During Holy Week we remember what Jesus endured on the last week of his earthly life. Why? Why did Jesus have to suffer and die in this this way? What does it really mean?
What follows are appropriate Scripture readings during the last hours of Christ’s life. In between are excerpts from letters received by our ministry. Each letter shares an example of suffering and anguish.
My hope is for the Scripture and the letters to provide, not easily digestible answers but something to slowly chew on and meditate over.
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die in this way? What does it really mean?
Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. (Luke 22:41-43)
“It has been 15 years since my first abortion. I have recently been coming to terms with my past and it scares me. I remember the first one pretty vividly. I remember the date, sights and sounds and the smell. The other two, I have no memory at all. I need help with forgiveness but it is a daily struggle.”
A servant girl noticed Peter in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t know the man.” (Luke 22:55-56)
“I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face, thankful to Jesus after hours of surfing the net and typing in the words ‘Christian & Divorce’ over and over again. I’ve been reading endless opinions (mostly condemnation and hopelessness) feeling that perhaps my best bet would be to drive my car over a bridge rather than face the rest of my life as a divorced Christian woman who left her 20 year marriage. I read about your divorce recovery and God caused a tiny glimmer of hope to rise up in me. I love the Lord with all my heart. When I originally left my husband of 20 years I was not thinking of divorce but things have escalated to a point of no return and the divorce is now final. I can’t go back but emotionally, I can’t go forward either. I am hurting so badly because like many Christians, I never believed this would happen to me. I just need to know that Jesus can take the ashes of my life and restore me. I want to believe that the grace of God can extend to even me. I have always taught others of this grace but now I question it for myself. Please pray for me.”
Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
“I am the 33 year-old Kindergarten teacher who stumbled upon your website as I continued my struggle to develop my faith in God and Jesus. I asked you to pray that I would find my way to God and let Jesus into my heart. I told you of my struggles and conflicting thoughts and feelings and asked for help through prayer. Thanks to your website, I received at least a dozen responses. I never expected to have people write and try to help me. The support and advice given to me by complete strangers was nothing short of miraculous. When I sent my prayer request to you, my faith in God and mankind was at an all-time low. Being a Kindergarten teacher, when every day I try to instill positive moral values and beliefs in my kids and teach them the importance of being kind and polite to each other — you can imagine the torment my soul was in. I am learning the value of “praying without ceasing,” and I am slowly beginning to develop a relationship with God and Jesus. Thank you.”
One of the criminals hanging beside Jesus, scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah are you? Prove it by saving yourself – and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“I asked you to pray because I thought I had done things that could not be forgiven. Well, I want to thank every one of you that took the time to pray. I went to church and accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. Guess what? He forgave me. I feel so wonderful now. I went to church not even thinking about getting saved. We were in the middle of praise and worship and I cannot even tell you the song we were singing. It was like the room got quiet and I was sitting there arguing with myself. Then the most wonderful thing happened. I said one last time: ‘He will not forgive me.’ Then I heard a voice that said, ‘Yes I will.’ I never felt so light headed in all my life.”
Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die this way? What does it really mean?
Jesus shouted: “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”
May we learn to do the same. Only then, can we truly appreciate Easter morning and Jesus’ resurrection.