During this Lenten season, I have used the “last words” of Jesus as my sermon series. These seven words spoken from the cross were familiar to me – I had heard them many times before. But this is the first time I have preached on them, which means it is the first time I have devoted time, study and prayer to understanding them.
As is often the case with scripture, I have heard these words in a new and deeper way. Behind each word is the character of the one who spoke them. These words serve as a summing up of Jesus’ life and ministry. Someone once told me that people die in the same way they live. This was true for Jesus. His last words speak volumes about who he was, and what he was after!
This Sunday begins our celebration of the last week in Jesus’ life – from his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday until his death on Good Friday. On Good Friday, the world said its final word to God, and it was a word of defiance and rejection. The cross was our loud “no” to Jesus. When Jesus shouted his last cry and died – there was only silence. Deathly silence.
Simon and Garfunkel’s iconic song “Sounds of Silence,” expresses our human condition all too well.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared – disturb the sound of silence.
Good Friday. The silence of each of us talking only to ourselves. The silence of a world left alone without God. The silence of lost hopes and faded dreams. The silence that we are alone in this world…and we might as well get used to it. The silence that tells us to keep quiet in the face of abusive power or suffer the same.
But the silence of Good Friday, which appeared to be final, was answered with another word. A word not expected, a word that could not be hoped for. On Easter God has the last word. His “yes” drowns out our “no.”
I invite you to participate fully in Holy Week – enter the silence, so that you can at last hear God’s “Yes.”