This Day in History: 0000-04-20

April 20 – Matthew 27: 45-54

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me?”…
Then Jesus shouted out again, [“It is finished” Luke 19:30] and He released His spirit.  At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened.  The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead… 
The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened.  They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Some of the last words of Jesus before he died, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me?”  How it breaks my heart to think of my Lord, the One that I love, in such a state of utter loneliness and despair!

How many times throughout His life had He told His followers, “I and My Father are One.”  Yet in those moments, those dark and terrible moments, He found Himself condemned by the sins He carried. For me. For you.  He found Himself separated from His beloved Father because of those sins.

The earth went dark with the sorrow of those hours as Jesus hung on that cross, deserted and alone. How my heart aches for Him! And yet, how my heart is comforted too. To know that my Savior understands the pain of rejection.  The misery of loneliness.  The agony of despair.

And then, how my broken heart swells as I think of the great love He must have had for me. For you!  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.  His incomprehensible love for us was so strong, so complete that it stood in our place. Took what we deserved and set us free!

As He breathed His last breath and surrendered to death the curtain in the temple was torn in two.  The shield that barred the way for man to meet with God was destroyed.  The veil that stood between the inner sanctuary, the mercy seat of God, and His chosen people was lifted.  The curtain that reminded us that because of our sin we were separated from God, was rent in two! In that victorious moment, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, made a way!  He took our sins and made us clean so that we could come boldly before the throne of our gracious God and receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we need it most!

The magnitude of that moment was so great, so eternally significant that the ground shook and rocks split apart and many godly people who had been dead CAME BACK TO LIFE!!!  It almost seems like a scene out of a big-budget Hollywood movie, but this was real.

Let’s thank God today for the unimaginable sacrifice He made for us! As we embrace our position as His dearly loved sons and daughters, let’s thank our Lord and Savior that He was willing to suffer such agony because He loved us so much! As we witness the surreal drama surrounding the crucifixion through the gift of the preserved Word of God let us respond, not as the Israelites and the religious leaders who hardened their hearts and rejected the Messiah; but as the godless, gentile Roman soldiers who were there on that day.  May we never  get caught up in our own righteousness, but instead find ourselves completely humbled in the shadow of the cross!  Let’s look to Jesus as He breathes His last breath, and as the world reverberates under the impact of that moment, let’s catch our breath along with those soldiers and proclaim in reverent awe, “This man was truly the Son of God!”

My friends, it is finished!