Dying Words Are Not Wasted

Remembering the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday makes the reality of his resurrection even sweeter on Easter Sunday. As Pastor Chris Icenogle of Brookdale Covenant Church reminded us tonight: If it is true that “truth sits on the lips of dying men” (Matthew Arnold), then how much more significant are the last words of Jesus.

From the cross, Jesus said:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus leaves us with words of mercy and compassion.

“Woman, here is your son. Son, here is your mother.” Even up until the end, Jesus could be trusted to take care of his mother, which means He can be trusted to take care of us.

“Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus again gives the promise of eternal life.

“My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?” This is the moment when Jesus, who was sinless, expresses his agony in that he became sin for us.

“I am thirsty.” God, in Jesus Christ, was fully human. This reminds us that he knows what it means to be thirsty and to feel pain. Therefore, he can have compassion towards us.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Even Jesus, being God in flesh, prays during his final hours. What a great reminder for us to remember the significance of prayer.

“It is finished.” Jesus wasn’t proclaiming defeat but triumph! Sin and death did not win. The resurrection of Christ overcame the power of sin and death!

John 19:26-30
Luke 23:34, 43 and 46
Matthew 27:46

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Experiencing Easter In New Ways

In my job, I meet with people from all denominations and I am learning a lot from their spiritual stories and experiences.  Their stories inspired me  last year to attend Easter services with three different denominational churches.  By doing this, I learned about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in a new and refreshing way. I attended a Catholic Church, my daughter’s Covenant Church and then my own Free Church on Sunday morning. 

Ever since I attended the Catholic school in third and fourth grade (see part 2 of “My Story”), I have been intrigued by the beautiful depictions on the wall of the stations of the cross.  Therefore, I have always wanted to go through a ceremony with the stations of the cross.  I found an opportunity to do that the Friday before Easter last year.  I love the reverence that the Catholic church shows toward God and the opportunity to kneel while I prayed in church.  During the stations of the cross, you pray through the story of the crucifixion.  Because the story was told in a new format, I was able to pick up on details I did not pay attention to in the past.  The experience also inspired me go back to my Bible to look up details; such as, where did Veronica come from in the sixth station of the cross.

That next week, I was sitting at the Covenant church on Good Friday.  They had a cross beam laying on the altar along with two-inch nails that looked like miniature spikes.  At one point in the service, the Pastor sat down and people went up to the altar, picked up the little spikes and started pounding them into the beam.  I was shocked.  Feeling a bit self-righteous I thought “no way!  I am not going to do that.  That would be like crucifying Jesus all over again!”  Just as fast as I reacted with that response, an overwhelming impression came over me and I knew… “but I have already done that!”  I was humbled.  Jesus did not die just because the people of that day crucified Him.  He chose to die because of my sin as well.  Jesus says in Matthew 26:53 that God could have sent down the angels to save Him but He did not because Jesus knew He had to die in order for us to have a way for salvation. What Jesus did on the cross for me became more real in that moment than it had for years.   

God has created so many different people and uses all denominations in which He draws each of us into a relationship with Him.  I am going to step outside my box again this year and my goal is to attend a Maundy Thursday and/or Easter morning sunrise service.  I challenge you to experience the reality of the resurrection in a new way this year as well.

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