Lent: The Final Week

Holy Week

This devotional is written by Jessie Zahr-Iddin. Jessie works as part of the AMAZING NHS as a mental health nurse.

Matthew 27:45-54

The Death of Jesus

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. 46 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?"

47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, "Wait! Let's see whether Elijah comes to save him."

50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 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, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus' resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

54 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!"

Reflection

There is obviously so much to reflect on from this passage, but I want to focus on the word "Eli" or "Eloi" ("My God") (v46).

We first read Jesus' cry in David's Psalm 22, which describes many of the events surrounding Jesus' execution, and while we don't know whether the cry itself was prophesied or Jesus was actually quoting scripture in his ultimate hour of need, I think either are just as incredible.

When Jesus cried loudly, he was screaming in desperation. As one would. He'd been subjected to unimaginable physical and emotional pain for hours and hours, and was staring death right in the face. But he didn't cry for the nails to be pulled from his hands and feet, or the crown of thorns to be taken off his head, or for his lacerated skin to be soothed, he shrieked an expression of intimacy, asking God, his God, why it was all happening.

In that moment, Jesus was isolated from a father with whom he had been perfectly connected for all eternity. He was torn from a love which he had always known. This grief for lost love far-surpasses any screaming grief which has been experienced before or since.

But he died in the darkness of God's total abandonment – a death none of us will have to die – so you could call God yours, and so I could call God mine.

A prayer:

Father, remind me of the significance of being able to call You mine, of the fact that Jesus lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died – a death completely without You – so that I could draw near to You as Your child. Help me to know how to respond to this love. Amen.

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