Following last week’s Part One, here are some thoughts on the last five sentences spoken by Jesus from the Cross and how these can relate to His animal creation, as well as to humankind.
As stated last week, this post is based on the Good Friday Prayer Vigil held for several years outside the notorious Hazleton Laboratories in Harrogate, by May Tripp of Animal Christian Concern.
We begin where we left off….
3. “Woman, this is your son….this is your mother” (John 19 v 26-27)
Jesus wanted His mother and His disciple, John, to love and support each other as though they were mother and son.
In the same way, He cares for us and wants those of us who have been given the special task of loving and supporting His animal creatures in their suffering, to help and encourage one another.
Campaigners for animals have a heavy cross to bear. As well as learning about the horrors of legal and commercial animal abuse, we also have to endure opposition, indifference and ridicule.
But Jesus has commissioned us to carry this Cross (Matthew 10 v 38) and we must share it with Him; and with each other, arming ourselves with prayer in this fight against evil (Ephesians 6 v 10-18).
4. “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabach Thani?…My God, My God, Why Have You DesertedMe?” (Matthew 27 v 46)
When God came to earth in Jesus and took on the flesh shared by humans and animals, His one purpose was to redeem all His creatures from the disastrous effects of the Fall. The Cross can be seen as a symbol of the world’s cruelty and separation from God (Genesis 3), which even Jesus had to feel as He bore our sin at Calvary. Fully God, yet fully human, on the Cross in His physical body, Jesus had to suffer the agony of separation from His loving Father, a suffering and a separation He shares with the whole creation.
Our sins and worldliness separate us from God. Laboratory animals and factory farm animals, like Jesus on the Cross, know the loneliness of separation from love. Humankind has the God-given task of being a loving father to them but, instead, causes them to suffer these evils, and feel deserted.
These words are also the beginning of Psalm 22, which ends in victory, “They shall praise the Lord, . . . May their hearts live for ever and ever”.
God’s animals share Jesus’ pain and will share in His promise of redemption; and the victory of the Cross.
5. “I am thirsty” (John 19 v 28)
Jesus brings the life-giving water of the Holy Spirit, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4 v 14).
Jesus, dying on the Cross, cried out in thirst, sharing not only in our physical need of water, but in our spiritual need of the life-giving springs of reunion with God.
Laboratory animals and factory farm animals, share with Jesus a terrible thirst. They are denied the freedom of the natural environment God gave them and also the company of their own kind or of a caring human companion.
Like Jesus on the Cross, however, they are on their way home to God, the Father, whose love for them is assured, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven by making Peace through His blood, shed on the Cross” (Colossians 1 v 19-20).
6. “It is accomplished” (John 19 v 30)
Jesus was born in earthly flesh, not just to live, but to die. On this Cross, He shared the failure, pain, anguish and physical death of His suffering creation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3 v 16).
Jesus longs for us to ask Him to come into our hearts and live within us as Risen Lord, but will not enter unless we open our hearts to Him.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in . . .” (Revelation 3 v 20). Animals do not have the responsibility of making a choice for Christ, for an eternity within the love of God. They are innocent of humankind’s original sin and their redemption is assured.
If we now look NOT at the Cross, but at the throne of judgement, where Jesus stands, “a Lamb looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5 v 6), surrounding His throne is the whole of creation. “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To Him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ (Revelation 5 v 13)”. Here, Christ’s work on earth is finished – “It is accomplished”. For an excellent sermon on this, see ‘The Lion And The Lamb’ by Greg Boyd, Senior Pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St Paul, Minnesota.
7. “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” (Luke 23 v 46)
As Jesus drew His last breath with these words, He was reunited with God, the Father, and was then able to breathe His Holy Spirit upon the whole creation. Through Jesus, we may now recognise God, the Father. Victorious over death, resurrected and reunited with God, the Spirit of Jesus can live within us and reunite us with God.
Part Two of the video from “The Passion Of The Christ”:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12 v 24).
Humankind does reject Jesus though and will face judgement for this. “Whoever rejects Me and does not accept My message, has One who will judge him. The words I have spoken will be his judge on the last day” (John 12 v 47-48).
As we are all part of fallen humanity, none of us are without sin and we must always be penitent of this.
But the sin which goes on behind the scenes in vivisection laboratories, factory farms, bloodsports, fur farms, entertainment etc., is gross. It is committed, not only against the animals, but against God, their Creator, and for each animal tortured and killed, we crucify Christ Jesus afresh.
The picture below shows the Risen Jesus knocking at the door of our hearts (Revelation 3 v 20). There is no handle on the outside, depicting that only we can let Him in from the inside. For more symbolic information on this painting go here.
Thank you for reading! Your thoughts are welcome. ~Ros