86 – Darkness and Death
Where: Golgotha, Jerusalem, Judea
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Around noon, as the three crucified men hung on their crosses, the sky became darkened as the clouds thickened and blocked the sun. This was the time when the powers of evil seemed to be in control. Minute by minute the three crucified men suffered. Slowly the minutes passed. Then an hour passed. And then another hour passed.
Around 3 pm, the ram’s horn was sounded and the lambs began to be slaughtered in the temple for the Judean Passover festival. Jesus, knowing that to his followers this would appear to be a time of hopelessness, pushed himself upward to get a bigger breath. Through a dry mouth, Jesus began to recite a psalm of confidence in God despite the seeming failure. “My God, My God [Eloi, Eloi], why have you forsaken me (…For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations)”, but could say no more. Too little energy. Too much pain.
Someone nearby put a sponge on the end of a shaft of wood and dipped it into a bucket of vinegar [sour wine], and was about to give Jesus a sip so that he could speak clearly. The guards wondered what Jesus was trying to say and asked about “Eli”. One had heard of a prophet Elijah, so they asked the Jews why Jesus was calling for Elijah. They were told that it was believed that Elijah would come to help the righteous when they suffered. The Romans wanted to wait to see if help would come, so they told the man with the vinegar to wait.
Mary Magdalene, and some other women, who had been standing not very far away, moved in closer, in order to hear what Jesus would say. The Romans did not interfere. Jesus knew that his body would not last much longer, and there were things that he needed to say, and he did not want to be misunderstood. He needed to speak clearly. So he forced out the words, “I thirst”.
The Romans laughed and gave permission to the man with the stick, to give Jesus some vinegar to wet his tongue. Jesus sipped enough to clear his mouth. He lifted his head, pushed himself upward, got a breath, and cried out in victory, ‘My mission is finished’. Then he bowed his head, and to God he said, ‘I trust fully in you and commit my spirit into your care’. Then he sagged down on the cross, closed his eyes, let out his last breath, and died. The glory of Jesus was his total faith in the faithfulness of God.
At that time the ground began to shake, and the centurion who was overseeing the execution, was impressed by the way Jesus died. ‘Surly this was a innocent and righteous man’.
At the same time, God announced his judgment on Israel. The religious leaders had rejected God’s call to be his light to the world. That part of the agreement was ended. So God ripped apart the great curtain in the Temple [model] and threw the worshipers in the temple into a panic. Now others would become his messengers. Through the faith of Jesus others would bring the “Gentiles” to faith.
When Judas, who had been watching from a distance, saw that Jesus was dead, he lost all hope. Judas went away, found a tree and hung himself.
No questions have been asked yet.