Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below).  I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

So goes a traditional nighttime prayer taught by American moms to their children for generations. It may seem odd to us today that there would be the mention of death in a child's prayer.  But scientists say that sleep is the closest we come to death while still alive.  The Greeks even had a proverb,

Sleep and death are brothers.

However, in the first century, Jewish moms taught their children a different bedtime prayer...quoting Psalm 31:

Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESV

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon. By this time, Jesus has already forgiven ... 

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

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

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people.  I love the stories He tells in Luke 15.  The first is the beloved story of the shepherd who has a hundred sheep but leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost.  Then when he finds his lost one, he calls in his neighbors and friends to rejoice with him.

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Lenten Meditation: Forgiveness Revisited

Lenten Meditation:  Forgiveness Revisited

I used to think that the struggle to forgive was itself sinful...as well as the horrible feelings I had in the whole thing.  But I've come to realize that the struggle and the feelings are all part of the human condition on this earth.  Perhaps they are rather temptations to the sin of unforgiveness.

Here are the five points that Lewis Smedes writes in his bookShame and Grace.  I pray these points will be helpful to you as well.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return. 

Ash Wednesday has taken on a new meaning for me in recent years, since my 91 year old mom passed away early in November 2015. There was something that arrested me right in my tracks the day of my mom's funeral. I was undone by deep sobs of realization. And the depth of it had been helped along by the incense and the reverence afforded the treatment of my dear mama's frail little body being put to rest (or so they say).

But it wasn't the finality of it all. It had already been final when she had breathed her last, days before.

No! It was the Sacredness that came crashing through!

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

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Lenten Meditation: Dust to Dust

Lenten Meditation:  Dust to Dust

I grew up in a liturgical church.  So from my childhood into my early adulthood, I observed the church calendar.   Ash Wednesday marked a real turning point in the calendar year.  It was a turn from comfort, frivolity, and enjoyment (think Mardi Gras) to a time of repentance, self-denial, and mortification called Lent. Ash Wednesday was a day when we all remembered that someday we would each die and face our Maker.  The priest would put the sign of the cross on our foreheads in black ashes and say,

Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. [based on Genesis 3:19]

Read More

Lenten Meditation: Forgiveness Revisited

Lenten Meditation:  Forgiveness Revisited

Several years ago, I met with a group of moms to explore one of our Lord's first words from the Cross: Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34

As our discussion went on, we talked about the struggle we all have to forgive our offenders.  I shared a short section from a book that years before had an incredible impact on me in the area of forgiveness.

I used to think that the struggle to forgive was itself sinful...as well as the horrible feelings I had in the whole thing.  But I've come to realize that the struggle and the feelings are all part of the human condition on this earth. 

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Now I lay me down to sleepI pray the Lord my soul to keep If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take

So goes a traditional nighttime prayer taught by American moms to their children for generations.

It may seem odd to us today that there would be the mention of death in a child's prayer.  But scientists say that sleep is the closest we come to death while still alive.  The Greeks even had a proverb,

Sleep and death are brothers.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

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

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people ... This makes me think of the criminals executed with Our Lord Christ. They certainly were the lost sheep, ...the lost coins, ...the lost sons...and Jesus came to seek them.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

They obviously had been running away from God...who knows what kind of crimes they had committed!  The Bible just calls them "criminals" [thieves, malefactors KJV].  Maybe God didn't come into their thinking...but that's the point.  They had gone their own way.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

Read More

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Read More

Lenten Meditation: Dust to Dust

I grew up in a liturgical church.  So from my childhood into my early adulthood, I observed the church calendar.   Ash Wednesday marked a real turning point in the calendar year.  It was a turn from comfort, frivolity, and enjoyment (think Mardi Gras) to a time of repentance, self-denial, and mortification called Lent. Ash Wednesday was a day when we all remembered that someday we would each die and face our Maker.  The priest would put the sign of the cross on our foreheads in black ashes and say,

Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. [based on Genesis 3:19]

A  very sobering reminder...and I took it all very seriously.

Even though I'm not a part of a liturgical congregation now, I think it's a good thing to remember that death is up ahead for each of us.

But why death?  The Bible says,

The wages of sin is death...  Romans 6:23a

But the good news is

...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23b

Pastor and Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll, takes the symbolism of the ashen cross a step further.  He says,

The mark is a sign of Christ's ownership of the person and a symbol of sorrow for sins...We are His possessions and a true appreciation for the cost of our salvation begins with an understanding of the seriousness of sin.

So while Ash Wednesday reminds us of our sin and our mortality, we can look ahead to Good Friday and Easter Sunday because we are His possession.  We know the end of the story, and (as someone has said) "We win"...because HE won!

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1Peter 2:24

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” ...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:54-57

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For more about Lent and Ash Wednesday, visit the Voice blog.

Coming soon: 

Lenten meditations:  Jesus' Last Words from the Cross

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Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

I love this post because it was such a serendipitous delight to find this clipping in my file a few years ago. So I can't help but share it year by year.

Would you meditate along with me ... and revisit Christ's seven sayings for the Cross this holy week? It's truly "holy ground" as we reflect on the Cross, what our Lord went through, but mainly, what He accomplished there. What a perfect preparation for the joy, freedom, and release of the Resurrection.

www.johnhartstudios.com.

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file.  I think my husband John (who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by) cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week, which corresponds to Passover this year.

There's an interesting story behind this controversial cartoon.  Apparently for Easter 2001, cartoonist Johnny Hart wanted to do something special. He stated,

I noticed one day that the center section of the Menorah -- the sacred symbol of Judaism, bore the shape of the cross. I wanted everyone to see the cross in the Menorah. It was a revelation to me, that tied God's chosen people to their spiritual next of kin -- the disciples of the Risen Christ. http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/BCcomics_easter.htm

Take a look at the enlarged version below.  And then peer deeply into the empty tomb, and remember HIM!

Behold the Lamb (Communion Song)

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,Slain for us - and we rememberThe promise made that all who come in faithFind forgiveness at the cross.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of peaceAround the table of the King.

The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,Torn for you - eat and rememberThe wounds that heal, the death that brings us lifePaid the price to make us one.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of loveAround the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses every stain of sin,Shed for you - drink and rememberHe drained death's cup that all may enter inTo receive the life of God.

So we share in this bread of life,And we drink of His sacrificeAs a sign of our bonds of graceAround the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we riseTo respond, - and to rememberOur call to follow in the steps of ChristAs His body here on earth.

As we share in His sufferingWe proclaim Christ will come again!And we’ll join in the feast of heavenAround the table of the King

Words and Music by Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Devotions for Holy Week:

Perhaps for the days of Holy Week, you would like to meditate on Christ's sayings one by one.  Here is a summary of the links from our Lenten Meditations at  A Branch in the Vine.

Last Words and Conversations:

  1. Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34 -- a Word of Forgiveness
  2. I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 -- a Word of Salvation
  3. Dear woman, here is your son...Here is your mother. John 19:26-27 -- a Word of Family Affection
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? Matthew 27:46 -- a Word of Abandonment
  5. I am thirsty. John 19:28 -- a Word of Personal Need
  6. It is finished! John 19:30 -- a Word of Completion
  7. Father, into your hands I commit My spirit. Luke 23:46 -- a Word of Reunion

www.johnhartstudios.com.