Today, many Christians around the world will celebrate Ash Wednesday since signifies the beginning of Lent. I realize this practice isn’t universally accepted. However, it gives a good opportunity to talk about some of the things our Savior went through for us. As such, I will talk about what is commonly referred to as “The Seven Statements From The Cross.”
I’m still amazed that despite the pain, Jesus was able to utter these seven powerful statements while hanging on The Cross…the cross that He didn’t deserve but went there for each one of us
The intent is to learn how we can change our lives to look more like Christ. I hope the information helps you in your further study of our Lord and Savior.
It is important to remember that Jesus was (1) beaten, (2) scourged [the picture to the left, as horrible as it is, can only give you a small understanding of what Jesus went through] and (3) forced to carry His vessel of torture – the tree or crucifix. The cross was not some lacquered and beautifully even cut of prime wood. It they were more like scrap wood. The criminals would get their cross and lug it through the streets to their “death station.”
It is equally important to know the Romans made the criminals walk through the market place while carrying their crosses. This provided the onlookers, mostly Jews, with two things. First, it instilled fear into all who witnessed the event. The onlookers had no doubt in their mind what it meant to carry a cross. As 21st century Christians, the meaning may be a little lost on us. However, for those first century listeners and viewers, they knew what Jesus meant. It meant, “Dead man walking.” Jesus challenged us to take up our cross. I think it’s important for us as a modern-day Western Christian to keep in mind what it means. For us, we need to bear the cross of Christianity. We must bear the weight it carries with us. It means we might not be popular any longer. It means we should be distinguishable from the world, the casual onlooker who aren’t believers. That’s our cross. Second, it showed the Jews and everyone else that no one defied the Roman government. Further, the “dead man walking” would be headed to Golgotha (pictured below). Just seeing a place that looked like a skull would have to add more terror to them. The iron heel of the Roman Empire was on the neck of the oppressed Israelites. Little did they know that it was all a part of the plan. In our contemporary time, we are not oppressed. However, issues like gay marriages are forcing some of us to forget the cross. We accommodate, or show tolerance for ungodly things.
Jesus’ sacrifice provided us equal access to the Father. His death, burial and resurrection provided us with eternal salvation. We must be reminded to reflect on His sacrifices. We also must walk the faith. I can almost picture us walking with our figurative crosses through the street. The streets are our everyday walk. Our cross is our Christian lifestyle. I can see those who want to be with the world (Romans) speaking bad about us. However, “be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13 NASB).
Take time each week and think on what our Lord has done for us. As you read Scripture, put yourself inside the story. “What were these people thinking? How would I have reacted?” I also encourage you to reflect on what does the words of this 1st century Jewish teacher, prophet and carpenter (more so a construction worker) mean to me?
I pray your understanding grows exponentially.
Statement 1: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (see Luke 23:34).
Jesus was falsely imprisoned; lied on by His people and the religious institution; mocked by the Roman court, spat on; beaten by the Romans and abandoned by His friends (the Apostles) and disciples. What would you do in that situation? You’ve been treated worse than anyone should be treated. Your closest friends left you. You’re defenseless. You’ve been whipped with a tool of death. Each lash on your back takes pieces of your flesh from your body. (remember the second picture on this blog doesn’t even compare to what Jesus went through) You’re humiliated. Then you are forced to carry a tree for some distance. Now your torturers are casting lots to see who will get your garments!
Ok, you’ve had enough time to think about what you’d do? Jesus did the opposite of what we would do. He asked God to forgive them. Forgive them? What? He didn’t ask God to help Him. He did not ask God to send down a legion of angels. No, Jesus was saving people from themselves even as He hung from the cross. He asked for that they, his torturers and taunters, be forgiven! Only Jesus, our sinless sacrificial Savior, would do that. Remember, some of these folks could have been the people who, less than a day earlier, were saying, “Hosanna in the highest.” That definitely gives a different twist on the phrase, “What a difference a day makes.”
Look at the cross and the nails in that man’s feet. This is a picture of what our Lord went through. Well, not exactly since Scriptures says His bones weren’t broken. This picture on the right is a good illustration nonetheless. Jesus asked for forgiveness of His torturers. This week, see who you can forgive. Or, see who you need forgiveness from. Perhaps you can speak on forgiveness to someone. Blessings.