As ISIS builds their terrorism resume and the world reacts in anger, I’m reminded of Christ’s continuing ministry upon the cross. While the crowd watched Jesus upon the cross they felt he was talking to God as though he was making his case to get into heaven. But he wasn’t. In Matthew 27 (and Mark 17)
45 (34) Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?)
34″Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
and again, when a thief asked that he be remembered, Christ responded
43 “ Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
46 “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” ; John 19:30 “It is finished”
26-27 “Woman, behold thy son! Brother behold thy Mother!”
Let’s start at the beginning. It’s such an odd statement, isn’t it? But this is the quote of the beginning of a Psalm (22 to be exact). The Psalm is not just a teaching though, it is the final thoughts of Christ upon the Cross. Seriously, look at the Psalm, see any parallels to his crucifixion? It should, because it’s a prophecy of what was taking place. Instead of reciting the whole of the Psalm, Christ points it out for others to read and stare in awe that the prophecy had been fulfilled, and it brings us to a knowledge of Christ’s final view of his role. To Christ, his role was nothing- but God’s role was ever present in his life. It’s a profound understanding of just where we also need to put ourselves in order to allow God’s glory into the world.
But it’s the other parts of his speech that intrigue me, especially in the growing insanity of the Middle East that is making it’s way to other nations- Christ spoke of truly only two things: Others and God. Psalm 22 was regarding God’s glory. In another he glorified God demonstrating that the crucifixion was not at the control of those which put him upon the Cross, but God’s. Every other thing he said was for the plight of others.
He looked out for his mother. Gave her someone that would comfort her, and his brother would have someone that he could take care of. Which was quite important for their grieving process. In another verse he forgives and grants salvation to a thief.
And the truly inspiring quote is one that a few weeks ago I found myself asking the following in regards to: In that final moment, when a Christian is praying to God and ISIS murders them- are they asking God of themselves? Or are they asking God to forgive their transgressor?
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Christ’s words are at the heart of the discussion on prayer in the face of an adversary. Surrounded by those which sought to have him killed, Christ looked upon them all, and turned to God to plead with Him that He take mercy upon them. That Christ as a sacrifice would be the only thing that was needed for them to have an opportunity to find God again without the binding of meticulous servitude which had become nothing more than monotonous ritual. In just three days, Christ would be able to bring a full understanding of his message on the Cross that day- but we don’t have that in a similar situation. Our lives are not meant to return here unless God deems the necessity for a miracle of restoring our lives before the non-believers.
There is just one opporunity when a Christian is facing certain death at the hands of a murderer. If we take the lesson of Christ on the Cross, we see that the ultimate compassion of his entire life were his final prayers, when he cried for their amnesty.