My church had its Good Friday service last night. Pastor Nelson asked seven of the deacons and coworkers and pastors to speak a little about Jesus’ last words. Each person was assigned one phrase or sentence and had to speak about the phrase and follow up with a prayer.
1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Henry did this one. He talked about the irony of us desperately needing a Savior yet crucifying the one who was desperately trying to save us. Yet He asked for forgiveness for them — and for us. Henry lugged his broken chair all the way to the stage just to sit on it for 5 minutes.
2. “You shall be with me in paradise.” Joshua did this one. He talked about the criminals on the cross. They knew they’d done wrong and one knew that He had done nothing wrong. One was forgiven.
3. “Dear woman, here is your son.” My dad did this one. He described the pain Christ must have felt on the cross. And how horrible it was for his mother to watch her son die in such a shameful way. As if he were a common criminal. My dad said that this wasn’t as hard as a mother watching her son die of cancer in a hospital. It must have been hard for Mary to watch her son die as a criminal even though he was sinless. This was the most emotionally rendered part.
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Deacon Hu. This time he stated that this was a different kind of pain in that it was emotional. The physical pain he felt in comparison was nothing compared to the pain of total separation from God. We have lived separated from God… but from the moment he was born he was in tune with God and what God wanted him to do. It wasn’t something he had known before.
5. “I am thirsty.” Vivian did this one. She stated that he must have been extremely thirsty with the loss of blood and sweat. Instead the people gave him sour wine. She said that this made her think about herself turning to things for temporary satisfaction. At the end she found herself empty. We need Living Water and that is what only He can provide. How would you respond? What does this tell you about Jesus and yourself?
6. “It is finished.” Minister Cory spoke about this. Hers was the shortest. She looked at the dictionary for the definition of the word “finished” and found out that it meant “perfected, completed in all details.” Cory thinks that if nothing else, he wanted them to remember those words. There’s nothing more that we need to earn our salvation. He’s completed all the details.
It is finished, and we are free.
7. “Father, I entrust my Spirit into your hands.” Pastor Nelson did the conclusion. He told us that these words were from the Psalms. To be exact, Psalm 31. People knew the psalms. They would know this one and know to what he referred to. Jesus put his life into God’s hands. Are we going to do that?
It was interesting to see all the different takes and styles done. I felt that it breathed new life into the story. Henry and the chair were dramatic. Joshua was soft and gentle. My dad was emotional AND dramatic. Deacon Hu was pretty straightforward and calm. Vivian was sweet and gentle. Minister Cory made it short and straightforward. Pastor Nelson was more theological in nature and followed up with a challenge to respond.
All in all, a good way to remember…
It is finished, and we are free.