For Pray the Word on this Friday of Holy Week we obviously remember when Jesus died on the cross. Matthew Chapter 27:45-50. From the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders hear. He said “This man is calling Elijah”. One of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. The others said “Wait. Let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”
Jesus stood at the cross separated from God, so that those who trust in Him never will be.
Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yield up his spirit. If you think about it, we live in a world that prizes material wealth, earthly power, outward beauty. It’s pretty incomprehensible to see how Friday of Holy Week could be called Good Friday. How is this good news? Think about it. Why would anybody want to follow a man who was rejected, spat on, beaten, flogged, mocked, crucified? This is not the kind of messiah we would come up with on our own. It’s fitting that darkness covered the land while Jesus was hanging on the cross. The one through whom the world was created was hanging in agony on a tree. This was God the son, and the fact that he was fully divine didn’t any way lessen his suffering. He was also human, like we know. He’s the word made flesh. His body was shot through with pain in this moment. Yet, that physical suffering, unimaginable as it is, as cruel as it possibly could have been in the first century, that physical suffering still wasn’t the worst of it.
In his body, Jesus was, First Peter 2 later says “Bearing the judgment of God,” which is why he cries out these words from these words from the Psalms, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That’s hard to get your mind around those words. Jesus forsaken by God. Not for his own sin, though. First Peter 2 says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” This picture is Jesus dying in our place. This is why he came to Jerusalem. We have been anticipating really all this Holy Week. Better yet, this is why he took on flesh in the first place, to endure temptation, rejection, and ultimately death so that you and I could be reconciled to God.
When I read this text, I … And, we think about Christ’s death, what he accomplished for us. I think we can’t escape the magnitude of sin before a Holy God in this picture that Jesus is experiencing the judgment, the separation in a sense that we deserve for our sin. Sin is serious, it’s infinitely serious. I think we are prone to treat sin casually, lightly, as if our rebellion against God is a light thing. We almost a picture, well, this wasn’t that bad a sin, or this and that. One sin brings separation from God, which is depicted here in Matthew 27. That’s one sin to think you and I have committed thousands and thousands of sins. Our sin is serious and that makes his love all the more precious and glorious, because his love covers over all our sins.
Let’s pray and think about my life, think about your life. God, forgive us for how prone we are to treat sin casually, like it’s no big deal. Like we can sin and just think nothing about it sometimes. Or, we can be tempted in a certain way and we just choose “Yes, I’m totally going to indulge in that temptation”, and we just willfully go into sin against you not realizing how serious that. God forgive us, we pray, for how casually we can treat sin. But, even as we pray that, as we see that in our own hearts, our own lives, we praise you for how precious, how glorious your love is. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving us anyway. God, thank you for sending Jesus, as remember especially on this Good Friday. Yes, it is good news to know that Jesus has born our sins in his body on the tree, that he has paid the price, and he’s experienced the separation we deserve. He’s experienced the judgment we warrant for our sins. Jesus, thank you for doing that for us.
We, we put our trust in your. We thank you for your love for us. And, we pray, God, based on your love for us, help us to turn from sin. Help us to hate sin. Help us not to treat it lightly or casually in any way in our lives. Help us to live like we’ve been forgiven of sin, like we’ve been free from sin. Help us to live in relationship with you, and love for you in light of your infinitely great love for us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.