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The Cross

Matthew 27:45-46 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

His death occurred around 3pm, the time when the Passover lambs began to be slain in the temple courts. Thus the prophecy of old was fulfilled, when Christ our Passover lamb was sacrificed for us. After three hours of darkness, a darkness like the one that fell upon His spirit in Gethsemane, Jesus utters a cry from Psalm 22:1, expressing the agony of His soul. Though He had known great pain and suffering (both physical and emotional) in His life, He had never known separation from His Father. The constant stream of communion and loving fellowship that He had known all His life, in this moment, was cut from Him. As horrible as the physical suffering was, it was this searing pain of alienation that Jesus may have dreaded most in that garden last night. This may have been the cup He was pleading with His Father to pass from Him. And this cup required Jesus not only to endure the withdrawal of the Father’s fellowship, but also the outpouring of the Father’s wrath upon Him as a substitute for our sins. As Paul wrote, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteous of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

And we can imagine God’s answer. We can imagine that Jesus also knew the answer. Why? Because of His great love for us, that we would have life abundant. And true freedom is one that compels us to choose to live that abundant life instead of squandering His great sacrifice.

Question | There’s a saying that goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” What response is evoked in you today as you reflect on possibly the most familiar event in Scripture – Jesus’ death on the cross?

Practice | Reflect on the meaning of the cross and its practical implications for your life as you read Isaiah 53:3-5: He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His wounds we are healed.

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