been betrayed and abandoned by his friends. He is hungry for companionship. Thirsty for friends. We all feel this at times. We feel alone. We feel afraid. We're thirsty for others who understand. And yet, God knows. He's been there.
"It is finished." What is "it"? Most of us have had an English professor who told us to cross out all "it" in our papers and then re-write them. But, what is "it"? Is it Jesus' life? But that continues because of the Resurrection! Is it the story? But, the story is not over! Hmmm. . .what is "it"?
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." He gave it all back. Can we do that?
7 times He speaks. And 7 times we are amazed at what He says.
Why is this night different from every other night?
Because we were slaves. And now we are no longer slaves.
Thanks be to God.