Entering Holy Week: The Seven Last Words of Jesus (Bonus edition) - First Words
A Saturday surprise...with Holy Week beginning tomorrow with Palm/Passion Sunday, I thought for the focus of this Holy Week I wanted to take a look at the Seven Last Words of Jesus, which requires two extra posts! So you get a Saturday and Sunday devotion this weekend!
1) Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." - Luke 22:34
In the Gospel of Luke we have a Jesus who, perhaps even more than in the other gospels, cares for the outcast, heals the wounded, and forgives what some might see as unforgivable. In this moment - after suffering violence and humiliation as he is put on a cross to suffer a death steeped in indignity - it should perhaps not be surprising that his first words are words of forgiveness.
It is a remarkable moment that initiates the world into the work of the cross itself. Forgiveness is there for all to see in the cross of Christ. Even when forgiveness is not asked for. "They do not know what they are doing."
How often is that true? How often do I pay attention to my actions and see how their consequences take me down a path turned away from God's intentions for me? How often do I insist that I am right; assert my control; feel the strong desire to prove someone wrong, and so completely miss how far off the mark that puts me?
Where it doesn't put me, however, is distant from God. On the cross - especially in forgiving his tormentors - Jesus shows that God is near even when we are at our worst. God is reaching out always, pulling us in, loving and forgiving and hoping that we will see that forgiveness and live into the freedom it gives.
Gentle Jesus, in your worst moment you forgave those who tormented you. Let your cross be a reminder to me always to live into the forgiveness you so freely give and let that forgiveness set me free from the bonds of my sin. Amen