Monday April 27, 2020
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Jesus is the only one who knows what it is like to be the only one. Many of you have felt times of isolation and abandonment. Feeling forsaken and betrayed. Jesus is our hope and strength as he feels something far worse than anything we will ever know. Praise God we will never experience what Jesus experiences, in feeling forsaken by the Father. He whose nature and identity is perfectly united with the Father by the Holy Spirit. He feels, if only for a moment, a moment that must have felt like worlds of time passing, he experiences separation from God. He experiences spiritual desolation. Jesus cries out the first verse of Psalm 22. He doesn’t think this would be a convenient time to quote scripture for everybody. The Holy Scriptures were part of him. They were as much a part of him as his own body. They were part of him because they came from him. The words of Psalm 22 didn’t originate with King David, they originated with the Word, the Son of God.
Jesus cries out because he feels a kind of abandonment and forsakenness that make our collective human sufferings seem small and insignificant in comparison. We can be sure there is nothing so terrible in our human experience that Jesus hasn’t experienced too. He not only carries the weight of human sin, the weight of the world’s evil, he experiences being abandoned by God the Father. Psalm 22 acts as much as the final script of Jesus’ life as the Gospels. “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (Psalm 22:7). “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” (Psalm 22:16-18).
Through it all, Jesus is obedient unto death. He takes with him the sin of the world into darkness and death. He is subject to the work of the enemy. His spirit is not taken from him. He gives up his spirit. The great illusion in the story is that it appears his life is taken. By the Sanhedrin. By Pontius Pilate. By the sneering crowds yelling, “Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!.” No one is responsible for taking Jesus’ life…not even Judas. Jesus gives his life. Jesus gives up his spirit. No one has the power to take his life, not even the devil. Jesus could have stopped all of it at any time. But he knew what he must do. He chooses to die so we don’t have to. He gives his life to set us free. He gives his life to invite the world into his family. He gives his life and takes on our shame and guilt and unrighteousness. He takes all that we try and carry by ourselves. He takes all of the punishment that we deserve. He takes it all when he gives his life. And even though he experiences utter abandonment from God and from his closest followers, Jesus is living out Psalm 22 which also says, “For he (God) has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:24).
Prayer for Today
Morning Prayer from Saint Patrick
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
The First 15
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