HOLY THURSDAY – APRIL 9TH
Eleventh Station — Jesus Stretches Out His Hands to be Nailed to the Cross
Prayer was very much a part of the Passover Meal. Listen to part of the prayer of Jesus recorded by the Apostle John (17).
When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you …
They [disciples] do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.
Just hours separate this prayer of Jesus from his meeting of his executioners on Calvary. The sentiments he expressed in this prayer certainly continue in his mind and now the prayer goes on as they nailed him to the cross: Father, forgive them know not what they do (Luke 23:34). The mercy of God is at work throughout the whole of the Passion accounts. This is the merciful love in the prayer of Jesus above. Jesus is totally immersed in the Father’s love for him since the foundation of the world. Jesus prays that we accept the love of the Father for us and he prays that his executioners accept that forgiving love as well. So the whole event of nailing Jesus to the cross is a lesson in mercy. Jesus learned from his Father to regard people not by appearances alone but to look into the depths of their reality. So here Jesus does not gaze upon the soldiers merely as soldiers doing their duty but as sons of God, called by him to eternal covenant union in his loving presence. That is where his prayer comes from. This is the truth for which he prays in the passage from John above. The amazing thing — to the glory of God — that runs throughout Jesus’ passion is that his commitment to his Father in the depths of his soul directs his words and actions even under these unusual circumstances. He forgives his executioners; he prays to his loving Father while on the cross; he shows a heavenly love for his mother; he hands over his spirit to the Father. He never forgets who he is in the sight of his Father. The nailing to the cross is not separate from all that is going on. There is a consistency in God’s plan and a consistency of love in all that Jesus does, including offering his hands to be nailed — from the depths of his soul he freely and lovingly accepts the cross according to the Father’s will. It is all for the glory of God and our salvation, just as Jesus had prayed.
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