Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Today

In America, most of christian people celebrate today as “Good Friday” in remembrance of Jesus’ Suffering and Death on the cross.

Seven Last Words from the Cross

The traditional order of the sayings is:
1.     Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
2.     Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
3.     John 19:26-27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
4.     Matthew 27:46: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
5.     John 19:28: I am thirsty.
6.     John 19:30: It is... finished.
7.     Luke 23:46: Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.

Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do".

This first saying of Jesus on the cross is traditionally called "The Word of Forgiveness".  It is interpreted as Jesus' prayer for forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him: the Roman soldiers, and apparently for all others who were involved in His crucifixion.

From the cross Jesus looked at the soldiers casting lots for His clothing, at the priests pointing to Him derisively, at the crowd yelling their insults. The evil in humanity was at its greatest height. While Jesus could have summoned legions of angels to bring vengeance on all of them, instead He pulled Himself up and, with all His strength, offered a prayer on behalf of those who mocked and crucified Him.

Today you will be with Me in paradise

Luke 23:43

And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you today you will be with Me in paradise".
This saying is traditionally called "The Word of Salvation".  According to Luke's Gospel, Jesus was crucified between two thieves (Dismas and Gestas, but not shown in the Gospels), one of whom supports Jesus' innocence and asks Him to remember him when He comes into His Kingdom. Jesus replies, "Truly, I say to you..." (ἀμήν λέγω σοί, amēn legō soi), followed with the only appearance of the word "Paradise" in the Gospels (παραδείσω, paradeisō, from the Persian pairidaeza "paradise garden").

Jesus, hanging on the cross, was still seeking to save those who were lost. This confessed thief did not know Scripture or understand theology, had not recited a creed nor joined a church or been baptized. He was in no position to do anything redemptive or to clean up his life. He simply turned to Jesus and asked, "Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom".

A seemingly simple change in punctuation in this saying has been the subject of doctrinal differences among Christian groups, given the lack of punctuation in the original Greek texts. Protestant Christians usually use a version which reads "Today you will be with me in Paradise".   This reading assumes a direct voyage to Heaven and has no implications of purgatory.  

On the other hand, Catholics have used a reading which emphasizes "I say to you today", leaving open the possibility that the statement was made today, but arrival in Heaven may be later.

Behold your son: behold your mother

John 19:26-27

Jesus saw His own mother, and the disciple standing near whom He loved (John), He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your Son". Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother". And from that hour, he(John) took His(Jesus) mother into his(John) family.

This statement is traditionally called “The Word of Relationship” and in it Jesus entrusts Mary, His mother, into the care of "the disciple whom Jesus loved".

Jesus looked down from the cross to see His mother standing nearby. As far as we know, only one of the twelve apostles was there at the foot of the cross: "the disciple whom Jesus loved," usually identified as John

Naked and in horrible pain, He thought not of Himself but was concerned for the well-being of His mother after His death. This shows Jesus' humanity and the depth of love He had for His mother and the disciple into whose care He entrusted her.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?

Matthew 27:46

Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Mark 15:34

And at the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"

It is the only saying that appears in more than one Gospel, and is a quote from King David in Psalm 22:1. This saying is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Other theologians understand the cry as that of one who was truly human and who felt forsaken. Put to death by His foes, very largely deserted by His friends, He may have felt also deserted by God.

The mystery of  Christ's Incarnation, "far beyond our power to fathom", is that "He Who died at Golgotha (Calvary) is One with the Father, that God was in Christ, and that at the same time He cried out to the Father".

I thirst

John 19:28

He said, "I thirst".

This statement is traditionally called "The Word of Distress" and is compared and contrasted with the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan Woman at the Well in John 4:4-26.

Jesus became dehydrated by the loss of blood and sweat. Having had nothing to eat or drink since the Last Supper the night before, He was painfully thirsty. John, like the other Gospels, says someone offered Jesus a drink of sour wine. Only John says this person placed a sponge dipped in wine on a hyssop branch and held it to Jesus' lips. Hyssop branches had figured significantly in the Old Testament and in the Book of Hebrews.

Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit

Luke 23:46

And speaking in a loud voice, Jesus said, "Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit".

From Psalm 31, this saying, which is an announcement and not a request, is traditionally called "The Word of Reunion" and is theologically interpreted as the proclamation of Jesus joining the God the Father in Heaven.

When darkness seems to prevail in life, it takes faith even to talk to God, even if it is to complain to Him. These last words of Jesus from the cross show His absolute trust in God the Father: "Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit". 

This has been termed a model of prayer for everyone when afraid, sick, or facing one's own death. It says in effect.

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