Jesus prayed seven brief prayers from the cross. When he opened His mouth, He shattered the gates of hell and opened the gates of His kingdom.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” By taking our sin into His being, He experienced the abandonment of His Father. We experience the perceived abandonment of God when we run into life’s dead ends: where there are unanswered questions and wrong turns. It is the kind of death that we die a thousand times when we feel cut off, when we no longer belong, and when there’s no explanation. Thankfully, this is Christ’s first statement from the cross and not His last. He keeps praying.
“Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” All of us are desperately ignorant of the consequences and the ramifications of our sin. In praying this way, Jesus trains us in the way of compassion. Justice is important, but it is not the last word. Love gives coherence in the midst of the chaos surrounding the cross.
“Truly, today you will be with me in paradise.” This statement was authoritative, immediate, and unqualified. Eternity will not be so much as a perpetual future as it will be the perpetual presence of Christ. The surety we have about dying is that Jesus will be there.
“Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” From the initial experience of being abandoned by God, Christ now abandons Himself to God. This is a cosmic crash of heaven and hell. This prayer is a no-questions-asked readiness to leave matters in the hands of His Father. This is not “giving in,” it is “entering in” to the work of salvation.
“Woman, here is you son…Here is your mother.” Crisis will disorient us. Everything seems surreal and/or unreal. We have to process layers of meaning. When Jesus speaks these words to Mary and John, He pulls them back to familiar ground. When difficult times occur, we should focus on those in our periphery. See who is there; get to know them; they are there on purpose.
“I thirst.” Jesus is aware that the work He was sent to accomplish is nearly completed. It is at this time that He reveals His intense physical pain and agony. We need to understand that our physical bodies are dying daily.
“It is finished!” Tetelastai! Accomplished, whole, and complete. It happened at Creation, and now it happens in redemption. If He starts a work in us, He will bring it to completion.
This concludes our incredible journey with Christ as He prayed.