Stu Epperson, the author of the book “Last words of Jesus,” takes us back 2000 years ago to the first Holy Week and the most profound words ever spoken from the lips of a ‘dying’ man.
But are those words still relevant today in an era of ever-increasing vitriol in politics today? S
tu Epperson answers this question and more.
Orethapedia: Are the words spoken so long ago still relevant today?
Stu Epperson Jr.: Great question! It’s the same reason why millions around the world celebrate Holy Week. Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t just any other man, He was God in the flesh whose expressed mission was to bring about hope, healing and deliverance then and now, even amidst our current political, racial, and global upheaval. That’s why He died on that cross and rose from the dead.
Orethapedia: How do Jesus’s final dying words directly address the angry attacks and hate that is so prominent today race, road rage, and politics?
Stu Epperson Jr.: Jesus said 7 eternally profound things as He was dying on the cross. Each word was timeless and each addresses every challenge we face today, ranging from social and economic inequity to social justice. For example, after being tortured, flogged and beaten—as we saw in the movie The Passion of The Christ—He spoke the most profound words ever uttered about forgiveness, which were: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” In those words he set off a wave of forgiveness that even today is transforming lives-something revenge or hate can never accomplish! Imagine how a culture of such unconditional forgiveness would transform our world today.
Orethapedia: Do you claim in your book that Jesus spoke directly about ‘social justice’ as He died on the cross?
Stu Epperson Jr.: Remarkably, Jesus’ 3rd statement from the cross answers this question. It’s found in those famous words of comfort He gave His mother Mary. Most of us, especially when we were young, called out to our moms for help and comfort in time of trauma. From babies with boo-boos to dying soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, a mother has a unique place in the heart of mortal men and boys. Now here’s the astoundingly amazing difference exemplified by Jesus with his dying words. Rather than call for aid and comfort from Mary in His absolute worst moment, He GIVES her amazing grace and comfort by imploring his disciple John to ‘adopt’ His mother. I Call this social justice from the cross.
There was no deathbed appeal to big government or some other bureaucratic entity–not even to a charitable 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization accepting tax-deductible contributions! He sought help through the private sector for a willing vessel to step forward to provide long-term care.
Orethapedia: What’s a good way to take Jesus’ last words and apply them this Holy week?
Stu Epperson Jr.: Numerically, there are seven days of holy week starting with Palm Sunday, and seven words of Christ on the cross that I call in my book ‘seven words of life from the tree of death,’ I call upon everyone to meditate upon them and apply them to their lives.
Orethapedia; So many people are struggling this holiday week, having lost loved ones, perhaps from the current this opioid crisis, or from someone committing suicide which is on the rise, or having relationship struggles, how can we impart encouragement to a lost and dying world through words of a risen Savior?
Stu Epperson Jr.: There’s this really cool guy named Gideon who leaves an amazing book in hotel rooms. In that bible, the words of Christ apply as much today as they did 2000 years ago when he spoke them from the cross. Follow his example and spread The Word!
Orethapedia: Where can we get a copy of your book, “The Last Words of Jesus”?
Stu Epperson Jr.: At Amazon.com or in bookstores, or at LastWordsOfJesus.com
Folks, Stu Epperson Jr is the author of the two-book series, “The First Words of Jesus” and “The Last Words of Jesus.” Married to Julie, father of four wonderful daughters, Hope, Gracie, Joy, and Faith. Stu lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he loves hanging out with his family, and coaching/playing basketball. Stu may be found on Facebook, Twitter and In’stu’gram @stuepperson
Have a blessed Holy Week!