Soul Food for Friday: Seven Words from the Cross

On Good Friday, I can’t think of greater food for the soul for this day or any day than the 7 words Jesus speaks from the cross. And if you really want to feed your soul, recognize that the death He dies, He dies to not only feed your soul but to save it for now and all eternity.

As a Christ follower, Good Friday is the hinge point of history. Everything turns on Jesus  death. What we do to God is not good, but what God does for us, how Jesus dies for us, that is the Good in Good Friday.

We know that Jesus does this for our good, when you look at the words He says from the cross and what they mean for us today.

File:Crucifixion Hans Baldung Grien.jpg

Thanks to Hans Baldung [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” This word reveals His heart and His mission. He did not come to condemn, He came to save and He still comes into the hearts of those who will receive Him. I love this word. It’s my favorite of the seven. Forgiveness is the great gift God gives us. We don’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. We never could. And still He gives, and because He gives, we live.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” This word reveals His grace and His gift of salvation for all. A desperate criminal next to Jesus, gets it. He didn’t at first, if you read Matthew or Mark. But at some point, this guy’s heart is changed. Was it the word of forgiveness? Was it the insults Jesus took? Was it the reality death was not far away? He asks for Jesus to throw a crumb of remembrance and Jesus gives him an eternal feast in heaven.

3. “Woman, here is your son,” … “Here is your mother.” This word reveals His love and His care for His family. Jesus in overwhelming pain, doesn’t look for His relief but His mother’s. Simeon had said there would come a day when her soul would be pierced by a sword. That day has arrived. With this word I discovered how important it is when in pain to care for the family around you. Funerals are not for those who die, but to comfort those who are left. Reach out in love with Jesus’ love when you find others in pain. Your love won’t be enough, His love will.

4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This word reveals His pain and His price He paid for us. It’s the only word from the cross recorded by both Matthew and Mark. This word is also the first verse of Psalm 22. One method of Jewish interpretation of Scripture is that to quote one verse is to quote the whole Psalm. Want to go a little deeper in the Word this Good Friday? Read Psalm 22. (Read Isaiah 53, too.) You will think you are reading the Gospel accounts from Good Friday to Easter. The religious leaders gather to mock Jesus at the cross. Psalm 22 reveals Jesus will have the final word, and God’s word will be good.

5. “I am thirsty.” This word reveals His humanity and His hunger for God. If you read the Gospel accounts, Jesus turns down the offer of a drink when the crucifixion beginss. That drink had a narcotic in it, to ease the pain and lengthen the crucifixion, a method of dying by asphyxiation. You fought for every breath, pushing yourself up in pain. Longer crucifixions weren’t for the criminals, but for the crowds. A Roman reminder of this will happen to you if you do not follow Rome. Now near the end, Jesus seeks a drink. His next 2 words will be with a loud voice. Yet John also says this is to fulfill Scripture. Verses are used that point to looking to God for physical thirst and verses for spiritual thirst. So probably both. Jesus is God and Man hanging on the cross. His thirst is for His body and His spirit.

6. “It is finished.” This word reveals His payment and His victory. The Greek word tetelestai can mean accomplished, fulfilled and paid in full. His death will pay for our sins, and the payment will be complete. Tetelestai also refers to a cry of victory. Sin, death and the devil are going down. It is finished, not He is finished. Satan will think he has won this day, but Jesus knows His victory is here.

7. Father, into Your hand I commit My Spirit.” This word reveals His power and His passion. Jesus life is not taken from Him, He gives it up to His Father. He has the power over death, yours, mine, and His included. He has the passion to complete the mission, even if that means He dies, so that we live (and He too will live again!). This word can be our prayer as well. It is the prayer of wise leaders who commit their spirit, their lives and their leadership into God’s hands.

Jesus puts the Good in Good Friday. By the way, the one guy besides the criminal who gets it is a leader. Mark tells us that the centurion (the Roman soldier over a hundred) says at Jesus death, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

So which word is your favorite of the seven? And more importantly, have you grasped the day like the centurion?

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