We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week. Now the cross is in full view and we see Jesus in preparation for his death and the final desertions and betrayals, and unjust conviction of Jesus.
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,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b] 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[c] 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!” Matthew 27:45-54.
1. Beaten, Mocked, Taunted in Final Hours. There remains no doubt as to who are the enemies of Jesus, and thus, of God, in his trial and now in his crucifixion. The Jews mocked him, and challenged him to save himself.
2. Redemption for Repentance, even from the Cross. Jesus had two criminals crucified with him. To the one, he joined the mocking. But to the other, he recognized who Jesus was, requested forgiveness and redemption, and Jesus responded with one of the sweetest and most affirming statements of redemption to him.
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[a]” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43.
3. Almost Incomprehensible Separation and Grief from God the Father and God the Son. I can’t pretend to fully understand these words.
“Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
What we can understand is that the very Godhead themselves rallied to the redemption of those made in His image, who were dead in their trespasses and sins, but were made alive by the taking of our sin on Jesus, at the cross. No wonder John would later quote Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6.
John Newton said it well: ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I can see.’ Blessings on you this week.