The Cross as the Ultimate Lifeline

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Gathering

Imagine a time when “the jig is up”—that is, when your hopes or goals had no chance. What was that like for you, coming to terms with giving up hope?

Backstory

A betrayal of justice and loyalty—first by Judas (22:47-53), then by Peter (22:54-62)—serves a prologue to Jesus’s death. An expedited overnight trial before Pontius Pilate (22:66–23:25) brings us to the cross, where Jesus is executed (Luke 23:26-43). That scene, with Jesus hanging between two thieves—one of whom repents and gets to be with Jesus later in Paradise—is the singular ray of hope in this otherwise dark and tragic scenario.

God’s Story

Have one person read Luke 23:44-49.

 

Finding My Story in God’s Story

Given the grisly scene that follows the crucifixion, what do you hear, see, and smell?

 

What do you make of the timing and supernatural elements in this scene?

 

What are you thinking and feeling, as you ponder the meaning of what just happened?

  1. C’est la vie. Win some, lose some, a good run on the wild side while it lasted.
  2. I’m standing in solidarity, such a good man, he did not deserve to die, not like that.
  3. I’m beating my breast, wailing, as this feels more like Black Friday, not Good Friday.
  4. I’m scared, fearing I could be next, but I am not hanging around to find out.
  5. Other ________.

 

Of three types of people mentioned here, describe how each is thinking and feeling.

  1. The centurion (v 47) is thinking and feeling ________.
  2. “All the people who had gathered” (v 48) are thinking and feeling _______.
  3. “All those who knew him” (v 49) are thinking and feeling ________.

 

Put yourself in the place of each. Which one(s) do you most identify with and why?

 

Jesus’ last words are variously recorded by the four Gospel writers. What do you make of each famous saying?

  1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
  2. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 44:46).
  3. “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  4. Jesus’ followers believed he had a special connection with God, but now they watch him die. Recall a time when you felt like God was gone, not there for you. What was (or is) that like for you?
  5. Taken on its own, this scene is tragic.  Yet Christians often refer to the day Jesus died as “Good Friday.”  What is your understanding of why they do that?  What is so “good” about this guy’s death?

 

Our Story

In grief, “those who knew him” stand together in a “watch”—that is, bearing witness and praying. How can you stand in solidarity and in vigil, even now, if/when you feel like there is no hope? 

  1. Share with your group whatever griefs you are bearing alone. 
  2. Close in prayer for one another.
  3. This week, before this group meets again, I commit to praying for ___________.
  4. Invite someone this week to join you on a “watch” or prayer vigil, which is what the early Christians were doing the day after Jesus died, in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
  5. Other

 

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