Welcome!

Over the next seven weeks, we will be posting a reflection every Friday, written by a faculty or staff member, or student, here at Randall. We hope these reflections will aid you in your own experience of the Lenten season.

Whether you come from a church tradition steeped in the practice of Lent, or whether this is your first time experiencing what the season is all about, we hope you will return to this place each Friday. Here we invite you to pause, take a few moments to read each reflection, and consider what the Lord may be doing in your own life.

Our theme is the "Seven Last Words." Most of us have read and heard Christ’s words from the cross many times. This series is an invitation to hear these words on a deeper level. Throughout this Lenten season, we will see up close and personal the horror and agony of the cross. We will come face to face with the stark realities of sin and death. But we will also witness the death of death and the resurrected life that follows – not only for Jesus, but for all who choose to walk in His way.

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

What is Lent Anyway?

Lent is a season of the church calendar year, specifically, it's the 40-day period leading up to Easter. It begins with Ash Wednesday and culminates with the events of Holy Week (including Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter). The word "lent" is simply an Old English word meaning "spring."

Lent is a time specifically set aside for reflection, repentance, fasting, and fixing our eyes on the cross of Christ.

What are the "Seven Last Words"?

The "Seven Last Words from the Cross" refer to the final statements or "words" which Jesus said from the cross. We generally attribute extra significance to final words one speaks before his/her death, and that is certainly the case here. These "words," which we will unpack over the coming weeks, are:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

“Woman, behold, your son! . . . Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

“I thirst.” (John 19:28)

“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)

Resources for Lent

We hope the following resources will serve to enhance your walk with Christ this Lenten season.

Daily Lenten Readings:

The Lent Project

Preparing Our Hearts for Easter

Lent Playlists on Spotify

Lent Playlist - curated by Kory & Kristen Pence (cont. Christian)

Lent to Maundy Thursday- Page CXVI (contemporary Christian)

Lent Worship Songs - curated by Bobby Giles (cont. Christian)

Exaudiam Eum: Gregorian Chants for Lent & Holy Week - Consortium Vocale (gregorian chants)

Lent - The Forty Day Journey (simple piano music)

THE FIRST WORD:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

"Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots." (Luke 23:32-34)

As we approach the last seven words of Christ, one must do so with the attitude as on bended knee. This approach is rooted in the tension that is held if you have ever been by the bedside of a loved one who is about to pass to glory. Not only can the passing of a loved one be horrible but at the same time, strangely beautiful. This is our picture of Christ’s final words upon his death. The first and last words of Christ are bookended in the prayer, “Father . . . ,” as we hear the first two persons of the Godhead strategizing concerning the salvation of humanity! Let’s hear the first words of Christ.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Has anyone ever hurt you? I mean, really hurt you. As Christ struggles to utter these eternity-changing words, imagine His body ravaged by the whipping from a cat of nine tails, a crown of thorns ripping through His brow, the pain of dull metal hammering through His hands and feet and, finally, the weight of His own body suspended in air with the force of gravity hanging on three nails driven into a cross.

No one has ever hurt me that bad, yet I’ve held onto unforgiveness towards them! However, as it might appear that Christ is forgiving the pain and death being inflicted upon him by the Jewish leaders and the relatively innocent Roman soldiers, the true forgiveness that Christ prays for to the Father is for your sin and mine. The concept of forgiveness of sin is part of the Hebrew people’s worldview, culture, and theology, and is something the audience around the cross would have understood (See Leviticus 16).

There’s only one barrier that keeps us eternally separated from Christ—our sin.

As we enter this Lenten season and reflect on the last words of Christ, be encouraged to get away from our common distractions and meditate on Christ’s prayer on the cross for you—”Father, forgive them”.

________________________

Jacob Myers, Cross-Cultural Worker in Residence, Randall University

Listen/watch and consider the forgiveness extended to you
because of Christ's work on the cross. 

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1661–1669.