Friday after Laetare
Scripture: St. Matthew 27:39-66 (NKJV)
27:39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!”
48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. 49 The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
55 And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away , and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Both Sts. Matthew and Mark record that there was darkness over all the land from the sixth hour (Noon) until the ninth hour (3 PM). St. Luke goes on to say, “while the sun’s light failed,” (23:45) but that doesn’t help us to physically understand what happened. With an eclipse impossible during a full moon, there is simply no natural explanation for this worldwide phenomenon. The Scriptural meaning is given by Jesus’ own words. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,…’My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” The darkness is a visible sign of the judgment of the Father who rejected His Son. Jesus’ words are fulfillment of Psalm 22.
Although Jesus was without sin and declared by the Father to be His Beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased. This innocent Jesus chose to drink the cup of wrath and punishment which we deserved. He took the righteous judgment of the Father upon Himself. 1 Peter 2:24 says that “Jesus Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.” And Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'”
We normally hear of the judgment which will come at the end of the world in terms of darkness and the sun ceasing to shine. When we see this miraculous sight before the end of the world, we ponder Jesus’ question! What is the reason that You forsook Your Son? In faith, we cry out with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come: (Rev. 14:7). I am saved!
O Lord, forgive me my sins. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.