Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Seven miles for seven words

For many of us, as Easter approaches we are compelled to consider the broader implications of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Many people who I know will start that process by fasting during Lent, a period of time that starts on Ash Wednesday (40 days—minus Sundays) before Easter. Lent is a time of repentance, and introspection, but alongside the somber moments, we also celebrate that Jesus was able to resist Satan’s tempting offers, and in doing so set the stage for His eventual defeat of sin and death.
And then comes Good Friday.  The humiliation, the torture, and eventually the death on the cross of Jesus. It was a horrible death, and just the evening before Jesus had spent time praying that the cup be taken from Him, but when the answer was ‘no’ he showed himself, again, to be the obedient Son, as he went to the cross.
Any of us would have reacted quite differently to the cross than did Jesus. And the 7 last ‘words’ – the statements that he made give us quite a bit to think about as we prepare for the joyous celebration of Resurrection Sunday. Stephen Furtick takes his title (Seven-Mile Miracle: Journey into the Presence of God through the Last Words of Jesus (Multnomah, 2017) from the Emmaus walk—7 miles to Jerusalem—that two of the disciples made after the crucifixion and the mystery of the resurrection (they left town before Jesus made his appearance known) (see Luke 24:13)

One word or phrase for each mile on our journey to understanding what Jesus had to say to his followers on that first “Good Friday”.
The events of the day start at about 9:00 am, and by noon Jesus has made several statements. He asks that his tormentors be forgiven, he promises salvation, and he tells us about being adopted into the family of God.   Then at about noon, things start to heat up, and Jesus cries out to God, why am I feeling so alone? I’m thirsting for you. Then the cry of triumph: It is finished—I’ve done everything we set out to do, and finally that joyful reunion with God: into your hands I commit my spirit.
Each chapter consists of two parts: a basic discussion of the ‘word’ itself and some questions to help us think though that part of the crucifixion story, and then what could almost be called a sermon on the theme. 
Several years ago Multnomah published a DVD and participants guide to walk people through the seven last words.  It’s still available from on-line retailers
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review.


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