Today is the fourth in a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.
Today you will be with me in paradise.
When the thief on the right of Jesus’ cross said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Jesus responded with comforting words that assure the thief on the right that he will be with Christ that day in heaven. This statement from Christ reminds us that a place awaits us in heaven on the day that we die and it awaits us even now because Christ has died on the cross for us to forgive our sins. This scene reminds us that Jesus’ love and forgiveness extend to the most sinful—even to a thief who was sentenced to death, deservedly so, as the thief himself mentions to the other thief on the cross. They justly deserved punishment, he said. So we justly deserve punishment, but Jesus forgives us.
Today is the third in a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
This plea from Jesus reveals that Jesus truly was alone on the cross. He was abandoned by the Father as well as many of his disciples and followers. This cry shows the pure anguish and pain Jesus endured on the cross. The words come from a psalm which reveals that Jesus was experiencing very human emotions. Psalm 22, from which this comes, ends with very joyous words, which helps us to remember that this sad time will eventually end with everlasting joy. The pronoun my before the word God and the repetition of these words are a way to show the closeness that Jesus had with his Father. The Father is his. The Father is our Father as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
Today is the second in a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.
Jesus was thirsty, which reminds us that he is human with very human needs right up to the very end. The need for water reminds us of our need for the waters of Holy Baptism. We need the reminders of water and the Spirit. We are washed clean of our sins every day through water and the Word. We are reminded that Jesus told the woman at the well that he is the Living Water that will never run dry. Jesus is taking on our thirst for everlasting water so that we do not need to be thirsty spiritually again. Jesus’ human thirst for water was not satisfied well—vinegar on a sponge—but his death would satisfy the spiritual thirst of us all forever. To make that clear, the Bible records that after Jesus died, a soldier cut Jesus’ side with a spear, and blood and water poured out.
Today marks the beginning of a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
When Jesus prays this prayer on the cross, he is looking
upon those who were crucifying him. This is a reminder to us that we are to
forgive others even while they are sinning against us. Our forgiveness should
be immediate, free and full, not something we wait to do until those who sin
against us are remorseful and repent. Our forgiveness also should not be
limited to only minor infractions but for the most major injustices.
When the disciples were with Jesus on the boat and a storm
blew in, the disciples turned immediately to Jesus. But Jesus was asleep. “Save
us,” they pleaded. But Jesus calmly said, “O you of little faith,” and quietly
said to the wind and the waves and the rain, “Be still.” And immediately they
were still and the disciples were astonished: “Who is this man that even the
wind and the sea obey them him?”
This story is very much like our lives. We are very much at
peace in the boat of our lives with Jesus asleep inside. Then when a storm
comes along and rocks the boat of our lives, we panic and we rouse Jesus from
slumber, begging him to save us. Jesus, without much fanfare, stills the storm
in our lives and renews faith in us. Peace returns to our hearts and Jesus
remains to dwell by our sides.
The boat of our lives continues to sail until it reaches the
shore of heaven, where we will dwell in perfect harmony in blessed union with
Christ and our fellow lifemates giving praise to our God who welcomes us to the
eternal banks of glory in paradise.
The storms that come along can be all sorts of things. They
can be physical upheavals like sickness and disease, chronic illness or pain.
They can be earthly like rainstorms, hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes or
other disasters. They can be spiritual turmoil like lack of faith and trust., a
loss of reliance on prayer and devotions and a turning away from Scripture for
help and strength.
When Jesus tells the wind and waves, “Be still,” he is telling us too, to be still. We are not to get anxious or panic when things start going wrong. The arrival of trouble means that we need to look to God and know that he is who he says he is. “Be still and know that he is God,” Psalm 46:10 says. In our stillness, we know and remember that God is trustworthy, faithful, strong, confident, courageous, comforting, loving, peaceful and caring. These attributes will never change, though the world continues to change all around us. The trouble and turmoil of this world obey the voice of the Lord. We should never think that trouble and turmoil can overcome the power of God in our lives.
When we think of Jesus sleeping in the boat during the
storm, we often think he is not caring or paying attention to our troubles and
turmoil. But the truth is that he is asleep because he is not worried about the
trouble and turmoil. He is taking care of them.
Mary and Martha of Bethany were good friends of Jesus. They
were such good friends of his that they had him over for dinner one night.
Think of how many people may have wanted to have Jesus over for dinner at the
time, but Jesus chose to spend a meal with Mary and Martha. Think, too, of the
meals you have shared with friends. Think of the good times, the laughter, the
banter, the witty conversations, the good food. That’s what Mary and Martha
were looking forward to in their time with Jesus.
But think too of how nervous you might be if you knew Jesus
was coming over for dinner at your house. You would want everything just right
and you would want to make sure the house was clean and the meal was cooked to
perfection. This is more what Martha was going through in her preparations for
Jesus’ arrival. Jesus noticed that this was how Martha was approaching things.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and nervous about many things,” Jesus said. Jesus
was scolding Martha. And he is scolding us in the process. He does not want us
to be worried and nervous about anything, let alone many things. The truth,
though, is that we in our sinful human condition are worriers by nature and
nervous by default. Our task is to break out of these sinful habits and do what
Christ’s disciples should do.
Mary apparently did what was desired. She sat at Jesus’ feet
and listened to him. And Jesus praised her for it. He called Mary’s actions
“the one thing needful.” Jesus is requesting of us that these be our actions as
well. How do we sit at Jesus’ feet and
listen to him? We come to him humbly and lowly, and we honor him. That is
mirroring the posture of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Reading the Bible and engaging
in prayer are ways to listen to Jesus.
Mary is a model for us of how to greet Jesus in our own
homes. She is happy that he is with her, just as we should be. Jesus truly is
with us in our homes each day and he dines with us at every meal. When we open
the pages of the Bible, it is as if we are opening the doors of our home to
Jesus. And when we fold our hands in prayer before each meal, it is as if we
are pulling up a chair at our tables for him. His presence with us in our homes
is a blessing we should never take for granted, but should be excited about. All
that we do in our homes should be a gift for the Guest in our home, our good