Such a Good Friday!
I hope you don’t mind me re-posting this story from last year.
I recognize today, that I am just as much a sinner as I was one year ago, when this was written.
I need Him as much as ever.
I am as responsible, as anyone, for the price He had to pay.
Pounding hammers and cracking wood echoed through the old Catholic sanctuary. It went on for only 15 or 20 minutes but it seemed so much longer. I sort of knew what might happen when I first walked in and the man at the door handed me a nail. But the longer we sat in the silent service, the less sure I was of what was going on.
The music playing was reminiscent of a Catholic Mass. And I wondered if the nuns, who moved out of this former convent years ago, would be pleased with the ceremony now taking place, with people from many different backgrounds of faith.
On the big modern video screen, hanging up front and to the right, were images of Jesus on the cross. Silently, but together, we read his final words…the last seven things he said.
Then it was time.
A large thick dark wooden cross had been placed on a table at the front of the sanctuary. We were encouraged to go forward, and by driving our nails into the cross, accept that our sins were as responsible for his death as the Roman soldiers who hung Jesus on the cross at Calvary. When I picked up the hammer, my hands were shaking a bit more than I had expected. I placed the nail where I thought his hand might have been if this were the actual crucifixion. I hit the nail three times before I had to let go and walk away. I felt sick and weak and very sad. But, there, at the base of a driftwood cross hanging high on the wall in the center of the church was the welcoming invitation to share the Lord’s Supper.
It changed me.
I thank God I will never be the same because that experience last night changed me. I suspect it changed all of us.
As we walked back to our seats, the sounds of cracking wood and pounding hammers continued for a few minutes and then, once again, precious silence.
We stood and sang the song, “Lord Have Mercy.” Then, everyone ended the evening in silent prayer.
When we walked out into the hallway, it was filled with the voices of families making dinner plans, talking about the weekend and the upcoming Easter services.
We left knowing we will sin again.
But we left free from the burden of sin and free from the price he offered to pay.
The last seven things Jesus said:
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34 NASB
Speaking to the thief who had asked Jesus to remember him, “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 NASB
“When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
John 19:26-27 NASB
“About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ELI, ELI LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
Matthew 27:46 NASB
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28 NASB
He said, “It is finished!” John 19:30 NASB
“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
Luke 23:46 NASB
As a woman and a mother, I think of Mary standing there and the helpless agony she must have felt watching her son die.
But I also think of the lyrics to the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend and I recognize my role in all that happened.
“Behold the Man upon the cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.”
Yes, ladies, it is finished. No guilt, no shame, no more penalties for our sins. He has paid our debt. And the debt is paid in full.