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The Seven Last Words


Pastor David Ernst

Good Friday
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

Play MP3 of this sermon

Fri, Apr 2, 2010 

The First Word

Luke 23:34 "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

This week the beaches are full and the crowds are going to party. There are celebrations everywhere and milliones will be enjoying themselves with no thought of Jesus Christ. They will not think or meditate on what our Lord has done for us. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Have we taken into account that the nails in His hands were not only put there by Roman soldiers, but by your hands and mine? Who have we not helped in their need, crucifying Jesus ourselves? Who have we hurt in word or deed, breaking bonds of marriage or friendship, crucifying Jesus ourselves? Who have we scorned, causing them to lose faith or give in to despair, nailing our Lord to the cross? Father, forgive us, for we know not what we have done.

It is time for a change. We need to pray together, "Father, forgive, for we know not what we have done."

Still, Jesus prays for you and me. Still His prayer is one that always looks for your well-being and mine at all times. He knows that we have nailed Him to the cross and asks for forgiveness for you and me. The Father was right to be angry with us, but in love sent his Son to die for us. In the midst of the evil of His crucifixion, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

The Second Word

Luke 23:43 "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise."

Here is one who cannot escape reality. He is dying. He finds himself at the side of Jesus.,Who he has seen called, "King of the Jews." Over His head it is written, "King of the Jews." This thief is a Jew. The Romans have crucified Him as well. He cannot expect an earthly kingdom for His life is finished.

The other thief also faces his end. For him, everything is over and he concludes his life in the same way that he lived. In anger and frustration, he mocks Jesus, along with the priests and the crowds that cry, He saved others, but cannot save Himself.

The first thief, who had recognized his faults, did not make excuses. He did not seek to justify himself. He did not pretend to have a right to anything. He did not try to be anything but what he was, a criminal that deserved death.

Can we draw near to Jesus without excuses today? Not making excuses, but admitting that we desire mercy. Can we see that our end without Jesus is one of physical and eternal death?

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, today youwill be with Me in paradise." Suddenly the door is open. Not all is lost. This king of the Jews promised the thief not what he deserved, but what is given by God's promise. Forgiveness. Eternal life with the King Who is not only king of the Jews, but also of all who believe in Him.

Thanks be to God for this open door. Amen.

The Third Word

John 19:26-27 "Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother."

At the foot of the cross we see Mary alone. Today Mary is admired for enduring the pain of her son's death. But John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, is also there.

Jesus said, "Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother." He did not want Mary to lose her son, so He gave her another. He did not want John to lose his master, so He gave him a mother to look after him.

Jesus here gives us a powerful image of what the Church is. When a mother dies, there is another in the house at one's side. Young people born to older women, who have no siblings, are brothers and sisters to everyone.

At another moment, Jesus was teaching and His biological family came to visit. He was told that His mother and brothers wanted to talk to Him. "Who is my mother and who are my brothers?" He asked. "All who do the Fatherś will are my mother and my brothers."

That is to say, we are not alone. Jesus wants us to see one another as members of the same family.

How many people are living alone with no one to care for them? There are reasons for separations and it may be one's own fault. There are marital failures. There are children that have been abandoned by their parents. There are grandmothers in their old age that feel they have nobody. Others live far from their famlies. That is to say, there are those totally separated from others.

Jesus reminds us that this is not so for you and me. He wants us to be one family that shows itself at the foot of the cross.

He, through one faith, one baptism and Himself, has united us in one family that always reflects His love toward one another. Thanks be to God for our Brother, Jesus. Amen.

The Fourth Word

Matthew 27:46 "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Jesus has felt the full weight of everyone's sins. He does not suffer for one, but for you, for me, and, in fact, the whole world.

No one has suffered more than Jesus at this moment. In His soul, Jesus fights with the Devil who wants to convince Him that what He is doing is not worth the effort, Jesus sees the pain, the destruction of marriages and families, private and public sins, murder, hatred and rage that one has for another, the rape of women. The devil shows Jesus that we are not worth the effort. He should not have to suffer for us.

Jesus cries to the Father, "Why is this so?" We hear the human voice of Jeus seeking perfect communion with His Father amid such evil and sin. His sould cannot find peace under such a weight.

Jesus is true man and true God. The Devil wants to convince Jesus to lower Himself from the cross, because it is human nature to hurt each other and not look for salvation. No one has suffered more than Jesus.

"Why is this so?" He asks. "Is there no one who loves Me? Why such rage and hatred?" Jesus is so lonely. He is so tortured. Jesus suffers all so that we do not have to fear death.

Jesus does not give up. His love surpasses all that is ugly, all that threatens to overwhelm us. Yes, we may suffer, understanding that Jesus has declared us forgiven. Yes, sin afflicts us, the sufferings and scorn of the world, but we do not turn away. Now the love of Jesus surrounds us completely and we may walk always in the presence of Christ Himself.

Beloved brethren, when the hour of death approaches, remember that we will find the Good Shepherd there, too. Thanks be to God that Jesus is with us always. Amen.

The Fifth Word

John 19:28 "I thirst."

Jesus is suffering a horrible thirst. His body is damaged and the pain is obvious. He is wracked with physical thirst. As a man, He is suffering the affliction of the cross.

There is more than one kind of thirst, What is thirst?

Thirst is what we feel when we have a burning desire for something. There is a thirst for communion with God and men. Jesus wants those around Him to love Him and see that He loves them.

Jesus has a burning desire to take us from the routines of our lives in which we think day after day about food, clothing and nothing more. The more material things that we have, the more we find we "need" to fill our lives.

We can never rest. There is always the thirst to look for more. We want something badly and we all run around looking for it.

In Christ, the soul finds a love beyond all loves. In Christ, the soul finds the peace that passes human understanding. In Christ, there is a calm in which one can rest. In Christ one finds that one can love others in a pure and disinterested way.

He wants to put you in a relationship of communion, peace and forgiveness with Him, your family, your spouse, your brothers and yourself.

Thanks be to the Father for this thirst of Christ Jesus . Amen.

The Sixth Word

John 19:30 "It is finished."

The work that Jesus came to do is done. Jesus began His ministry preaching and so it was from the beginning to the end.  Some came to know Him for Who He was, but that was not enough. After the supper that He shared with His most intimate disciples, Judays betrayed Him and the rest fled.

Human beings like to be recognized by others. For some, it is money which brings recognition and fame. For others, it when we want to be known for our goodness, friendliness, intelligence or level of education. We want others to see something good in us.

Who is in the world around us?

Let's ask them, "Who are we if we do not have Christ and His Word in our lives?" His Word fills our mind and our being to gives the courage not to be hypocrites, to pretend to be something that we are not.

Jesus has done this for you and for me. Who are we without this Word of Jesus that makes us strong, like a rock that cannot be moved? We are nothing in ourselves, but with this Word we have life and His strength.

All of our lives we need the forgiveness that He gives, because nothing else is a sure foundation. Thanks be to God for Jesus and His sure work. Amen.

The Seventh Word

Luke 23:46 ""Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit."

Jesus was going to return to His Father. Is that not what we want as Christians. Jesus was saying farewell to the world and hello to eternity.

We can do the same. When we commit our lives to the Father, we divest ourselves of worldly concerns and take hold of the kindness of our Heavenly Father. It is His love that has no end. We live with the thirst for the righteousness of our Father in our lives. We ardently desire this righteousness for others.

When we know that our souls belong to Him, His love enables us to blossom as Christians. This love is pure and able to work great things. It is most fulfilling to recognize one's self as belonging to the Heavenly Father.

What love and faith we give to Jesus when we recognize what had to happen for us to belong to Him and Him to us. No one can stop us when we believe that our lives are His, and that in the life to come we will be with Him in paradise!

Jesus has entrusted His spirit to the Father. Now we wait for the third day to see that this confidence was not in vain. We wait anxiously for the third day to sing with joy because as He lives, we will live forever.

Thanks be to God because the Father returned the spirit of Jesus so that He could rise from the dead on the third day. Amen.

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