And about the 9th hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46, NKJV)
Many folk may fondly remember the annual Lenten Luncheons series hosted at Romney First UMC by several congregations taking turns preparing tasty lunches. We had to discontinue those luncheons last year due to the sudden onset of Covid-19. Members of the Romney Christian Ministerial Association decided to publish our lunchtime devotional messages in lieu of meeting face-to-face this year. We are focusing on the 7 last words of Jesus.
These words of Jesus, exclaimed from the cross, probably stand as some of the starkest, darkest words. Jesus’ other last words speak of hope, forgiveness, compassion for his mother and finally a word of victory and trust in the ultimate will of God.
By the time Jesus spoke these words, he had been suspended on the cross for a few hours. The text tells us that a deep darkness was setting in, as if the universe could no longer witness this particular horrible death. Perhaps the weight and enormity of the sin of humanity had settled upon Jesus. It’s possible that Jesus may have harbored doubts about the success of his time upon earth among humanity. Maybe it crossed his mind that he was separated from God the Father. Maybe Jesus could hear the shouts of derision from the crowd. Maybe it was all of the above. Shortly after this, Jesus breathed his last...at least for this portion of his soon-to-be victorious work.
As I read and reflect upon these words of Jesus, I am reminded that Jesus did rise victorious. Yes, this is Friday, it’s only Friday...but Sunday’s coming! I am reminded that Jesus had seen it all; he was very familiar with human suffering; he had witnessed it and healed people from it. Jesus liberated people from the burden of their sins and wrongdoing. Jesus won victory over it! When I am going through a tough time, a time that seems dark, Jesus will be there with me, with us. Jesus won’t leave us forsaken if we don’t want to be left alone. We can hold on to this promise of Jesus: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, NKJV). Jesus will be with you if you ask him to be with you!