Sunday, April 12, 2009

Standing at Attention

Before Jesus was nailed to a cross on Skull Hill, he was offered wine mixed with gall, a mild painkiller. However, he refused their generosity because He knew that several weeping disciples of his would need His undivided attention over the next several hours.
In Luke 23:27-29, the author tells us of a Christ who comforts when He should be comforted. Several women were following the Christ-turned-criminal, up Skull hill, weeping bitterly. “But Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children’” (v 28). Christ was never someone to feel sorry for Himself. Even now, when His fate was signed, sealed, and delivered, He encouraged the women to weep for themselves and the hard futures they would walk into, rather than for Him, who was walking in, one-step by painful step, into glory.
Luke 23:34 tells us that Jesus forgives His captors as he is hanging from the cross and the high priests laugh as they gamble for his tunic. “Father, forgive them . . . ” I could imagine that this is the first line to one of Jesus world famous parables, often labeled at people like the ones several meters away. I could imagine that instead of being taught the ultimate lesson, which was the point of crucifixion, that Christ would turn the tables on them yet again “. . . for they don’t have a clue what is going on.”
In Luke 23:43, Jesus expands the boundaries of grace even more by welcoming a renowned criminal to join Him in the last place he would expect to be. What these criminals were hanging for is debatable. But it was probably theft, murder or both. This man truly knew that Jesus was his last and only hope of doing anything good with his life. He was an impoverished man who spent his last dime on his last hope and hit the jackpot, for “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The next, but probably not the last, words Jesus utters from the cross are recorded in John 19:26-27. Here, He provides a way for His mother to continue to be cared for when He could not be the person to do so. Though His ministry was probably funded by several well-to-do women, Christ’s mother was probably not one of them. As it was the responsibility of the oldest son to provide a home for his aging mother after her husband died, Mary may not have been grieving for her Son. Rather, she may have been wondering what would happen to her when Joseph, who was probably nearing the age of retirement, finally passed on. “And from then on this disciple took her into his home.”
From the cross, Christ said many things. He comforted the weeping women, forgave the unforgivable, welcomed the criminal, and arranged a home for his mother. Even as He died, His words provided life for His hearers. How would the dying Christ provide life for you?

On Good Friday, we remember the Man who healed us by His scars.
On Good Friday we remember the Christ, who sacrificed His life so that we might gain ours.
On Good Friday, we remember the Redeemer who forgave, so that we might forgive.
On Good Friday, we remember the Word of Life who gave so we might receive.

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