Sermon for Good Friday -
Seven Last Words of Christ -
Second Word -
Vicar Julie A. Kelly -
Why do these words matter, among so many last words, what is important about what happened to some common criminal dying beside Christ? Why does it matter that Christ responds to him in the midst of the ridicule, angst and agony?
Let’s consider it from another direction, if you were dying, your body torn, bleeding, broken, and exhausted, if every word was excruciating, if the effort to breathe out and to speak felt as though it was ripping your body apart, what would your effort be spent on? Would you use those precious moments, those priceless breathes to speak comfort to a stranger? Would you forgive them and grant them peace as they die beside you?
Probably not. But here, as always, is Jesus, flipping our course of actions on end and showing us we were looking at it all wrong. Of course, he never did things the easy way- that just was not his style. And here, in this moment, this man who symbolizes everything that deserves death is asking for a favor. This thief, this man, this sinner who rightly deserved to die, who participated in the corruption of the government and world --looked at Christ and knew him for who he was and what he was here to do. He understood that all that was wrong would be made right through Christ and in his own tortured breathes, begs of Christ to be remembered.
Now I can think of many ways I want to be remembered, but stripped, flogged and dying on a cross is NOT the way I want you to remember me when things are good and you are reflecting. I don’t want you to remember me as imperfect or sinful. And my guess is, that is a pretty normal reaction.
But this man, this thief, this sinner, is begging to be remembered; to be remembered as one who broke the rules, who deserved to die, who blatantly and openly admits to his sinful broken life. To be remembered by one who has every right to judge him, to condemn him, to relegate him to the darkest depths of hell.
And then this. “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, gasping for breathe, bound by the nature of flesh, wrapped in searing pain speaks a word of comfort, a word of hope, a word of promise.
And that is why this second last word of Christ matters to us. Even broken, especially when broken; even when sinful, significantly more so, salvation is offered, nay, is promised. And it is promised not for tomorrow, but for today, for now, for you, for me.
Julie A. Kelly
Vicar - Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Santa Monica, California
Good Friday - Second Word
Sermon for Good Friday Services
Written by Julie A. Kelly
March 25, 2016
Mt. Olive Lutheran, Santa Monica, California