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Jesus went to the Cross so that we, through his death and resurrection might have a personal relationship with God and that we might know its power in every area of our lives. When we speak of "the Cross", weíre not thinking of it in the purely physical sense of two rough pieces of wood, bolted together and suspended by its vertical section before being dropped into a hole in the ground. To the Christian, it is much more than that - "the Cross" is a "shorthand" expression meaning the death of Jesus. Itís Jesus stretched out between heaven and earth, suffering more than anyone has ever suffered, for you and me. The Cross is Jesus as our Saviour. There is no holier place that we can ever hope to come to - the Cross is the place "to where heavenís love and heavenís justice meet".
The Gospels contain a most wonderful commentary on the Cross in the words of Jesus himself, spoken from the Cross itself. Seven sayings are recorded: if there were more we donít know but surely itís significant that seven is Godís perfect number. It represents completeness and wholeness. As Jesus hung upon that Cross almost two thousand years ago, he made seven great statements, treasured by believers as the Seven Words from the Cross. They cover the basic needs of mankind. Letís meditate on them together as our Lordís testament to a world wrecked by sin, bowed down by needs of healing in body, mind and spirit. The Words from the Cross reveal Godís answer to our basic needs.
THE FIRST WORD
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
"Forgive them" said Jesus. Who, I wonder, was Jesus referring to? There were many groups of people around the Cross. Closest to him would have been the execution party, soldiers of the Roman garrison, coarsened by discipline and cruelty. They had the unspeakable task of nailing a human being to a cross, but perhaps they were the least guilty of all parties who were responsible for putting to death an innocent man - after all, they were under the strict instructions of the Roman Governor, and to fail to co-operate in the execution would have meant instant death for themselves. Yet they were involved - they crucified the Lord of glory.
As Jesus prayed his utterly unselfish prayer "Father, forgive them" his eyes would have taken in other groups: they were the teachers who hated him, the priests who bought him with silver, the traitor who sold him to them, the crowd who had cried "crucify him" at the farce of his trial, and in the distance was Pilate in his palace trying to salve his conscience by blaming somebody else for what was happening. But I like to think that Jesus was encompassing a wider body of people than those I have mentioned: there
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