Friday Dec 15

Articles

A COMMUNION SERVICE

based on the

SEVEN LAST SAYINGS OF JESUS

“DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME,” JESUS SAID. THIS MORNING IT IS MY PRIVILEGE TO LEAD US IN A TIME TO REMEMBER. I WOULD LIKE US TO REMEMBER AS BEST AS WE CAN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TWENTY-FOUR HOURS IN THE LIFE OF JESUS. I WILL BE WEAVING THE HOLY SPIRIT INSPIRED MEMORY OF THE FOUR GOSPEL WRITERS AS THEY RETOLD THIS STORY. THEY EACH SEEM TO REMEMBER DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE STORY. AND, SOMETIMES THE DETAILS OR ORDER OF EVENTS ARE A BIT DIFFERENT. IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ALONG IN ONE OF THE GOSPELS, OR JUST LISTEN. JESUS SAID, “AS OFTEN AS YOU EAT THIS BREAD AND DRINK THIS CUP, DO IT IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.” LET’S REMEMBER.

MATT 26:17—ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, THE DISCIPLES CAME TO JESUS WITH THE QUESTION, “WHERE DO YOU WANT US TO MAKE PREPARATIONS FOR YOU TO EAT THE PASSOVER?”

MARK 14:13—JESUS SENT TWO OF THEM (PETER AND JOHN) WITH THESE INSTRUCTIONS: “GO INTO THE TOWN AND YOU WILL MEET A MAN CARRYING A PITCHER OF WATER.” THAT WOULD NOT BE HARD TO SPOT. MEN DID NOT CARRY THE PITCHERS OF WATER FROM THE WELL. FOLLOW HIM AND SAY TO THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE TO WHICH HE GOES, “THE MASTER SAYS, ‘WHERE IS THE ROOM FOR ME TO EAT THE PASSOVER WITH MY DISCIPLES?’ AND HE WILL SHOW YOU A LARGE UPSTAIRS ROOM ALL READY WITH THE FURNISHINGS THAT WE NEED. THAT IS THE PLACE WHERE YOU SHOULD MAKE PREPARATIONS.” SO THE DISCIPLES SET OFF AND WENT INTO THE TOWN, FOUND EVERYTHING AS HE HAD TOLD THEM, AND PREPARED FOR THE PASSOVER. OF COURSE, IT WAS A LOT MORE INVOLVED THAN THE EMBLEMS WE USE FOR COMMUNION TODAY.

IN ADDITION TO SECURING THE HARD-BOILED EGG, THE BITTER HERBS, THE PARSLEY, THE SHANK BONE, THE HORSERADISH, THE DISH OF SALT WATER, THE THREE LOAVES OF UNLEAVENED BREAD PLACED ON TOP OF EACH OTHER UNDER A CLOTH, AND THE FOUR CUPS OF WINE, ALL SYMBOLS OF THE SEDER PLATE, THEY HAD TO PREPARE FOR THE FULL FESTIVAL MEAL.

MARK 14:17—LATE IN THE EVENING, JESUS ARRIVED WITH THE TWELVE.

THE DISCIPLES HAD JUST BEEN ARGUING AMONG THEMSELVES AS TO WHO WOULD BE THE GREATEST WHEN JESUS SET UP HIS KINGDOM. FOR THIS, OR ANOTHER REASON, PETER AND JOHN FORGOT TO SECURE THE SERVANT WHO WOULD WASH THE FEET OF THE GUESTS. POSSIBLY THEY THOUGHT THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE WOULD PROVIDE THAT LOWLIEST OF HOUSEHOLD SERVANTS. THROUGH THE CEREMONY OF THE SEDER AND THE FESTIVAL MEAL, THEY RECLINED WITH UNWASHED FEET. WAS JESUS WAITING TO GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THEIR SERVANTHOOD? THE MIDDLE LOAF HAD BEEN BROKEN AND HAD BEEN HIDDEN. TWO OF THE FOUR CUPS OF WINE HAD BEEN DRUNK.

JOHN 13:3—JESUS, WITH THE FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT THE FATHER HAD PUT EVERYTHING INTO HIS HANDS AND THAT HE HAD COME FROM GOD AND WAS GOING TO GOD, ROSE FROM THE SUPPER-TABLE, TOOK OFF HIS OUTER CLOTHES, PICKED UP A TOWEL AND FASTENED IT AROUND HIS WAIST. THEN HE POURED WATER INTO THE BASIN AND BEGAN TO WASH THE DISCIPLES’ FEET AND TO DRY THEM WITH THE TOWEL.

WE DON’T KNOW WHO WAS FIRST. MAYBE IT WAS MATTHEW. AS MATTHEW SWUNG HIS LEGS AROUND TO THE FLOOR, WHAT CONVERSATION DID THEY HAVE? MAYBE JESUS SAID, “MATTHEW, DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN I CALLED YOU?” “OH, YES, LORD. I WAS COLLECTING TAXES FOR ROME.” “ARE YOU GLAD I CALLED YOU?” “OH, YES, LORD.” WE DON’T KNOW WHO WAS NEXT. MAYBE IT WAS THOMAS. OR PHILIP. OR MAYBE IT WAS JUDAS! YES, JUDAS WAS THERE FOR THE FOOT-WASHING. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? JESUS IS KNEELING BEFORE HIM. AS JUDAS SWINGS HIS LEGS AROUND TO THE FLOOR, JESUS HEARS THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER JANGLING IN HIS POCKET! YET, HE WASHED HIS FEET! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN JESUS WASHED YOUR FEET?

WE DO KNOW THAT HE EVENTUALLY CAME TO PETER.

JOHN 13:6—“LORD, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? ARE YOU GOING TO WASH MY FEET?” “YOU DO NOT REALIZE NOW WHAT I AM DOING,” REPLIED JESUS, “BUT LATER ON YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.” AS PETER PULLED HIS LEGS UP MORE TIGHTLY UNDER HIM, HE SHOUTED, “LORD, YOU MUST NEVER WASH MY FEET!” “UNLESS YOU LET ME WASH YOU, PETER, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH ME.” GOOD OL’ PETER! THEN WHAT DOES HE SAY? “THEN, PLEASE, NOT JUST MY FEET BUT MY HANDS AND MY FACE AS WELL! GIVE ME A BATH!I CAN HEAR JESUS CHUCKLING AT PETER’S ALWAYS-FORWARD COMMENTS. “NO! NO! PETER. THE MAN WHO IS BATHED ONLY NEEDS TO WASH HIS FEET TO BE CLEAN ALL OVER. AND YOU ARE CLEAN—IN A MORE SOBER TONE OF VOICE, JESUS SAYS, “THOUGH NOT ALL OF YOU.” FOR, JESUS KNEW WHO IT WAS WHO WOULD BETRAY HIM. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL LESSON OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP: SEEING FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, THEN MINISTERING UNTO PEOPLE FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE.

JOHN 13:21—AFTER THIS, JESUS WAS DEEPLY TROUBLED WITH ANGUISH IN HIS SPIRIT, AND SOLEMNLY SAID, “I TELL YOU PLAINLY, ONE OF YOU IS GOING TO BETRAY ME?” AT THIS THE DISCIPLES STARED AT EACH OTHER, COMPLETELY MYSTIFIED AS TO WHOM HE COULD MEAN. THEY LOOKED AT EACH OTHER AND QUESTIONED, “IS IT I?” “IS IT I?” “IS IT I?” PETER MOTIONED TO JOHN TO ASK JESUS, “WHO IS IT?” “IT IS THE ONE TO WHOM I AM GOING TO GIVE THIS PIECE OF BREAD, AFTER I HAVE DIPPED IT IN THE DISH.” HE GAVE IT TO JUDAS, AND SAID, “WHAT YOU MUST DO, DO QUICKLY!” DO WE REMEMBER? HAS IT EVER BEEN FOUND IN OUR HEART TO BETRAY OUR LORD?

LUKE 22:15—“WITH FERVENT DESIRE I HAVE LONGED TO EAT THIS PASSOVER WITH YOU BEFORE I SUFFER.” THEN HE TOOK A LOAF (IT WAS THAT MIDDLE LOAF THAT HAD BEEN BROKEN) AND AFTER HE HAD BLESSED IT, HE SAID, “THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU: DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.” SO ALSO, HE TOOK THE CUP (THE THIRD CUP, THE CUP OF REDEMPTION) AND SAID, “THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD, WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU.”

JOHN 13:31—“NOW THE SON OF MAN IS GLORIFIED…LOVE ONE ANOTHER…THIS IS HOW MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, BECAUSE YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER…PETER, TONIGHT YOU WILL DENY ME THREE TIMES… “NEVER, LORD!” “YES, PETER. REMEMBER, BEFORE THE ROOSTER CROWS.” IN THIS LAST HOUR BEFORE GOING OUT TO THE GARDEN, JESUS POURS OUT HIS HEART OF LOVE TO HIS DISCIPLES: “DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED; YOU BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME…I AM GOING TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU…IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS…MY PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU…I AM THE TRUE VINE…ABIDE IN ME…THE COMFORTER WILL COME…I HAVE CHOSEN YOU…IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION…FATHER, I PRAY NOT ONLY FOR THESE DISCIPLES, BUT FOR ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE IN MY NAME.”

FIVE TIMES IN THAT PRAYER, JESUS ASKED HIS FATHER FOR UNITY AMONG BELIEVERS. AS THE PSALMIST HAD SAID (133:1), “HOW GOOD AND PLEASANT IT IS FOR MEN TO DWELL TOGETHER IN UNITY.” AND, SO AWFUL IT IS FOR “MEN TO SOW DISCORD AMONG THE BELIEVERS” THAT SOLOMON (PRO 6:19) SAID THAT IT IS ONE OF THE SEVEN ABOMINATIONS OF GOD!

MATT 26:30 & JOHN 18:1—AND WHEN JESUS HAD SPOKEN THESE WORDS AND THEY HAD SUNG A HYMN, THEY WENT OUT OVER THE BROOK KIDRON, WHERE THERE WAS A GARDEN NAMED GETHSEMAME ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES. WHAT PSALM MIGHT THEY HAVE SUNG: THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT. HE MAKES ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES; HE LEADS ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS. HE RESTORES MY SOUL. HE LEADS ME IN PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE. YES, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL FOR YOU ARE WITH ME. YOUR ROD AND YOUR STAFF, THEY WILL COMFORT ME. YOU PREPARE A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES. YOU ANOINT MY HEAD WITH OIL; MY CUP RUNS OVER. SURLY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE; AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER. PSALM 23

MATT 26:38—HE WENT A BIT FURTHER INTO THE GARDEN WITH PETER, JAMES AND JOHN. HE SAID, “MY SOUL IS EXCEEDINGLY SORROWFUL AND DEEPLY DISTRESSED. PRAY THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE TO FACE TEMPTATION!” AN HOUR OF PRAYER…ANOTHER…AND A THIRD, AS ALL OF HIS HUMANNESS WAS CRYING OUT TO HIS FATHER FOR THERE TO BE ANOTHER WAY TO REDEEM MAN BACK TO GOD. SO GREAT WAS HIS ANGUISH THAT THE CAPILLARIES IN HIS FOREHEAD BURST AND BLOOD CAME OUT THROUGH HIS SWEAT GLANDS. BUT IN THEIR STRUGGLE OF WILLS—THE MOST VITAL PIVOTAL POINT IN ALL OF TIME—HE CONCLUDED, “NEVERTHELESS, NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE.”

JOHN 18:2—AND JUDAS, WHO BETRAYED HIM, ALSO KNEW THE PLACE; FOR JESUS OFTEN MET THERE WITH HIS DISCIPLES. THEN JUDAS, HAVING RECEIVED A DETACHMENT OF TROOPS AND OFFICERS FROM THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND PHARISEES, CAME THERE WITH THEIR LAMPS AND TORCHES AND WEAPONS. JUDAS STEPPED FORWARD.

Luke 22:48—“JUDAS, ARE YOU BETRAYING THE SON OF MAN WITH A KISS?”     …DO WE REMEMBER?

JOHN 18:4—TO THE CROWD, JESUS ASKED, “WHO ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?” “JESUS OF NAZARETH!” THEY DEMANDED.

“I AM!” AT THOSE WORDS, THEY FELL BACKWARDS TO THE GROUND. AGAIN, THE QUESTION. AND AGAIN, “I AM!” AS JESUS HAD SAID TO THE JEWS (JOHN 8:58), “BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM!”, DECLARING HIMSELF TO BE GOD.

JOHN 18:10—BOLD PETER—HE PULLS OUT HIS SWORD; POOR MALCHUS! HIS RIGHT EAR IS ON THE GROUND. BUT JESUS TOUCHED HIS EAR AND HEALED HIM.

LUKE 22:66—THEY BOUND HIM AND LED HIM AWAY. ALL THE DISCIPLES SPLIT. A YOUNG MAN (THOUGHT TO BE JOHN MARK) IS TRYING TO ESCAPE. THEY GRAB HIS LINEN NIGHTSHIRT BUT HE ESCAPES, NAKED. A NIGHT OF MOCKING…HIS BEARD IS PLUCKED OUT…HE IS SPIT UPON…BLINDFOLDED…THEY ARE BEATING HIM…“PROPHESY!” THEY SAY. “WHO STRUCK YOU?” AN ILLEGAL, HASTILY CALLED MEETING OF THE SANHEDRIN, THE RULING BODY OF THE JEWS. THEN WHEN DAYLIGHT CAME, THEY MARCHED HIM OFF TO THEIR OWN COUNCIL. “ARE YOU THE CHRIST? ARE YOU THE SON OF GOD?” “YOU ARE CORRECT; I AM!” THEN THE HIGH PRIEST TORE HIS CLOTHES AND SAID, “WHAT FURTHER TESTIMONY DO WE NEED? YOU HAVE HEARD THE BLASPHEMY! THIS MAN IS WORTHY OF DEATH.”

JUDAS, SEEING THAT HE HAD BETRAYED AN INNOCENT MAN, WENT OUT AND HANGED HIMSELF. PETER, SEEING THAT HE HAD DENIED HIS LORD, WENT OUT AND WEPT BITTERLY.

THEY BOUND HIM AND LED HIM AWAY TO THE PRAETORIUM, PILATE’S HEADQUARTERS.

JOHN 18:28—BUT THEY WOULD NOT GO IN, FOR FEAR THAT THEY WOULD BE CONTAMINATED AND WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO EAT THE PASSOVER. SO, PILATE CAME OUT TO THEM ON THE PAVEMENT. “WHAT ACCUSATION DO YOU BRING AGAINST THIS MAN?” ANOTHER MOCK TRIAL FOLLOWS. “I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM.” AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND A THIRD TIME: “THIS MAN IS NOT WORTHY OF DEATH.” PILATE’S WIFE SENT A MESSAGE TO HIM: “HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS JUST MAN. I HAVE BEEN DEEPLY TROUBLED IN A DREAM BECAUSE OF HIM.” PILATE SENT HIM TO HEROD, BUT JESUS DID NOT ANSWER HIM EVEN ONE WORD. BACK TO PILATE. HE KNOWS THAT IT IS FROM ENVY THAT THEY HAVE BROUGHT JESUS TO HIM. “ARE YOU THE KING OF THE JEWS?” “YES, YOU ARE CORRECT IN SAYING SO. BUT MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. EVERYONE WHO LOVES TRUTH RECOGNIZES MY VOICE.” “WHAT IS TRUTH?” WHAT A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE IS GOING ON HERE. PILATE AGAIN BRINGS JESUS OUT TO THE PEOPLE. “BEHOLD, YOUR KING!” “WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR!” “I WILL WHIP HIM AND LET HIM GO.” BUT THE CHIEF PRIESTS STIRRED UP THE PEOPLE SO THAT HE WOULD RATHER RELEASE BARABBAS TO THEM. “WHAT THEN DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH HIM WHOM YOU CALL THE ‘KING OF THE JEWS’?”CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” WERE WE IN THAT CROWD? IS HE TOO RADICAL FOR ME? DOES HE DISRUPT THE COMFORT OF MY LIFE? DO I ALSO WANT HIM OUT OF MY WAY? ARE HIS TEACHINGS TOO HARD FOR ME? DO I, BY MY LIFESTYLE, ALSO CRY, “AWAY WITH HIM!”

MATT 27:24—WHEN PILATE REALIZED THAT THERE WAS NOTHING MORE THAT COULD BE DONE, BUT THAT THERE WOULD SOON BE A RIOT, HE CALLED FOR A BOWL OF WATER AND WASHED HIS HANDS BEFORE THE WHOLE CROWD, SAYING, “I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DEATH OF THIS MAN. YOU MUST SEE TO THAT YOURSELVES.” “LET HIS BLOOD BE UPON US AND OUR CHILDREN!”

MARK 15:15—“SO PILATE, WANTING TO GRATIFY THE CROWD, RELEASED BARABBAS TO THEM; AND HE DELIVERED JESUS, AFTER HE HAD HIM WHIPPED, TO BE CRUCIFIED.” THEN THE GOVERNOR’S SOLDIERS TOOK JESUS INTO THE PRAETORIUM AND GATHERED THE WHOLE GUARD AROUND HIM. THE TORN SKIN AND FLESH OF HIS BACK WITH THE COAGULATED BLOOD HAD STUCK TO HIS TUNIC, CREATING UNBEARABLE PAIN AS THEY STRIPPED HIM OF HIS OWN ROBE. THEY PUT A SCARLET ROBE ON HIM. THEY TWISTED SOME THORN-TWIGS INTO A CROWN AND PUT IT ON HIS HEAD AND PUT A STICK INTO HIS RIGHT HAND. THEY BOWED LOW BEFORE HIM AND JEERED AT HIM WITH THE WORDS, “HAIL, YOUR MAJESTY, KING OF THE JEWS!” THEY SPAT ON HIM, TOOK THE STICK AND HIT HIM ON THE HEAD WITH IT. AND WHEN THEY HAD FINISHED THEIR FUN, THEY STRIPPED THE CLOAK OFF AGAIN, PUT HIS OWN CLOTHES BACK ON HIM AND LED HIM OFF FOR CRUCIFIXION. IT IS ABOUT EIGHT O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, AS THEY BEGIN THE WALK TO GOLGOTHA. THE AGONY OF GETHSEMANE, THE NIGHT OF MOCKING, THE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE IN THE MOCK TRIALS, HIS BACK HAVING BEEN LAID OPEN BY THE FLOGGING, THE LOSS OF BLOOD, AND THE WEIGHT OF THE CROSS, WERE MORE THAN HE COULD BEAR. YOU RUSH FORWARD. “JESUS”, YOU CRY, “YOU ARE INNOCENT. I AM GUILTY. LET ME CARRY THAT CROSS. YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. I AM THE SINNER!” BUT THE SOLDIERS PUSH YOU AWAY. THEY COMPEL SIMON, A NATIVE OF CYRENE IN AFRICA, THE FATHER OF ALEXANDER AND RUFUS, WHO WAS JUST COMING IN FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE TO CARRY THE CROSS BEFORE JESUS. THE VIA DELAROSA…THE WAY OF THE CROSS. IT WAS A LONG, SLOW TRUDGE UP TO GOLGOTHA, WHICH IS TRANSLATED, PLACE OF THE SKULL.

LUKE 23:27—A GREAT MULTITUDE OF PEOPLE FOLLOWED HIM, CROWDING, JOSTLING ALONG THAT NARROW PASSAGE. SOME WOMEN MOURNED AND LAMENTED OVER HIM. HE PAUSED, “DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM. DON’T WEEP FOR ME. WEEP FOR YOURSELVES AND FOR YOUR CHILDREN.” AND WE AND THE 45-50 GENERATIONS WHO HAVE LIVED SINCE THEN STILL WEEP AND WE PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM.

THERE WERE ALSO TWO OTHERS, CRIMINALS, LED WITH HIM TO BE PUT TO DEATH.

MARK 15:25—NOW IT WAS ABOUT THE THIRD HOUR (9 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING) WHEN THEY HAD COME TO THE PLACE CALLED CALVARY. THERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM.

MARK 15:23—THEY OFFERED HIM WINE MIXED WITH MYRRH TO DULL THE PAIN, BUT HE REFUSED THE DRINK. DO YOU HEAR THE RING OF THE HAMMER ON THE NAILS AS THEY ARE DRIVEN INTO HIS HANDS? DO YOU HEAR HIS CRY OF PAIN WITH EACH BLOW? DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. THE POLE IS LIFTED AND DROPPED INTO A HOLE. DIRT IS FILLED IN AND STAKES ARE DRIVEN IN TO HOLD THE CROSS UPRIGHT. HIS FEET ARE PLACED ONE ON THE OTHER. THEY GIVE SOME FLEX TO HIS KNEES AND DRIVE ANOTHER NAIL THROUGH HIS FEET INTO THE POST.

JOHN 19:19—NOW PILATE WROTE A TITLE AND PUT IT ON THE CROSS. AND THE WRITING WAS: THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. IT WAS WRITTEN IN HEBREW, GREEK AND LATIN. MANY OF THE JEWS READ THIS TITLE AS THEY PASSED BY, FOR IT WAS NEAR THE CITY. THE CHIEF PRIESTS WENT TO PILATE. “DO NOT WRITE, ‘THE KING OF THE JEWS’ BUT ‘HE SAID, “I AM KING OF THE JEWS.”’” PILATE ANSWERED: “WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, I HAVE WRITTEN!” THEN THE SOLDIERS, WHEN THEY HAD CRUCIFIED JESUS, TOOK HIS GARMENTS AND MADE FOUR PARTS, TO EACH SOLDIER, A PART, AND ALSO THE TUNIC. NOW THE TUNIC WAS WITHOUT SEAM, WOVEN FROM THE TOP IN ONE PIECE. THEY SAID AMONG THEMSELVES “LET’S NOT TEAR IT, BUT CAST LOTS FOR IT, TO SEE WHOSE IT SHOULD BE.”

JOHN 19:25—“NOW WHILE THE SOLDIERS WERE DOING THIS, JESUS’ MOTHER WAS STANDING NEAR WITH HER SISTER, AND WITH THEM WERE MARY, THE WIFE OF CLOPAS AND MARY MAGDALENE. ALSO STANDING THERE WAS JOHN. JESUS SAID TO HIS MOTHER, “LET JOHN BE YOUR SON. JOHN, TAKE MARY AS YOUR MOTHER.” AND FROM THAT TIME JOHN TOOK MARY INTO HIS OWN HOME. THIS WAS THE FIRST OF SEVEN RECORDED SAYING OF CHRIST AS HE HUNG ON THE CROSS.

MARK 15:27—WITH HIM WERE CRUCIFIED TWO CRIMINALS, ONE ON THE RIGHT HAND AND THE OTHER ON THE LEFT. SO THE SCRIPTURE WAS FULFILLED WHICH SAYS, “AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS.” AND THOSE WHO PASSED BY BLASPHEMED HIM, WAGGING THEIR HEADS AND SAYING, “AHA! YOU WHO DESTROY THE TEMPLE AND BUILD IT UP IN THREE DAYS, SAVE YOURSELF, AND COME DOWN FROM THE CROSS.” ALSO, THE CHIEF PRIESTS WERE MOCKING AMONG THEMSELVES WITH THE SCRIBES, “HE SAVED OTHERS; HIMSELF HE CANNOT SAVE. LET THE CHRIST, KING OF ISRAEL, DESCEND FROM THE CROSS, THAT WE MAY SEE AND BELIEVE. HE TRUSTED IN THE LORD, LET HIM RESCUE HIM NOW. LET HIM DELIVER HIM, SINCE HE DELIGHTS IN HIM.” DID THEY EVEN THINK AT THE TIME THAT THEY WERE QUOTING THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES (22) OF THE PSALMIST DAVID?

AND EVEN THOSE WHO WERE CRUCIFIED WITH HIM REVILED HIM.

LUKE 23:34—THEN JESUS SAID, “FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.”

PAIN ACCOMPANIED THE STRUGGLE FOR BREATHE AS THE THREE PUSHED UP AGAINST THE NAILS IN THEIR FEET TO ALLOW AIR TO FILL THEIR LUNGS. EVIDENTLY, ONE OF THE CRIMINALS REALIZED HE WAS REALLY GOING TO DIE.

LUKE 23:39—THEN ONE OF THE CRIMINALS HANGING THERE COVERED HIM WITH ABUSE, AND SAID, “AREN’T YOU THE CHRIST? WHY DON’T YOU SAVE YOURSELF—AND US?” BUT THE OTHER ONE REBUKED HIM WITH THE WORDS, “AREN’T YOU AFRAID OF GOD EVEN WHEN YOU ARE GETTING THE SAME PUNISHMENT AS HE IS? AND WE ARE GETTING WHAT IS FAIR FOR THE DEEDS WE HAVE DONE, BUT THIS MAN NEVER DID ANYTHING WRONG IN HIS WHOLE LIFE.” THEN, TO JESUS HE REQUESTED, “REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.” AND JESUS ANSWERED, WITH ALL CONFIDENCE, I ASSURE YOU THAT TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.” DO YOUR REMEMBER? DO YOU REMEMBER THE DAY AND THE HOUR THAT YOU ASKED TO BE REMEMBERED BY YOUR LORD? FOR ME, IT WAS OVER 70 YEARS AGO. I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL THAT HE SAID TO ME, “WELCOME INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD!”

MATT 27:45—FROM NOON UNTIL ABOUT THREE O’CLOCK, THERE WAS DARKNESS OVER THE WHOLE COUNTRYSIDE. THE SUN WAS DARKENED LIKE WITH A CLOAK. THEN JESUS CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, “MY GOD! MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” IT WAS THE DARKEST HOUR IN ALL OF TIME AND ETERNITY. IT WAS THE MOMENT IN TIME WHEN THE UNITY BETWEEN THE FATHER AND SON WAS BROKEN. IT WAS THE TIME WHEN JESUS CHRIST BECAME SIN FOR US, WHO KNEW NO SIN. IT WAS THE TIME WHEN HE TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE PENALTY FOR THE SINS OF ALL MANKIND. IT WAS THE TIME WHEN THE FATHER TURNED HIS BACK ON HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. AND WORSE, AS THE FATHER WATCHED THIS SCENE FROM THAT HEAVENLY PORTAL, ISAIAH (53:10) RECORDS, “IT PLEASED THE LORD TO CRUSH HIS SON AND TO PUT HIM TO GRIEF.” OH, THE MATCHLESS LOVE OF GOD FOR YOU AND ME. CAN YOU IMAGINE? COULD WE WITH INK THE OCEAN FILL AND WERE THE SKIES OF PARCHMENT MADE; WERE EVERY STALK ON EARTH A QUILL AND EVERY MAN A SCRIBE BY TRADE—TO WRITE THE LOVE OF GOD ABOVE, WOULD DRAIN THE OCEAN DRY, NOR COULD THE SCROLL CONTAIN THE WHOLE, THOUGH STRETCHED FROM SKY TO SKY. THE LOVE OF GOD, SO RICH SO PURE, SO MEASURELESS AND STRONG.

JOHN 3:16—FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. DO YOU REMEMBER?

JOHN 19:28—AFTER THIS, JESUS KNOWING THAT ALL THINGS WERE NOW ACCOMPLISHED, THAT THE SCRIPTURES MIGHT BE FULFILLED, SAID, “I THIRST!” A VESSEL OF SOUR WINE WAS SITTING THERE. THEY FILLED A SPONGE WITH IT AND PUT IT TO HIS MOUTH. SO, WHEN HE RECEIVED THE SOUR WINE, HE SAID, “IT IS FINISHED!”

IN ROMAN LAW, THE CRIMES OF A CONDEMNED PERSON WERE WRITTEN ON A PAPER, POSTED ON THE BARS OF HIS CELL. WHEN HE HAD PAID THE PRICE FOR HIS CRIME, HE WAS RELEASED AND GIVEN THAT PAPER. WRITTEN IN BIG LETTERS ACROSS THE PAPER WERE THE WORDS: IT IS FINISHED! WITH THIS PAPER, HE COULD DECLARE TO THE WORLD THAT HE HAD FULLY PAID FOR HIS CRIME. JESUS SAID, “IT IS FINISHED!”

OH, THE MYSTERY OF GOD: THAT HE WOULD PAY THE PRICE OF OUR SIN. (II COR 5:21) HE HAS MADE HIM SIN FOR US, WHO KNEW NO SIN. (ISA 1:18) THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW; THOUGH THEY BE RED AS CRIMSON, THEY SHALL BE AS WOOL. (PSA 103:12) AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST, SO FAR HAVE YOUR SINS BEEN REMOVED FROM YOU. IT IS FINISHED! ALL THE PROPHESIES HAVE BEEN FULFILLED. IT IS FINISHED! THE PRICE FOR OUR REDEMPTION HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL. IT IS FINISHED!

MATT 27: 51—THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE AND ROCKS WERE SPLIT, AND THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE—THAT THICKLY WOVEN CURTAIN, THE SEPARATION THAT KEPT THE PEOPLE FROM THE HOLY OF HOLIES; THAT PLACE WHERE THE CHIEF PRIEST ENTERED ONLY ONCE A YEAR FOR THE COVERING OF HIS SINS AND THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE—THAT VEIL WAS TORN IN TWO FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. (HEB 4:16) WE CAN NOW COME BOLDLY INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD, THAT WE MAY OBTAIN MERCY AND FIND GRACE IN OUR TIME OF NEED. OH, DEAR PEOPLE, DO YOU REMEMBER?

LUKE 23:46—AND WHEN JESUS AGAIN CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, HE SAID, “FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” AND WITH THESE WORDS, HE BREATHED OUT HIS LAST BREATH. SO WHEN THE CENTURION SAW WHAT HAD HAPPENED, HE GLORIFIED GOD, SAYING, (MARK 15:39) “CERTAINLY THIS MAN WAS THE SON OF GOD!”

THIS IS OUR TIME OF REMEMBRANCE. (ISA 53:5a) HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, HE WAS BRUISED FOR OUR INIQUITIES…

AS HE TOOK THE HALF LOAF, HE BROKE IT AND SAID, THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WAS BROKEN FOR YOU. DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.

AS WE PARTICIPATE IN THIS MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION, WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO EXAMINE OURSELVES, FOR TO EAT OF THIS BREAD AND TO DRINK OF THIS CUP IN AN UNWORTHY MANNER IS TO EAT AND DRINK DAMNATION TO OURSELVES. SO, LET US PRAY THE PRAYER OF PSALM 139:23-24: SEARCH ME, O GOD, AND KNOW MY HEART, TRY ME, AND KNOW MY ANXIOUS THOUGHTS; SEE IF THERE IS ANY WICKED WAY IN ME…

AS THE BREAD IS BEING PASSED OUT TO YOU, PLEASE HOLD IT FOR US TO EAT TOGETHER. PLEASE TAKE THIS TIME IN SILENCE WITH THE LORD AS WE ACKNOWLEDGE WE ARE IN HIS PRESENCE. WE HAVE ASKED HIM TO EXAMINE US. LET US LISTEN TO HIS ANSWER TO WHAT HE FINDS. AND DEAL WITH IT NOW.

WE HOLD IN OUR HANDS THE EMBLEM, THE SYMBOL OF JESUS CHRIST’S BROKEN BODY, BROKEN FOR US THAT WE MAY BE MADE WHOLE. WE EAT THIS BREAD, ACKNOWLEDGING HIS SACRIFICE FOR US. LET US PRAY: OH, FATHER; ALMIGHTY GOD, WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US. WE ARE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR GIFT OF SALVATION. WE TAKE THIS BREAD AND EAT IT, IN FAITH BELIEVING THAT YOU ARE AND THAT YOU ARE THE GIVER OF ETERNAL LIFE. AMEN.

AND IN THE SAME NIGHT IN WHICH HE WAS BETRAYED, AFTER SUPPER, HE TOOK THE CUP…THE THIRD CUP—THE CUP OF REDEMPTION! WE HAVE BEEN REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. LET’S STAND AND COME FORWARD TO RECEIVE THE CUP, REJOICING IN THE FINISHED WORK OF CALVARY. PLEASE ALSO HOLD YOUR CUP FOR US TO DRINK TOGETHER.

JESUS SAID HE WOULD NOT DRINK WINE AGAIN UNTIL HE CAN DRINK IT WITH US IN HIS KINGDOM. BUT TODAY, WE DRINK IT IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIM, REMEMBERING THE LORD’S DEATH UNTIL HE COMES AGAIN. LET US PRAY: FATHER OF LIGHTS, IN WHOM THERE IS NO SHADOW OR TURNING, FILL US WITH THE RADIANCE OF YOUR LOVE THAT WE MAY SHINE FORTH YOUR LIGHT IN THIS DARK AND SINFUL WORLD. FOR WE ARE FORGIVEN; WE ARE WASHED; WE ARE CLEAN! THANK YOU, JESUS! AMEN. IT IS A TOAST, TO THE KING OF KINGS AND TO THE LORD OF LORDS. WE DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF YOU, JESUS!

~~~Neal Pirolo