Text: Matthew 27:32-56
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?
This is Good Friday in an Aramaic nutshell.
We can only imagine what it was like to be beaten and bludgeoned and bloodied and then to be nailed to a cross. No, rather, we can’t imagine. People aren’t executed like this any more. Even the most vile criminals today are executed in humane ways. The pain must have been unbearable–battling blood loss, battling asphyxiation, battling traumatic shock. Any human being would cry out in great agony and pain.
And yet, even if we could somehow remotely relate to Jesus’ gruesome physical pain, we will never ever truly know the horror and anguish of the words Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani? In English: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
What is it like to have God turn his back on you and forsake you? What is it like to have God no longer be with you or bless you? What is it like for God to stop showering you with grace and love?
What is it like?
It’s like hell.
Actually, it is hell.
Jesus was experiencing the full-blown consequences for sin. Hell is the price to pay for disobeying God. Hell is the price to pay for falling short of his glory. Hell is the price to pay for serving yourself rather than God, even just once.
Thanks to Jesus, we won’t ever know what that was like. As true man and true God suffered hell on the cross, he was suffering once and for all.
That includes you. That includes me.
As you meditate quietly on the passion of our Savior on this Good Friday, give thanks to the God of all grace and mercy that Jesus did this for you and for your salvation.
Prayer: Jesus, I will ponder now on you holy passion; With your Spirit me endow for such meditation. Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish Of your suffering, pain, and death That I may not perish.
Text: Matthew 21:23-25:46
Tuesday of Holy Week is often called “Busy Tuesday.” There is not much recorded about Monday and Wednesday but Matthew devotes over four chapters to the sermons of Jesus given on Tuesday. The selfless sacrifice of Jesus is an amazing thing. Most humans who are told that they will soon die make every effort to cross some things off their bucket-lists. Jesus was thinking about everyone but himself. In these four chapters of Matthew we see Jesus desperately trying to make people see the light.
Jesus taught several parables that Tuesday morning and all of them focused on repentance. The parables are aimed at those who have not yet turned to Jesus in faith. They are parables of warning: either you are a friend of Jesus or you are his enemy and you don’t want to be the enemy of God.
Next on Jesus plate was a debate. He was challenged by the Pharisees and Sadducees (the spiritual leaders of the Jews) on four different points. These men were trying to trap Jesus, to get him to say something that would reveal him as the hoax they were convinced he was. Read the accounts for yourself… Jesus as true God was a little smarter than mere men.
The “Seven Woes” as they are entitled in the NIV from Matthew 23 are somber words for the Pharisees. It is scary to read through this chapter and see how often we Christians fall into the same sins as the Pharisees. What is the key difference? We repent and look to Jesus to take our sins away, the Pharisees did not.
Jesus’ evening was spent on a two chapter long discourse on the end of this earth. We don’t know when Jesus is going to come again and so we need to be prepared at all times. We do know that when he comes we will be taken away to eternal life, and all because of the work Jesus was accomplishing on Holy Week.
What selfless, wondrous love is this, that Jesus would spend his last hours offering his loving forgiveness to those were in the process of orchestrating his murder!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as Jesus lived in this world in utter humility may we also live humbly. Because of Jesus we have the forgiveness we desperately need to face Judgment Day with confidence. Give us the strength to live our lives as if our next breath could be our last because no one knows when Jesus will come again. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Text: Hebrews 5:7-9
This isn’t your normal Jesus.
Most modern pictures of Jesus show the compassionate and gentle Jesus, the loving Good Shepherd who tenderly takes care of the flock and lets the little children come to him. Less frequent, but still popular, are pictures of Jesus as King, sitting on his throne with all authority over heaven and earth.
How often have you seen pictures of Jesus weak and frail, overwhelmed to the point of death, sweating drops of blood, bursting out in loud cries and with many tears? I don’t think I ever have.
But Hebrews reminds us of something very important. Jesus was also true man. Knowing as true God what was going to happen to him and the pain that would be involved, it caused him great amounts of pain. He even prayed that if it was the will of his Father, perhaps he would take this cup (what he was about to do) away from him.
Yet the reading for today also reminds us that Jesus is true God. Though overwhelmed with troubles and sorrows, Jesus perfectly obeyed his Father’s will and accomplished the mission he came for. He became the source of eternal salvation!
This Lent we continue to ponder the passion of the Christ–his intense suffering and sorrow on our behalf and for our sins. As we see him suffer, we give great thanks that true man and true God came for us and won for us life forever with him.
Prayer: Jesus, I will ponder now on your holy passion; With your Spirit me endow for such meditation. Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish Of your suffering, pain, and death that I may not perish. Amen.