Matthewby Mike Raiter
For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame″ (Hebrews 12:2). While a terribly painful form of execution, crucifixion was designed to maximise shame. Crucified in public places (like the top of a hill), the dying criminal was the object of ridicule. Yet, through their taunts, Jesus' enemies ironically proclaim the truth.
First, the soldiers mock Jesus. They dress Him in make-believe royal robes, place a crown of thorns on His head, and thrust a pretend-sceptre into His hand. In cruel mockery they hail Him as king. The great irony is that they are speaking more truly than they could have imagined. He is a king-the King-and He is going to receive His kingdom (vv. 27-31).
As Matthew describes the events of Jesus' crucifixion, so much of what happens fulfils Psalms 22 and 69: the dividing of His clothes (v. 35; Psalm 22:18), the insults hurled at Him (vv. 37-44; Psalms 22:7, 69:9-12), the cry of desolation (v. 46; Psalm 22:1), and giving Him vinegar to drink (v. 48; Psalm 69:21). The Jewish leaders taunt Jesus, saying, ″He saved others . . . but he can't save himself!″ (v. 42), however the irony is that in choosing not to save himself, He is saving all of mankind.
Throughout this entire ordeal, Jesus has remained silent to the taunting. Now He speaks, and in Matthew's gospel, the crucified Jesus speaks just one time. Quoting Psalm 22:1, He expresses, in a voice of deep emotion, His sense of divine abandonment. Of course, the God Jesus called out to was ″My God″, but as He bore God's wrath, the agony of separation from the Father was indescribable.
As if to reflect this, God sends a veil of darkness over all the land. In the words of Frederick Bruner, ″In the darkness the natural world puts on, as it were, widow's weeds, dresses in dark clothing, and goes into mourning, for here the human world has committed its most heinous crime.″
Jesus bore the shame of sin, judgment, and punishment so we could receive glory. He suffered thirst so we could drink from the well of salvation. He died in darkness so we could live in the light. He was abandoned by God so we could be reconciled to Him.
God forsaking God. No man can understand that!″ (Martin Luther). What can we understand about our salvation from the cry of the Lord Jesus (v. 46), and what remains unfathomable?
Make a list of all that has been achieved for us by Jesus' atoning death on the cross. Then spend a few moments praising and thanking Him.
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