I see men die every week. This is my charge, to ensure that the executions are carried out correctly. If they don’t go to plan, it falls on me.
I have never seen a man die in the way that this Jesus did. The mocking religious leaders said something about him having said that he is the ‘son of god’. What I saw today made me think that this is true.
Usually, those on crosses have a lot to say to passers by. They can be up there for days and if they’ve been executed for some kind of revolutionary activity, they use their final hours to tell everyone what they are dying for. Not so with this man. He said nothing. Not until the end. He screamed some words in a foreign tongue I don’t know. To me it sounded like he shouted ‘why?’ Something I have often shouted to whatever god is when I’ve been in the barracks at night on my own.
Then, as soon as he died, the earth shook. I’m not joking. It moved and I fell to the ground. Something happened today that will stay with me for ever. I don’t know what happened but that man really is who he said he was.
Prayer for Friday:
Holy God, by your cross you have redeemed the world.
Your body broken, your blood outpoured, cleanses me and restores me.
For your cross we praise you and stand in awe of what you have done.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
(Matthew 27:33-56, New International Version, ©2011)