Tre Ore 3rd and 4th Last Words of Christ
Tre Ore Service
Jer. 15:10-11 Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth,
a man with whom the whole land strives and contends!
I have neither lent nor borrowed,
yet everyone curses me.
The LORD said,
"Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
surely I will make your enemies plead with you
in times of disaster and times of distress.
Mark 3:31-35 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
John 19:25-27 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
This account in John is unique in its description of the words of Jesus (above). John is intimately involved and therefore He would be more likely to record this aspect of Jesus’ death. This account reflects an important theological insight: the church has its origin at the cross and not just at the empty tomb. What happened at the cross reveals God’s design for the Church and should forever define the mission and life of the Church. These words establish this new community called the Church. A new kinship is constituted here, one transcending differences in language, subject to the sovereignty of Jesus, undivided by schism, and sustained by “living water” and the Spirit.
Jesus has been beaten severely, He has had spikes pounded through his wrists and feet, and hung to die…Yet He sees His mother and John standing below Him and He addresses this situation. He shows yet still more compassion as He has throughout His ministry. He is at the height of His own suffering and yet He shows provision for His mother’s care! Certainly, this incident implies the impact of our Christian faith. This is what church is all about. Mary and John are family and they are being prepared to be the church here at the foot of the cross. Our savior is showing us what church entails even as he hangs from the cross. Jesus is looking out for others even in the midst of His situation as we are to look after the needs of others no matter what our situation.
This is a theme for John. John has demonstrated this theme from the beginning of His narrative. He has used the metaphor of “kinship” to respond to the revelation in Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus’ name are empowered to become “children of God.” John then illustrates that Jesus did not die for the nation only, but to gather together all the “scattered children of God.” The formation of this new family at the cross provides a nucleus for the community of believers. As members of this community we are called to love, not only our immediate families but all people as Christ did. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred German pastor, called the German confessing church to care for their fellow man when he said, “Only those who cry for the Negroes in their drive for freedom and justice; only those who weep for the poor in the urban tenements and rural shacks of our land; only these who share in the sufferings of the victims of war and social strife, and the more incalculable hurts of the lonely, the despised, and forsaken of our society; only these have the right to raise their voices in praise to God in the hymns and prayers of the church. For they alone represent the church in its true essence as the suffering servant-people of God.” This is what the church is called to do and Jesus established this even as he hung from the cross.
This is what He told us throughout His ministry. At the Sermon on the Mount he told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But now He was showing us this love. He shows us by giving His life on the cross and with His words as He was suffering this painful death. Why does He do such a thing?...He was showing His love because of His deep concern for us! His great heart, love, and compassion motivated Him to give Himself for us. Martin Luther once said, “A human heart would need to be harder than stone, yes, harder than iron or steel not to be softened by this.” And what do we do in response? Is our whole being grateful every day of our lives? We would have to be an unfeeling wretch not to be grateful after truly examining this act of love, as we have throughout this Lenten season. After all, we show mountains of gratitude when someone goes out of their way for us in our daily lives, but are we grateful in a equal proportion for what Christ did on the cross for us. Talk about going out of His way! And even as He does this He shows compassion for those around Him…
This community…the church…is the fruit of his death; it will be the primary place of the divine life on earth. The divine life is characterized by love and therefore requires a community to express itself. The life of the community derives from Jesus' own giving of himself, and in turn such self-giving is to typify the community itself. Jesus' death is both a revelation of the love of God and an example of such self-giving love. Such love is only really possible when sin has been taken away, since the essence of sin is a false self-love that prevents one from sharing in the life of God, which is love…and sin can only be taken away through Jesus on the cross.
(Responsive Prayer) then Hymn 113
Tre Ore Service
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
"He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Hymn 119 (vs. 1-3)
I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
Fourth Penitential Psalm 51:1-14 (in service folder)
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
Hymn 111 (vs. 1-3)
"Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" These words are the only way we can peak into the mind of Jesus and begin to understand the pain He suffered spiritually.
It is not easy to truly grasp the great physical pain that He must have felt while enduring the whips and nails of the passion. But we do have much in the way of description in the Bible of this ordeal. We even have movies such as “The Passion,” and many others before it, giving us a visual depiction of this horrendous physical suffering. So, we do have a certain amount of understanding of His physical pain through biblical description and visual perspectives that we have seen. This physical pain, while we have never experienced anything like it I’m sure, can be compared with what we know through our own physical experiences. I have been snapped with a towel in the locker room and have even stepped on a nail. So, while I haven’t experienced what Jesus did I have points of reference to compare in my physical realm.
Even more difficult for us to grasp though, is the spiritual suffering that went on. Christ carried with Him to the cross all the sins of the world! He carried on His shoulders the guilt of every sin that had been committed from Adam and Eve to that day at Golgotha. All of these sins combined with every sin beyond then, all the way to the sin that we committed yesterday. And then every crime and murder that will be committed in the future of the world until He returns! This is very hard for us to identify with. We really have no comparable experience to relate this to. We have very little description of what He was feeling spiritually except for a few words.
I think each of us can understand the guilt that is felt when we commit a sin. We feel remorse over having made that mistake in our lives. Even that is not the understanding that Christ felt over any one sin. We are sinful and therefore even our repentance is tainted. He understood all aspects of the sin and the depth of the impact it had. He had a perfect understanding of each sin and therefore a perfect repentance of sin. We feel remorse through our limited understanding and our mind can’t help but think selfishly of our own salvation even when we ask for forgiveness… Christ was bearing the sin of the whole world throughout history and there was no one to comfort Him in His loneliness. He was “left”…so that His soul might bear man’s sin in their full and crushing weight and none of us has any idea what that must have been like for Him.
Yet there is no despair in this lamentable outcry. On the contrary, as Jesus nears the moment He Himself has chosen for His death, He faces His abandonment by God by crying out to God in trust. He calls out to His God when He cries out “My God, My God…” He cries out to the same Father-God that He has trusted in throughout His time on earth. We are reminded through Christ that “he who can call upon God has God with him…even in his utter loneliness.” He cries out with a loud voice, as one in command of His life and His death. He knows that He must do this and He knows that His death is not a loss of hope; it is the fulfillment of scripture! He was, in fact, enduring abandonment and, at the time of His unity with mankind in sin, He did feel the loneliness of that separation from God that sin brings. He was experiencing the utter desolation and darkness of the world’s sin.
We see this same understanding in the Psalmist when He offers his plea to God “who did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted…but heard when I cried to Him.” Both the psalmist and Jesus trust God to save, not by magically eliminating all pain and suffering, but by working beyond human knowing in and through pain and suffering. There was no answer to this cry but it was heard. The unspeakable sacrifice was felt by both Christ and the Father, a sacrifice that was necessary according to God’s purpose. And this sacrifice was accepted by both Jesus and the Father, and with Christ’s blood He obtained eternal redemption for all of mankind…For you and for me.
Hymn 113 (vs. 4)