44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” 48 All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. 49 And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things.
As I write this, the weather belies the circumstances of Jesus’ last earthly day. Today it is beautifully warm and sunny, but at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, several accounts tell us that darkness fell upon the whole earth and “the sun stopped shining.” In another dramatic sign from God, the temple curtain was torn in two.
When I look around outside on a day like today, it is especially hard to imagine the terrible, awful nature of Jesus’ death. In my head, even knowing and having studied the gospels, I cannot make much sense of the scene.
Incredible that our Lord, who hurt no one and healed the sick, would be so misunderstood as to be put to death! Unbelievable, that Jesus’ followers could be standing around — in fear and disbelief — as their Messiah breathed his last words.
Yet, I can see myself standing in shock frozen with them. I can feel the dichotomy of human nature as people who experienced the presence and peace of Jesus stood in disbelief in the face of the evil that befell him. Perhaps we just can’t truly understand or make sense of the human death, and life, of Jesus. On so many levels, it feels impossible!
My only solace is in knowing that, as Pastor Rachel reminded us, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” Jesus knew the divine covenant that he was making with humanity could save us all. As people stood in disbelief or reacted in anger, Jesus knew to ask God for our forgiveness because people “did not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34). Likewise, in his final prayer (v.46), Jesus relied on the strength of that divine connection. Jesus knew that despite the sin of the world, he would rise again.
Today is Friday, but Sunday is coming!
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
How hard is it for you to imagine the events of the day? Good Friday, of course, feels anything but “good.” However, when we remember that our Lord and Savior, Jesus, knew the covenant he was making on our behalf, perhaps it is bearable.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Sometimes the events of your life and death feel like they are too much to bear. Sometimes we stand in shock to the events of the evil of the day. Thank you for your sacrifice on our behalf. Thank you for inspiring us to turn to God even in our darkest hours. Thank you for the joy of the Resurrection that is to come. Amen.
Our Lenten Series
For our Lent series this year, we’ll be using the Adam Hamilton book Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws. At his website, you can find a 40-day reading plan to help you read through the Gospel of Luke during Lent. And join us for worship, in-person or online, at 9:00 & 10:30 every Sunday.