LAST WORDS OF JESUS (Luke 23:32-46)
Jesus urges us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us that we “may be sons of [our] Father in Heaven.”(Matthew 5:43-44 and Luke 6:27,34). Most people are capable of loving those who are good to them, but the person blessed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit is able to love even his enemies.
In Luke 23, we find the final words of the Son of God. After Jesus was crucified, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” After bearing the mockery of the crowds and the unsaved criminal, Jesus offered pardon and eternal life to the repentant thief on the cross beside him. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus assures him. When darkness came over the whole land because the sun stopped shining and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He then breathed his last.
Forgiveness, pardon, absolute faith, and trust in the power of God—these were Jesus’ final acts. His final words and attitudes are a model for us in our treatment of others and in our faith in God. Are we able to respond to this challenge in actual living and daily practice? When we are belittled, made fun of, alone, afraid, given bitter “vinegar” to meet our deepest needs, will we be able to follow Jesus’ example? Or do we respond with self-defense, anger, hatred, doubt, bitterness, withdrawal, and despair?
When evil penetrates the inmost recesses of our mind, where is our hope? When there seems to be no reasonable course of action, what do we do? Holding fast to the love of God through Christ Jesus, are we able to love, forgive, offer hope to our enemies, and trust God even though we die?
Only the love of God in our hearts allows victory over evil, sin, and death. Only the power of the Living Word of God from the Bible applied to our own situations will see us through life’s worst battles with evil. Only the Holy Spirit carried in our hearts assures our spiritual survival and our kindness to others along our way. Prayer, praise, and loving acts of service for the sake of Jesus keep us faithful to the end. “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” says the Master as he takes our hands and leads us into the eternal light of His Love.