The seventh word of Jesus which He spoke on the cross was read by the Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, Most. Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh during the Good Friday service held at the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life camp Abuja. He said that Jesus spoke these words with the assurance that He had someone waiting for Him at the other side. He therefore asked the congregation, who was waiting for them at the other side?
According to the Primate, the first thing that comes to mind after hearing these words is that there is life after death. He supported this point by citing instances in the Scriptures where life after death was made visible. For instance, he cited the story of Lazarus and the rich man; where they both had a discussion after death. Archbishop Okoh opined that the nearest anyone of them had come to the dying experience is sleep adding that when one is asleep, one is oblivious of all that is taking place around oneself. Hence, he concluded that it takes courage for one to approach death. He equated death to travelling to a strange city where you have not been to before and stated that unless somebody is waiting for you, you are bound to have some anxiety. Again, he asked the people, who was waiting for them on the other side adding that life after death requires some preparation.
Archbishop Okoh stated that Jesus died with an outstretched arm to extend an invitation to sinners to come to Him. He further said that the invitation is for all, no matter the level of indebtedness and sinfulness. Quoting copiously from the Bible, the Primate said that Jesus is calling all who labour and are heavy laden that they may receive rest from family problems, spiritual troubles, anxieties about life and struggles for daily living. He explained that Christ’s death opens the gate of paradise to God Himself and it is in Him that people will find satisfaction, pleasantness and true life.
He drew the attention of the congregation to the fact that people live as though they are not aware that there is hope after death. The Cleric said that the type of animosity and the issues people raise today about life against their brothers and sisters show that they don’t have hope after this world. He added that people are so desperate for power and material possession that they are willing to do anything, including causing bodily harm to other individuals. Thus, Archbishop Okoh stated that people need faith to commit their lives to God; to His love and wisdom, so as to have eternal peace, which cannot be got in this world. Permanent security, he said, can only be got from God.
In summary of the events that took place before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Primate Okoh made mention that a terrible injustice was vetted on Jesus. And in all these things, he said, Jesus did not defend Himself or use His resources to challenge His accusers; Christ bore the pain and chose to commit His Spirit to the one in whom He had life. Archbishop Okoh pointed out two very striking actions that occurred during the trials and crucifixion of Jesus; they include the ingratitude of the people and Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins.
According to the Cleric, the fact that the people were still willing to accuse Jesus falsely, despite all the good things He had done for them shows ingratitude. But to him, what was most difficult was the ease with which Jesus forgave the people inspite of the pain He was going through. Primate Okoh added that we must appreciate our human limitations and side by side place the immeasurable love of God for His creatures and say, “I know I am not capable of doing it on my own, so please help me God.”
He commended all those who took the other meditations and concluded his message by calling on all Christians to commit their lives to God as they go through the Good Friday meditations; because Jesus knows the way, for He has been there before and can help them through difficulties and issues they cannot understand; and where they fail because they are not God, only Christ can help them. He further emphasized that Christians were nothing but caricatures trying to imitate the way of Christ, therefore they must embrace Christ; for in His righteousness are believers made righteous and in His life do they find completeness.
By Ngozi Maduoma