Jesus’ First Last Word
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:33-34)
Monday, Holy Week
O God, who in the death of your beloved Son endured for our sake the agony of the cross; grant to us we pray, such a measure of your Spirit that we may not shrink from loss or pain in your service but may do all we can with your aid to help one another and to foster well-being on earth. Forbid that we should complain of burdens and ills that are not worthy to be compared with the sufferings of Christ or the wounds of many among his faithful disciples. Save us from weakness and futility of self-pity, and from faithless worry and anxiety. Give us grace to forget ourselves in concern for others. Teach us to find healing for our hurt in unwearied efforts to heal the hurt of the world. Fill us with your own compassion that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort we are comforted with in you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
We don’t know what we are doing.
This generation has never been under a stay-at-home quarantine order before in order to keep a deadly virus at bay. The temptation in this moment is to blame this or that leader, or express frustration over short-sighted people in the past, or to lash out in fear at people who are doing their best to manage this unmanageable situation. Does this help or hurt? You be the judge.
None of us expected this. Yet here we are. None of us planned for this. Yet here we go. None of us ever thought such a scenario could have presented itself in the way it has. Yet we are seeing things unfold that have never unfolded before.
This is new.
Just like the first Holy Week. There were lots of deaths that happened by crucifixions in the Roman world. Criminals, murderers, thieves, and traitors were often nailed to a piece of wood sticking up from the ground and left to die. They were placed like sign posts on busy roads to warn others from making the same mistakes. Never before in the history of the planet, however, was a man placed upon a cross who was completely innocent; someone who was totally perfect in every way. Never before and never again would the Author of Life, the Creator of All, the God of the Universe fall under the death penalty for a crime that He never committed, nor would commit. What injustice! It is unthinkable that such a deed was done!
Yet sweet injustice it is. Our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Son of God, offered himself in mercy for fallen humanity. He took upon himself all the injustices of the world, all the crimes, misdemeanors, felonies, idolatries, immoralities, and mistakes, and he paid for them in full by his innocent suffering and death, and with his holy, precious blood. The Son of God was given in exchange for you!
“There is no forgiveness apart from the shedding of blood.” So say the Rules of Justice in God’s Good Book. On the cross Jesus has said to you and me, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
We truly don’t.
I invite you to meditate on this first last word of Jesus, and if you have some time to kill(!), meditate on Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (The Suffering Servant Song).
Walking with you in the journey to the cross,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
P.S. Hope you and your family are faring well. If you want to talk, call me or respond to this email. I will get your message and we can chat. We are in this together. We have help available if there are needs. Please let us know.