Summary: A Good Friday sermon, looking at the last 7 words of Jesus on the cross.
Good Friday - March 25, 2016 - Jesus Wasn’t Lost for Words - Scripture: Various Gospel Accounts
What do you do when you’re lost for words?
This is Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, England. These are photographs before World War 2. Nice, big church.
This is the same church after it was bombed by Hitler during air raids in about 1940. Quite different. Very sad.
Coventry Cathedral is like life. Part beautiful, part ruins. Promising beginnings, and then hardship, pain and evil do their thing.
Some people like to focus only on the beautiful. Life is beautiful they like to say. But then when life gets ugly, they are lost for words.
When tragic, terrible things happen, the bubble bursts. And then what is left?
Some seem to focus only on the hardship of life. The ruins. Loss, suffering, pain, aloneness.
But then they see a newborn child, or a beautiful Spring flower, or a breathtaking sunset, and they are lost for words.
What do you do when you’re lost for words? When something amazingly beautiful, or something horribly tragic happens. What do you do?
The problem with words is that they fail us. Words sometimes don’t really work.
We think of Good Friday, and then we think of the Passion of Jesus, the suffering of Christ. We describe it that way, but it just doesn’t cut it.
Almighty God. Creator of everything. Incarnate. Enfleshed. God with human skin on. Exhausted. Beaten, Bruised. Abused. Humiliated, shamed, mocked, ridiculed.
Hands nailed. Feet pierced. Starved, parched. Thirsty. So very thirsty. There are no words. There are no words, really.
And yet Jesus found words. In His agony, as life drained from His body, He found words. But Jesus.
He found words. And His words live even up to this very day, this very second.
The First Word: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)
His first words uttered on the cross were a simplified expression of why He came in the first place.
He prays for the forgiveness of the people who, with intent and malice, were killing him in the moment. He doesn’t imply they are innocent.
He’s saying they have no clue what is really happening here as He hangs on the cross.
His prayer was for everyone involved in his murder: the crowd who celebrated His arrival on Palm Sunday and then turned against Him, crying out: “Crucify Him!” to Pilate, who had the power to release Him or not.
So He prays here for the common inhabitant of the city of Jerusalem, and He prays for those who had come to the Holy City on a pilgrimage.
He prays for Pilate who opened the door legally to His death.
He prays for the Roman soldiers who mocked Him, (“Hail, king of the Jews!”), spit on Him, made jest of His Kingship, who crammed thorns (mimic) in the shape of a crown on His brow.
He prays for the religious leaders who stand around (mimic pointing) mocking Him:
42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
I He prays for you and me here as well.
Even though we see Jesus and His humanity bared in weakness for us on this bitter, ugly day of Good Friday, we can’t forget that He is the Son of God who has chosen this path for Himself.
And as God-in-the-flesh, Jesus knows in His divinity all for whom He died.
That means on the cross, He knows you.He knows your life, your hurts, your pain, your mistakes, your sins, your regrets, your fears.
And for all, Jesus prays: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”.
He prays for those who sin in ignorance.
“The idea that this terrible thing was done in ignorance runs through the New Testament. Peter said to the people in after days, "I know that you acted in ignorance." (Ac.3:17.) Paul said that they crucified Jesus because they did not know him. (Ac.13:27.)
“Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor and Stoic saint, used to say to himself every morning, "Today you will meet all kinds of unpleasant people; they will hurt you, and injure you, and insult you; but you cannot live like that; you know better, for you are a man in whom the spirit of God dwells."”
Others may have in their hearts the unforgiving spirit, others may sin in ignorance; but we know better. We are (men and women who belong to Jesus Christ); and (so) we must forgive as He forgave” (William Barclay).