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Readings

Reading: Matthew 27:45-56

Supplementary Reading: Revelation 5

Devotional

The question which torments many, if not all of us, is ‘Why?’ Why does God allow suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people? Although countless great minds have attempted to answer the question, it still feels like they come up short. Possibly we will only truly know as we join Father God in heaven. What we do know is, that the ‘why?’ question was asked by Jesus in some of the last words he spoke on earth. Uttering breathlessly and in agony from his torture on the cross he cried; ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

It is likely we will never fully comprehend or understand the magnitude of the events taking place on Calvary that afternoon but, the New Testament writers endeavour to point us in the right direction. At noon, when the sun was at its highest and brightest, a deep darkness settled across the land. Did the darkness have any meaning? I would venture yes, it had a significant meaning. Time and time again darkness in scripture is associated with judgement and light is associated with blessing. Take these two examples from the prophet Isaiah.

If one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds. Isaiah 5:30

Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.Isaiah 60:20

In the darkness between noon and three, when all scripture is silent, our saviour is giving His life as a ‘ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28). Through these hours of deep darkness, Jesus is enduring inexpressible torment.

Paul told the Corinthian believers that Jesus was being ‘made sin’. ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ – 2 Corinthians 5:21. He told the Galatian Christians Jesus became ‘a curse’. ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.’ – Galatians 3:13. Isaiah in his intensely beautiful Messianic prophecies shares with us Jesus would be ‘smitten by God’, ‘wounded for our transgressions’ and have the iniquity of us all ‘laid on him.’ (Isaiah 53). Isaiah and Paul agree ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8) Or a better translation would be ‘Christ died on our behalf’. He was, as John the Baptist declared; ‘the Lamb of God’ our sacrificial substitute absorbing God’s wrath for our sin.

The apex of Jesus’ suffering comes three hours into the darkness when the Father, with whom he has enjoyed perfect intimacy stretching back into all eternity, in some sense which we may never truly understand, turns his face away from the sin infused sacrifice. God the Father never rejected the Son, never stopped loving the Son and in that moment, he loved Him as much as ever.

We may often struggle with the question why? But we are given the answer to Jesus’ ‘why’ question clearly, as he gives us a glance into the throne room of heaven on the arrival of ‘The Lamb’.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ – Revelation 5:9

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I cannot even comprehend the agony you went through on Golgotha’s hill as your body endured hideous torture and an agonising death. For that alone, I am forever grateful. But, to contemplate you receiving my punishment for sin and experiencing abandonment by your Father to win my relationship with Him, is almost too much to absorb. I am left in awe and amazement knowing thank you, said a million times, does not even start to express my heart. Thank you again. Amen.

Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?

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