The Seven Last Words-The First Word, part one

Can you recall the seven of our Lord's last words on the cross? These 'seven words'-brief sentences spoken by Him-give us our Savior's sacred parting instructions, messages intended not only for their few immediate listeners on the hill of Calvary, but spoken to all generations by way of Holy Scripture. Nothing that our Lord said or did is without meaning for each of us today. Despite Jesus' agony on the cross, these words do not express desperation or anger, but rather the strength of a person in full command of His faculties to the very end. These seven last phrases are abounding with that immense and far more than human love for us which was unquenchable in our Lord, even by torture and the approach of death. John exemplifies this in chapter 13, verse 1 when he says: "He loved them unto the end."

Over the next few weeks I'll share, an artistic journey from art masters, depicting Christs's last days. I hope you'll return for each post! Let us begin with the first word--

"Father , forgive them; for they know not what they do."

Two others also, who were criminals , were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23: 32-34)

John 19 tells us, when "Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the Man!" (John 19:5). With these words Pontius Pilate was referring to the figure of Jesus as the Man of Sorrows, despised and rejected. This is how artists in the Flemish town of the Bruges from the early sixteenth century have captured the scene. Other translations use the words "behold the Man!" instead of here is the man. This may also be indicating Jesus as the revelation of the mystery of the nature of humanity, the Representative Man.