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Hope from the Cross: Reflections on Jesus’ Seven Last Words

12th May 2013 Christian Books 6 Comments

English Cardinal Basil Hume was beloved all over the world for his pastoral gifts. Before dying of cancer in 1999, he left these meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ on the cross. In each one of these reflections, Cardinal Hume unwraps a gift for us-one that gives us hope even when we are in the midst of pain and difficulty. These last words . . . reveal their secrets slowly, if we meditate on them and pray, Cardinal Hume writes in the introduction. Let those words speak to you, and I will tell you what they have said to me. Includes: Short meditations that speak powerfully to the heart An inspiring gift, especially for those who are in difficult circumstances Can be used through Lent or at any time of the year. Author: Cardinal Basal Hume Format: Paperback, 80 pages Publisher: Word Among Us Press ISBN: 9781593251772

Hope from the Cross: Reflections on Jesus’ Seven Last Words

  • 6 responses to "Hope from the Cross: Reflections on Jesus’ Seven Last Words"

  • Greg Bowen
    2:08 on May 12th, 2013
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    The Seven Last Words from the Cross come from the various pieces in the gospel stories of the crucifixion. They are, according to the King James Version, as follows:

    ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ (Luke 23:34)

    ‘Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23: 43)

    ‘Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!’ (John 19:27)

    ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (found in Mark 15: 34 and Matthew 27:46, also in Psalm 22:1)

    ‘I thirst.’ (John 19:28)

    ‘It is finished.’ (John 19:30)

    ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ (Luke 23:46, also Psalm 31)

    Fleming Rutledge, a priest in the Episcopal church, has developed this small book based on meditations on these seven words from Jesus. These are statements that have been used as inspiration for meditation and works of art in the many centuries since the time of the crucifixion, and remain inspiring texts to this day. Rutledge developed these as meditations for the Three Hours of Good Friday, and delivered them in churches in Columbus, Georgia in 2002 and Boston, Massachusetts in 2003.

    Such services on Good Friday usually involve hymns; Rutledge has incorporated stanzas from various hymns to give the reader a fuller sense of the services. However, these reflections stand alone very well.

    Rutledge is skillful at incorporating the modern with the ancient, the timely with the timeless. Through it all, she relates the crucifixion with honesty and detail to the our lives. Her method is fairly inductive; however, it tends to start and end with the words of Jesus. Rutledge makes the claim that we are in the grip of something we cannot fully comprehend, but that the prayers of Jesus, even as he was undergoing humiliation and degradation on the cross, reach something deep inside of us even to this day, and pierce through the darkness in ways that no other event could do.

    Rutledge relates the aspects of the individual gospels as well as the collective memories – for example, all four gospellers recall that Jesus was crucified among thieves, common criminals; on the other hand, not all gospellers record the same words, so the fullness of the seven words comes from taking all the stories together, even in the paradox of our sometimes difficult task in reconciling the events as recorded.

    Perhaps the most beautiful aspects of Rutledge’s work are when she gives her personal memories, or personal stories shared by others. She recalls in the text that she had a particular theology professor who tragically lost his only son, his only child, at a relatively young age; the professor put to words his grief and task in life in terms of these statements of Jesus – we live our lives, he said, between ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,’ and ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’

    On this Good Friday, may your spirit be blessed. Rutledge’s book is a blessing during the passion, during Eastertide, and at any point in the year.

  • AndroidDoesn't
    4:06 on May 12th, 2013
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    Small book – yet powerful words that really make you think. I plan on passing this book on when I am done because I really think it needs to be shared with more people. Perfect for Lent!

  • BobAB
    9:33 on May 12th, 2013
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    Fleming Rutledge is an Episcopal priest, and a well known preacher and teacher in more progressive mainline circles. I recently read her series of sermons on the passion entitled THE SEVEN LAST WORDS FROM THE CROSS. I found her writing compelling, thoughtful, and insightful.

    Each meditation begins with the Scripture text, moves on to her sermon, and ends with a hymn that brings the message of the text into song. My favorite of her mediations is the “Behold thy Mother…Behold thy Son” message. In this particular section of the book, she very clearly defines what she is NOT trying to communicate, and then very forcefully makes her case for what she does want to communicate. Her insights helped me understand the passage in a new way.

    If you want a Good Friday reflection that is both briefly written and deftly insightful, pick up this book by Rutledge. You will not be disappointed.

  • Len Stauffenger
    19:30 on May 12th, 2013
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    I enjoyed reading this book. It was thought provoking and challenged my personal relationship with Jesus. I received this book right before Easter. It was perfect timing.

  • Cris Moman
    6:35 on May 13th, 2013
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    One of the great traditions of the Christian Church is to take time, during Holy Week, to reflect upon the words that Jesus spoke from the Cross. Sometimes, this happens in a three hour service on Good Friday, in which the combination of the crucifixion accounts in the four Gospels are read and interpreted in turn. Out of this tradition, Fleming Rutledge has created a series of mediations that are helpful for personal reading, reflection and devotional use at any time of the year.

    The author, the Rev. Dr. Fleming Rutledge, is a widely acclaimed preacher, who for many years served as the preaching pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in New York City. She now devotes her vocational life to a nationwide ministry of preaching, writing and teaching.

    A friend in ministry recommended her writings to me, and having begun reading them, I must say that I am hooked and think you will be as well. In this slim volume, she expounds upon each of the seven words, to help the reader reflect upon what Jesus said as He died upon the cross, from “Father, forgive them” to “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit”. Even the most familiar of these passages receives fresh treatment under Rutledge’s scrutiny. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Rutledge seeks to acquaint the reader with the deep pain and humiliation of crucifixion, making the contrast of Jesus’ words of hope, inspiration and promise from the cross all the more gripping.

    As those who have read Dr. Rutledge’s other collections of sermons know, she is a gifted wordsmith, but her engaging words are surpassed by her rock-solid theology. Dr. Rutledge might be called a traditionalist; her Christology is high and Presbyterians will find much in it to help elevate their own views of who Jesus is and what His saving work means for us. Rutledge does not hesitate to show us the gritty reality of the cross, nor does she eschew disclosing the coarse realities of our own time. For instance, “Sin is not a misdeed here and a misdeed there, but an autonomous, enslaving Power. The Apostle Paul is very clear about this: `All human beings,’ he writes, `both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.’ (Rom. 3:9). In our own time, however, we have done our best to get rid of this idea.” (page 42). Contrasted with these are the forceful messages and powerful accomplishments of Christ that make salvation possible for us: “On the Cross, Jesus voluntarily and willingly bowed His head to the power of sin…” (page 44).

    This book is small but mighty. Each of the meditations conclude with a hymn, some familiar and some new, to assist the reader’s reflection upon each of the scripture passages. Not only a prized work in itself, this volume could serve as an introduction to all of Rutledge’s books, perhaps the best known of which is The Bible and The New York Times.

  • ramaimji
    13:12 on May 13th, 2013
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    I found this book very inspiring. It isn’t very lengthy, but covers many different view-points of the seven sayings on the cross.
    Each saying is disected carefully. The origins of the words, the greek origins, the cross-references with the old testament are all there.

    It’s also interesting to have small illustrations to emphasis the point and this book as quite a few of them as well.

    Very well written book. If you quickly want to read-up on the seven sayings, then this a book to read.

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