Matthew 27:45-56 (NIV)
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
When Jesus cried out, asking why God had abandoned him, Matthew doesn’t mean, ‘Oh, that was all right; you see, it only felt like that’. Part of the whole point of the cross is that there the weight of the world’s evil converged on Christ, blotting out God’s love as surely as the light of day was blotted out for three hours. Jesus is ‘giving his life as a ransom for many’, and the sin of the ‘many’, which He is bearing, has for the first and only time in His life caused a break to come between Him and the Father.
He was obedient to the end, even through this separation to His God-given mission. He takes with him, into the darkness of death, the sin of the world: my sin, your sin, the sin of countless billions, the weight that has hung around the world’s neck and dragged it down to destruction.
And what comes next, with all this death, destruction and sin. A centurion, standing guard at the foot of the cross, gives voice to the confession of faith that billions would make, ‘He really was God’s son!’ Matthew calls us, expects us to join with the Centurion as we look at the death of Jesus. Jesus’ death has changed the shape of the world.
The effect of Jesus giving His life; the example of love, of confronting evil with goodness; His taking of the world’s hatred and anger to Himself; the defeat of the powers of evil, the blotting out of the sins of the world, all of this is to be seen around the world. It is seen, not only in the millions who worship Jesus and thank him for his death, but in the work of healing which flows from it: in reconciliation and hope, for communities and for individuals. The world is indeed a different place because of what Jesus did in His death.
What do you make of Jesus’ death? Has it brought you life as He intended it would!
Father, may every person who thinks on the death of Jesus receive the life of Jesus in exchange – that they may live with Him in eternity!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta