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Holy Week Devotional - Saturday, April 3rd - Nathan Bier





Matthew 27:45-61

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And 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. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.



We enter into the narrative of Jesus’ death off the heels of Jesus’ trial, sentencing, and actual

Crucifixion – remember, the crucifixion is the act of nailing someone to the cross. Here, we see

the events and words that took place while Jesus hung on the cross. In preparing this

devotional for us today, I found myself meditating on one phrase within these sixteen verses.

It’s a phrase said in verse 46, and found in Psalm 22:1 – “My God, my God, why have you

forsaken me?”


This phrase is loudly spoken on the tail end of a three-hour crucifixion. This is not a phrase that

he cries just as the cross is put up, but is a phrase he yells as he yields himself up. What is

important to note is that for these three hours we see Jesus on the Cross, with mockers and

followers around him, all sitting in a darkness. This darkness is not one that is caused by a dust

storm or a moon that has positioned itself in front of the Sun, this darkness is from the deep

displeasure that the Father feels in this moment. A Father looking on His one and only Son in

immense pain and hurt knowing that, in the words of Jon Favreau’s Mandalorian, “This is the

way”. This is the cup that Jesus has chosen to bear. This was his providential and perfect plan to

renew, redeem, and reunite the broken relationship between Him and His people. But this plan

was filled with an unimaginable pain that only One could bear. Jesus, in His perfection, holds

this cup that could not pass from His hands, and in doing so, feels the weight of this broken, sin-

filled world.


Which brings us to this phrase that is said on the ninth hour, and His third hour on the Cross,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We can often times search for the meaning

behind what Jesus says here, trying to understand the implications of this pertaining to the

Trinity or Jesus’ human body and spiritual godliness, but by doing so we miss the point of this

despairing appeal. We fail to see the basic, intense, and unimaginable pain that Jesus is

experiencing here on the Cross. We miss that the pain of the Father shown through a bruised

and darken sky is reflected in the now bruised and darkened body and Spirit of Jesus.


And as I was reading probably for the thousandth time in my life, I had a thought that I had

truly never had before. Well, more of a question than a thought, but it kept building in my

head, then to my heart, and finally to my soul. It’s a question that I hope and pray you meditate

on not only in this devotional or in this season, but in your walk as a believer: Can you imagine

the pain that Jesus is experiencing here? He is holding and feeling all of the pain for 3 hours on

that Cross. Not just the physical pain of having nails pierce your skin or of water and blood

starting to fill your lungs; but also, the emotional and spiritual pain of billions of people. The

pain of death, guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, anger, failure – the pain of Sin!

Can you imagine holding all of that in one moment in time?


Think about all the painful experiences that you have gone through in your time here on planet

Earth. The pain of failures that you have experienced in your family or your work. The pain of

death that fills us with sadness, anger, and depression. The pain of shame and guilt because of

actions we did that we had no power to stop. The pain of sin that ravages our hearts, fills our

head with lies, and separates us from eternal Peace, Joy, and Love.


Can you imagine feeling the pain that you have accumulated throughout the duration of your

life all at once? Every moment in your life that you felt pain physically, emotionally, and

spiritually experienced in a single moment. Oh, if it happened to me I think I would genuinely

combust from the weight of that pain, and yet, this is the pain that Jesus was feeling on that

cross. Except, it wasn’t just His pain, it was your pain and my pain. It was the pain from the Sin

that had reigned for thousands of years. And in those moments on that Cross, he was

experiencing the pain of every person, from every generation of the past, present, and future.

Can you imagine?


In the past, as I have reflected on this narrative around this time of year, I always focus on Jesus

finally being broken, on Jesus feeling alienated and alone, but this year as I was meditating on

this question and trying to imagine the pain that he was experiencing, I started to realize

something. If you look at the beginning of verse 46, Matthew describes how Jesus says that

more than memorable phrase - He “cries out with a loud voice”. In the midst of this pain and

suffering, He is still in control. In a normal crucifixion, men would go in and out of consciousness

and they would have zero to little control as they were dying. But as Jesus is dying, we don’t see

him cry out because he has lost control – we see him cry out because of the generational pain of sin that he is experiencing and holding at this moment. This is not an act of hopelessness, but one of purpose because he and His Father have had this moment mapped out from the very beginning.


I don’t know if you have ever had any of those moments in your faith journey where you sit

back in your seat, take a deep breath, and say “Wow!”, but this was one of those moments for

me. I realized that Jesus knew what was coming, Jesus knew what had to take place, and he

didn’t give up in this moment… he yielded. He knowingly and purposefully died, not because he

lost hope, but because He knew what was coming - because he was in complete control of the situation.


Friends, this is hopeful for us today. Not because we won't ever have to experience physical,

emotional, or spiritual pain ever again because of His death; but because of the future that has

been secured through His death. We can go through life knowing that there is purpose in our

pain because of God’s perfect plan just as Jesus did on the Cross 2,000 years ago. Jesus stayed

on that Cross because he knew the plan and what fulfilling that plan would lead to – He knew

how the story ended. Today, we know how the story ends, and by knowing the end, it provides

purpose and peace to our pain.


Questions


1. Talk with those around you are just imagine what it would be like to experience three hours

of darkness, randomly, in the middle of the day.


2. What experiences in your life have caused you cry out to God in a desperate plea for help?


3. Imagine and talk about what it would be like to experience every single moment of pain in

your life all at once.


4. Think to a specific pain-filled moment. How does knowing how the story ends provide

purpose to that pain?