To prepare for celebration of the Resurrection, we must first witness the agony of the cross. Crucifixion is a most torturous form of execution. It may last several hours or several days. The body’s systems shut down and the condemned man’s lungs fill with fluid. In effect, he drowns. As he pulls against the spikes in his flesh, trying to lift his body just enough to gulp another breath, Jesus uses his last energies to make seven bold declarations.
Standing at the foot of the cross with his most devoted follower, John, and his mother, Mary, we watch as Jesus pours out his life. We listen for clues to his future – and ours – as the Lord of all creation bows to his Father’s will on our behalf.
Use these devotionals once a day during Holy Week, or as an hour’s contemplation on Good Friday.
“Father forgive them,”
Read John 19:17-24, Luke 23:32-34
It’s brazen. The soldiers who beat Jesus then stripped him and nailed him to the beam. They raised the cross and let it drop into the hole that held it up, letting Jesus’ full weight pull against the severed flesh where the great nails affixed him. Now they have the nerve, stooping to the ground before that very cross, to gamble for the only nice thing Jesus had on earth, his seamless robe.
And yet, their brazen offense, to kill a man and rob him of his clothes as payment, is not the most heinous crime Jesus suffered that day. He had laid on his back all the sins of all people of all time. And still, he says, Forgive them.
Who else could offer such a word? Only the one who is offended has the right to forgive the offender. Only he could extend grace to the one who sins against him. Jesus’ desire is always that we accept his forgiveness and live in his grace.
PRAY Lord, I, too, am responsible for your death. Help me to live in gratitude for your forgiveness.