Sunday, March 24, 2013

Words from the Cross

In Life Group today we studied the words Jesus said while he was nailed to the cross, as recorded in the four canonical gospels. This was one of the ways I could have gone with the lesson material, which was more than enough to fill up two hours or more.

Without giving references, here are those words, in probable order they were spoken.

Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing.

I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

Here is your son. Here is your mother.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I thirst.

It is finished.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

We had a most interesting discussion on these. While we were doing this, we took time to discuss what the physical layout of Golgotha might have been on the day Jesus was executed. Between these statements we touched on the reactions of the various people around Jesus.

One discussion item was why did Jesus quote the opening of Psalm 22? Did God really forsake him? The most common interpretation of this is that Jesus was, at this time, bearing the sin of the world, and since God can't stand sin, God left Jesus for a time. Another interpretation is that God was there all the time, but in His suffering Jesus was unable to sense His presence. Another interpretation was that Jesus was simply letting his humanity show. He had never known sin, yet there he was dying for the sin of the world. That kind of emotional weight would tend to obscure ones spiritual vision.

When we discussed "I thirst," one man suggested maybe this wasn't in a physical sense, but a spiritual. Jesus was thirsting for the love of the Father, and to be reunited in close fellowship with Him.

When we discussed the forgiveness statement, we concluded that this wasn't meant just for the Roman soldiers who were carrying out Jesus' execution, but for everyone involved in his death. That would also include us, Christians today, who are sinners saved by grace.

It was a good class, easy to teach. And a good way to open Holy Week.

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