The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is when we take time each month to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf and remember his great love for and forgiveness to us. We are currently in the midst of a series of monthly posts during which we are exploring the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice by considering his seven last words on the cross. The following reflection was shared at our Good Friday Service on March 25, 2016, by one of our church members, Mark Horvath.
“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?‘).” —Mark 15:33-34
Jesus’ execution was a drawn out process, marked by him being stripped of many things until he was left utterly alone.
- He was stripped of the loyalty and support of his friends;
- He was stripped of his freedom at his arrest;
- He was stripped of his dignity and honor at his beating and mocking;
- And in the end, he was stripped of life itself.
But there was one thing that lay safely hidden deep in the heart of Jesus: his relationship with his Father. Father and Son have always existed in an unbroken, intimate relationship of divine love and intimacy stretching back into eternity past.
Earlier in the week, anticipating what was about to take place, Jesus told his disciples:
“But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. But I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
But after a sham trial, Roman flogging, and barbarity of a public crucifixion, there was still one last thing that had to be stripped from Jesus: the comforting presence of his Father. The pent up righteous wrath of his holy Father against all the sins of mankind had to expel his sin-bearing Son from his presence. And so his Father casts him out into the terrifying darkness to receive his full wrath. Near death and barely able to breathe, Jesus painfully gasps air into his lungs one more time and cries out in unimaginable despair:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
To forsake is to renounce something cherished and withdraw from it. Utterly alone, the forsaken Jesus endures solely out of his determined love and will to obey the Father no matter the cost. He is under the full weight of his Father’s wrath and experiencing all the horrors of hell by himself so we will not. Never again will there ever be a greater expression of love than what we see in Jesus at this moment.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.