Message from the cross
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
With these words from St Luke’s Gospel Chapter 23, Verse 34, Sister Nova Williams led the four-member team of ministers who shared the message of the Cross during the Good Friday Day service at the Fairview Church of the Nazarene, Christ Church.
With a mixture of choruses and hymns being sung throughout the service led by District Superintendent Reverend Dr Orlando Seale, tribute after tribute was paid to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who willingly died on the Cross to save mankind from sin.
Williams described the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as the greatest and most significant prayer in the history of mankind.
“These were the first words uttered from the cross, asking the Father for forgiveness for the entire human race. He asked God to forgive those who were putting Him to death,” Williams pointed out.
She said this prayer showed God’s conditional love for mankind; His forgiving nature and His reconciling power – “which allows us to become children of God”.
In her homily, Sister Dorothy Smith centred her message on the words “Today, thou shall be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43.
Smith noted that as Jesus hung on the Cross, He was between two thieves who were suffering the same death He did – crucifixion – but were different in character.
She said while one thief questioned Jesus’ authority and wanted to come down from his cross, the other asked Jesus for forgiveness.
“When this man called Jesus Saviour, he became a Son of God. He received the new birth and gained entry into paradise,” Smith added.
She said our attitude towards Jesus’ death on the Cross could either result in eternal life with Christ, or eternal damnation in Hell.
Reverend Dr Seale, the third preacher, chose Matthew 27, Verses 45 and 46, as his text and spoke on these words: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“Very often when challenges come to us, our midday can turn into a midnight experience. This experience of Jesus as He hung on the Cross was the ultimate test of His humanity,” he explained.
“The Devil used the strategy of making Jesus believe that God had forsaken Him.
“The devil did not want Jesus to die,” Seale preached, and on Golgotha’s Hill that day he was making the last attempt at the eleventh hour to stop Jesus from dying for mankind.”
Seale stressed: “Like Jesus, it is when we are at the crossroads of life that we wonder why and if it is worth the sacrifices we have to make, but God honours His Word, and He will never forsake us.
“If we want the reward and glory, we must be willing to put in the sacrifice [as Jesus did], and reap the glory of the Cross.”
The final speaker, Brother Henderson Browne, urged his listeners to recognize that the penalty for sin was paid by Jesus on the Cross, when he cried out “Teleo, teleo” – “It is finished”.
He said Jesus’ death signalled that He had completed the course that had been laid out for Him: dying on the Cross to free mankind from sin and thereby paying the debt for sin in full.
The sharing of Holy Communion and special ministry in song also formed part of the special Good Friday service.