Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Seven Last Words of Christ

Last week I had the opportunity to hear a string quartet presentation of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Last Seven Words of Christ on the Cross. The musical piece is a series of sonatas for each of the seven phrases uttered by Christ during his final hours. During the chamber music presentation, various audio clips of various preachers preceded the different sonatas. Words by Evangelist Billy Graham and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. were among the excerpts.

As the sonatas approach the end, the final comments by Christ were particularly compelling – “It is finished” (John 19:30) and “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

At the close of the sonatas all you hear is a single musical note being plucked on a string instrument. Initially, it sounded like a rapidly beating heart dealing with the agony of crucifixion. The heart beats slowed, and the time between beats begins to grow longer, then more intermittent, and culminating with a final single, solitary beat.

Stillness followed. It was over. Christ was dead. It was a somber moment intensified by the moving Haydn music, even in its silence. I found myself wanting to gasp for more air.

On Good Friday, we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But as believers, we know it’s not over. Yes, Christ died, but there’s more to the story! On that day, we also wait with anticipation for greater things.

There is Resurrection Sunday. There is personal redemption for those who believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Even in silence, the voice of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross can still speak volumes.
Robert Parlante
Good Friday 2017

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