Friday, April 14, 2006
Life from Death  

Today, on Good Friday, we mourn the death of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave up everything, including His life, for the sake of all humanity. It is for this very reason that He took on flesh: He came to earth in order to die. And we focus on His death--His holy sacrifice--especially on this Friday of all the Fridays in the year.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?",
that is:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. Matthew 27:45-46,50
On one level, it is extremely difficult to grasp that Jesus died. After all, He is God Incarnate, yet, He submitted Himself into the hands of sinners who decided that the best thing do was to have Him crucified. The key to understanding His death seems to be grasping what the outcome of His death is.

Just before He gives up His spirit, quotes the opening line of Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" For a long time, I understood those words to simply be ones of despair. Indeed, the words from the Psalm begin a long description of the plight of psalmist which prefigure what Christ experienced on the cross.
But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
"He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" 6-8

Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet --
I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots. 12-18
However, as I had pointed out to me, the psalm does not end in despair. Instead, throughout the psalm, the psalmist asks for God's help, and at the end he recognizes that God will answer his prayers and save him.
You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
From thee comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
he afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live for ever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it. 23-31
By quoting the opening line of the Psalm, Jesus was using a shorthand notation for quoting the entire Psalm. In referencing the entire Psalm 22, He is showing His fulfillment of all Scripture. In this case, it is not just the horrific things described in the psalm, but also the victory that God gives to the one who cries out to Him. Jesus is indicating that the purpose of His death is for God's glory. God's glory is manifested in His merciful salvation. Jesus will not simply die. He will die to be raised to new life. From His complete giving of Himself on the cross, He rises again to give new life to all who will receive Him.

On this day, I am especially reminded of this reality because today is the fifth anniversary of when my wife and I entered into the Catholic Church. At the Easter Vigil, five years ago, we received the sacrament of confirmation. On that same night, we also first received the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. From Christ's holy sacrifice on Good Friday, we received new life in Him by receiving Him. In that first Eucharist, we, for the first time received new life from Him because He had received new life in His resurrection. He did not despair, but entrusted Himself completely to His Father, and through His death and resurrection, He invites us to also place our trust completely in the One who is able to save us from death.

Posted by David at 8:23 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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