Words from the Cross…the Seven Last Words as they are known. They are phrases, really, each one an epitaph, when collated shaping a last will and testament. Father forgive them…Jesus, remember me… Woman, here is your son… My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?… I thirst… It is finished…Into your hands, I commend my spirit.
The first ‘word’ comes from Luke’s Gospel, 23:33-34: “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
They crucified Jesus there…somehow that simple phrase, heart-wrenching as it is, diminishes the brutality of the big screen, the revolting reality that had preceded this moment…not that the suffering was over…but it was the beginning of the end. This man, now nailed to a rough-hewn cross, speaks of forgiveness…for they do not know…they do not know that it is the Saviour of the world they crucify.
And for us, not just bystanders over 2000 years later but participants in these events, we still stumble over this act of free and extravagant love…this word, this act called forgiveness. While we may yet travel the rough road to understanding that God forgives us, our many sins and weaknesses, for we all sin and ‘fall short of the glory of God’, we also are bumper to bumper on the commuter route that calls us to forgive other people…for hurts both painfully real and those imagined; those in the distance past and those yet to be experienced. Living the new life is not easy! ”Put away all bitterness and wrath and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:31-5:1
Did Jesus know, with divine certainty, that the darkness would not overcome the light…that life on earth is but a chapter in a whole bookstore of best sellers? And do we truly know, as we stand gazing at the landscape from a unique post-resurrection perspective, that God’s promises are true? That we are forgiven? That we will come to life eternal, rejoicing in our Lord’s embrace? We know! We know by faith!
Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.
This, the power of the cross
Son of God, slain for us
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Power of the Cross
Keith & Kristyn Getty