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Lent - Day 33

Day 33  Thursday


That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


Matthew 27: 45-50
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 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?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 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. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
Luke 23: 44-46
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
John 19: 28-30
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


The protagonist of Passion Week reaches the worst point. The hero in a life and death struggle is fastened inextricably to death. This play appears to be a tragedy.
Today’s four sayings from Jesus on the cross express his excruciating suffering and his final hope.
I thirst. Of all the bodily alarms going off in his dying, thirst rose to insist most. In the parable Jesus told of the rich man in Hades, he yearned for but a drop of water to assuage his agony (Luke 16: 24). Now he had entered the full horror of Psalm 22, “my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”
My God, why have you forsaken me? The physical dissolution was not the worst. Crucified Jesus was bearing the sin of the world. He felt no trace of his Father. He quoted from Psalm 22: 1 in what has come to be known as the cry of dereliction. Abandonment. Ruin. Utter loneliness. 
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Yet, even feeling no trace of his Father, Jesus willed to trust him. He again quoted a Scripture, this time Psalm 31: 5. The second half of that verse adds, “You have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” Jesus showed faith in a faithful Father even when he felt abandoned. 
It is finished. In Greek it’s one word: tetelestai. It has been brought to full completion. John notes this as the fulfillment of Psalm 69: 21, “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Scholars such as Brant Pitre have noted that this would have completed the fourth cup of Passover which Jesus earlier declined. It would have been the sign of the new Kingdom dawning. In his death was our beginning. In his completion of suffering was our full atonement. 


Lord Jesus, on the cross you prayed the script written for you a thousand years earlier. You evoked Psalm 22 to find words for your horror and hope in your hopelessness. So we pray them with you to fill in your story,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, 
From the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day but you do not answer,
And by night but I find no rest. . . .
All who see me mock me;
They make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
He trusts in the LORD, let him deliver him;
Let him rescue him, for he delights in him!
Yet you are he who took me from my mother’s womb . . . 
Be not far from me, for trouble is near,
And there is none to help.
I am poured out like water.
And all my bones are out of joint,
My heart is melted like wax . . . 
They have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
They stare and gloat over me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
Come quickly . . . Deliver my soul . . . Save me!
You have rescued me!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
In the midst of the congregation, I will praise you.
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).



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