On Sunday we began our series of Lent, “The Seven Last Words of Jesus”. We are looking at the seven last sayings Jesus utters prior to his death. For Lent we want to pause, reflect, repent, and not rush through the dark to Easter. Instead, we want to pause with Jesus and reflect on what his death means before entering into the joy of Easter. Without pausing before Easter, Easter can seem like any other day. This is why the practice of Lent, and the focus on Jesus is so crucial.
So we began our series by looking at the first two sayings in the book of John: “Woman, behold your son. Son, Behold your mother.” (John 19:26–27) and “I thirst.” (John 19:28).
The first of Jesus’ saying is really quite moving. Pain has a tendency to shrink people’s worlds’ to just their own needs. But this isn’t what we see in Jesus. While he is in pain, he is seeking to take care of his mother. He wants to ensure that she is protected and supported. Jesus, as he is dying, is still thinking of others. And this is beautiful.
William Barclay the great commentator wrote:
There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus in the agony of the cross, in the moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in the days when he was taken away. Jesus never forgot the duties that lay to his hand.
And that is true.
From there we hear Jesus cry out, “I thirst”. John makes it clear that this is connected to two prophecies in the Psalms, and this is true. But one cannot simply focus on the fulfillment of the Psalms without also acknowledging that Jesus’ thirst was not metaphorical. Jesus was thirsty, Jesus was in agony, Jesus was suffering. Sometimes we jump over Jesus’ humanity, and think only of the “spiritual suffering” he must have experienced or that Jesus was spared from human suffering. But the incarnation and John here reminds us of something important: our God suffers.
And this matters tremendously. This matters because if you suffer, God knows that same feeling. This matters because it teaches us that while there is suffering in the world, God himself is not exempt from suffering. God does not remain a distance from suffering, but enters into it to free us from it.
So it is crucial to remember that the thirst Jesus feels not only fulfills prophecy, but is also real. He suffers with us, so that he can free us.
From here we landed on the main point for this sermon: That Jesus knows what it is to suffer, and while we suffer reminds us of his love.
This is what these two words of Jesus remind us of. That Jesus is one who knows what it is to suffer, but he also in suffering gives love and protection. That’s what Jesus does for Mary, in his suffering and in hers, he gives her a tangible reminder of his love – a disciple to support her.
The point is that Jesus knows what it is to suffer, and he knows how, while we suffer, we need a reminder of his love.
We ended the sermon with a time of prayer and contemplation – because I firmly believe that while we are studying the “Seven Last Words of Jesus” these are not his last words. Jesus still speaks, and can still speak. And if while he is dying he notices those he loves and cares for them, he can surely do that now and today. So we ended with a time of prayer to simply listen for what Jesus might say to us. To imagine we are there with Mary and to simply notice Jesus noticing us. To notice Jesus noticing us, and to listen because our God who died, is still speaking, still caring, still entering into suffering, and changing lives. And it begins by noticing him, noticing us, and listening.
Big Idea: Jesus suffers with us, and in our suffering gives us a reminder of his love
- Challenge for Lent: 1) Pray Weekly Prayers of Repentance, 2) Pray Daily Corporate Prayers 2 Chronicles 7:14, 3) Fast Something for Lent
- Jesus death was a political death
- Another important point is that Jesus’ death was a political death. If you ask the crucial theological question – why was Jesus killed? – the answer isn’t “Because God want us to love one another.” Why would anyone kill Jesus for that? That’s stupid. It’s not even interesting. Why Jesus gets killed? Because he challenged the powers that be. Stanley Hauerwas
- Pain seems to shrink people’s worlds, but not Jesus’.
- There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus, in the agony of the cross, in the moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in the days when he was taken away. Jesus never forgot the duties that lay to his hand. William Barclay
- Jesus was and is human.
- Jesus knows what it is to suffer.
- God is not exempt from suffering.
- God is a suffering God
- Even as Jesus is suffering he is also caring and protecting.
- That in suffering, Jesus suffers, and reminds us of his love.
- Suffering does not mean God is not with us, It means God is suffering with us.
- Jesus cannot suffer with you, and change your suffering unless you let him in.
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you practiced Lent before? What can you fast or give up this year? What must Mary be thinking as she sees her son on the cross? Have you ever thought about Jesus’ suffering before? What does it make you feel when you think about it? Why do you believe the fact that God suffers is meaningful? What did Jesus say to you?
Discussion Questions for Young Families
Rather than just discussing this story with your kids, why not put it into practice a little bit. Think of a tangible reminder of your love you can give your kids: maybe a ring, necklace, a book, a teddy bear – something that will mean something to them. And give it to them, and share how you care for them, and how it’s a reminder of your love. Then remind them of how God does the same thing for us when we are hurting.
Challenge for the Week: Listen for Jesus, and notice him, noticing you.