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His Word form the Cross


THE FIRST WORD                 Luke 23:33-34      

When they came to the place called “The Skull”, they nailed Jesus to the cross there, and the two criminals, one on his  right and one on his left. Jesus said “Forgive them, Father! They do not know what they are doing.”

Meditation on the First Word

“They do not know what they are doing”, he said. They do not know?  How can that be? ‘They’. Who is “they”?

It is so easy to call others to account. It is easy to name and blame others; the Romans military, the fickle crowd Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas; they all played their part and conspired against Jesus, or simply followed orders to maintain the peace;and in doing so, keeping Jesus’ kingdom from infringing on theirs.

But are they the only ones who ever push away Jesus when his kingdom encroaches on our little kingdoms of comfort?

Where are we when others cry for justice?

Where are we when those disenfranchised by our order and our wealth call for compassion?

Where are we when the hungry and the lonely  ask us to share our prosperity, our security and our power?

Where are we when Christ is crucified among us?

Surely he should have raged at the sinners who nailed him to the tree.

Surely he should rage at us for the evil we do, the evil we do both knowing and unknowing.

Yet stunning compassion is there in the first words that he utters.

He intercedes instead of raging; he prays for us before the Father.

This is;

Compassion that called him into being in his mother’s womb

Compassion that compelled him to the cross

Compassion that brings incredible, unbelievable grace to sinners

Compassion that echoes through the centuries

to all who participate in the killing of Christ:

Compassion that cries out from the cross:

“Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”

Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE SECOND WORD         Luke 23:39-43  

One of the criminals hanging there threw insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one, however, rebuked him, saying: “Don’t you fear God? Here we are all under the same sentence. Ours, however, is only right, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” Jesus said to him, “I tell you this: Today you will be in Paradise with me.”

Meditation on The Second Word 

Can we immediately see ourselves in the first thief?

Full of anger – because we are not comfortable or secure in our own skin.

Full of impatience— because we believe God is not rescuing us from the evil and injustice we are experiencing?

Full of hate – because we suffer because of the wrongdoing of others?

How much do we want God to snap his fingers and make right what we have made wrong? How we wish he would act and remove our pain, grief and sorrow.

How easy it is to cry “save us” and to rail against God  when there is no magic cure, no miraculous recovery, no legions of angels, to take away pain and bring wholeness.

How easy it is so often to scorn the Messiah, to mock the goodness of the world and condemn the Light of the world because we are unwilling to face what part we have played in shame, condemnation and darkness?

Yet there is goodness. There is a cure for our broken spirit; a cure that does not promise magical solutions but promises that the pain and trouble we experience is not the end, that death which casts its shadow over us is not the end;

that when all this is over, when the suffering is finished, that the final word is not torture and defeat but life — life springing out of the ashes, life transformed and fulfilled in God’s presence—which He calls ‘Paradise’.

To the compassionate thief

To the one who could still recognize God himself in this dark suffering,

To the one who tried to comfort and protect that broken God-man,

To the one who sought this good — Comfort was given

“Today, you will be in paradise with me.”

 Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE THIRD WORD                    John 19:25-27  

 Standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s  sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; so he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time the disciple took her to live in his home.

Meditation on the Third Word 

Who can grasp the grief?

the grief of a mother watching her son suffer?

the grief of Mary watching him die?

And who can grasp the grief of the son?

The son who must see his mother mourn?

What gift can a man give his mother?

What can he offer when he is gone?

How can he help her?

Hold her? Comfort her? Honour her?

“Woman, here is your son”. Here is “the one whom I I love”, to love you, and for you to love. One who knows me. One who is my brother and who can speak of me. One Who can hold you, comfort you and honour you; One who shares your grief. “Here is your mother”. Here is one I love, for you to love, and to love you. The one who taught me, the one who fed me, the one who wiped away my tears the one who hugged me, the one who grieves with you.

Women, behold your son; son, behold your mother.

 Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE FOURTH WORD                 Mark 15:33-34        

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Elo-i, elo-i, lama sabach-thani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 Meditation on the Fourth Word 

Of all the agony of that tortuous day the lacerations of the scourging, the chafing of the thorns around his head, the convulsions of his tormented, dehydrated body, as he hung in the heat all the day,

nothing reaches the depth of this anguished cry of desolation “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus, who found his purpose and strength in the presence of God who was sustained by the immediacy of his relationship with his Father, and who endured all by the tangible power of God

always at work within him ; always a centre of vitality and peace, found himself totally alone on the cross.

Jesus, whose very being was God, found himself utterly,



cut off from all that gives life and breath

cut off from all that gives purpose and hope

cut off from the source of his being

cut off, even from himself, plumbing the depths of the human condition to walk in the place of the utter absence of God, in the place of sinners in the place of those who reject God.

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

In these words is the central mystery of the crucifixion which cannot be fully comprehended,

that there is no despair so deep or evil so overwhelming or place so far removed from joy, light, and love from the very heart of God

that God has not been before us, and where God cannot meet us and bring us home.

 Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE FIFTH WORD                  John 19:28   

     After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), “I thirst.”

Meditation on the Fifth Word

There is a kind of timelessness about hanging on a cross.

It is not a quiet death, that is over in an instant, in one glorious moment of martyrdom like being torn apart by lions.

A cross is as much an instrument of torture as it is a gallows from which to hang, and as the day wears on seconds stretch into minutes which stretch into hours until there comes a point when time can no longer be measured

except in the gradual weakening of the body and its ever more insistent demands for that substance which is so vital to life so foundational to all living things so basic to existence as we know it: — water.

Water to moisten a parched mouth

Water to free a swollen tongue

Water to open a rasping throat that cannot gasp enough air.

Water to keep hope alive to keep life alive just a few moments longer.

Water, to a crucified man, is life.

“O God, you are my  God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you as in a dry and weary land where no water is.”

A thirst for water is a thirst for life and a thirst for life is a thirst for God who promises streams in the desert mighty rivers in the dry land and living water to wash away every tear.

Here, at the end of it all those promises seem far away, – distant.

And yet Jesus – forsaken by God still utters those words fort all who thirst in all the deserts of the soul to the Father who hears the cry and announces hope for new life.

“I thirst.”

Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE SIXTH WORD                      John 19:29-30     

 A bowl was there, full of cheap wine mixed with vinegar, so a sponge was soaked in it, put on branch of hyssop and lifted up to his lips.  When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”;

Meditation on the Sixth Word

What a sigh of relief!

What a cry of deliverance, that finally, after seemingly endless pain and gasping torment, it is over at last.

The suffering is ended.

The ordeal is finished and nothing remains but the blessed peace of the absence of all sensation.

When all there is, is pain its ceasing is the greatest blessing of all even when its ceasing comes only with death.

But Jesus’ cry is more than just welcoming the ending of pain it is more than joy at the deliverance death brings.

He does not merely say, “it is over” he says, “it is accomplished, fulfilled, achieved”.

Jesus’ cry isn’t a cry of defeat and despair It is a cry of success and triumph – even at the moment of death – that the race has been run, that he has endured to the end

that the strife is overand the battle is won.

Jesus’ cry is a cry of relief to be sure but it is also a cry of victory:

“The work I came to do is complete”. there is nothing more to add.

“It is finished”

 Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.

THE SEVENTH WORD                   Luke 23:46   

Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Meditation on the Seventh Word 

It is the end, the very end, the end of the ordeal, the end of the suffering.

Jesus, alone on the cross, tortured, exhausted, abandoned by his friends, forsaken by God, gasps for a last breath and gathers the strength for one final cry.

Why would he choose to speak so close to the end?

Why would he muster the last energy he had to cry out with a loud voice?

Couldn’t God have heard his thoughts?

Unless God wasn’t the only one intended to hear. Unless his voice was pitched loud so that we too might hear this final dedication of his soul.

A dedication made despite the pain,

despite the mocking,

despite the agony,

despite the sense of horrible aloneness he felt.

A dedication made to God

before the resurrection,

before the victory of the kingdom,

before any assurance other than that

which faith could bring.

Jesus entrusts his spirit — his life —     and all that has given it meaning — to God in faith,

Even at the point of his own abandonment when the good seems so very far away he proclaims his faith in God, the darkness cannot overcome it.

“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit”

 Lord Jesus – you gave your life for us. You suffered and died that we might be made whole.
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