The Last Words of Jesus: A Joint Reflection

The Last Words of Jesus: A Joint Reflection

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In Christ’s last words I am reminded of the observation of one theologian regarding Christ, that there are no words outside the Word...

By Dr. Brian Bantum, D’03
Assistant Professor of Theology
Seattle Pacific University

In Christ’s last words I am reminded of the observation of one theologian regarding Christ, that there are no words outside the Word...In reflecting upon these last words of Christ I am stopped. My speech ends for a moment as I begin to hear how my own words and my own hopes clang against Christ’s words spoken to me and about me, to humanity and about humanity. But rather than being driven to remain in silence, I am compelled to sing. To sing a song that is broken and out of tune even as I seek to sing with these words spoken to us, spoken about us. As I sing, in my tone-deaf desperation to hear the tune, I am left to humbly sing of this…

Only within Christ’s words of forgiveness (“forgive them…”) am I told what I do not know (…for they know not.)

Only within Christ’s words do I find the possibility of God’s presence, of a possibility fulfilled (…you will be with me.)

Only within Christ’s words do I find kinship, a kinship reordered and returned to me, a community gathered together at the foot of the cross (…behold your son, behold your mother.)

Only in Christ’s words do I find God taking my desolation and hopelessness into himself (…why have you forsaken me?)

Only in Christ’s words do I find my own thirst and do I discover the manifold ways I sought to quench my own thirst (I thirst)

Only in Christ’s words do I find my own completion (It is finished)

Only in Christ’s words do I find my end (To you I commit my spirit.)

These last words of Christ draw us not to the finality of a moment, but to the utter completeness of Christ’s words, of the presence of all of his words within these few words. In these brief utterances we find ourselves bound up together in his words concerning us, in his words for us, in his words within us. Let us receive the Word broken for us, the Word broken within us, that our words my sound within the manger of Christ’s body, declaring the depth of his love, the profundity and mystery of his life, God’s Word to us.

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