Matthew 27: 38-46 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Over the years I’ve read these verses several times. But now, reading only these eight in isolation, seems to amplify the sadness I feel. I feel so frustrated with the people who “passed by, deriding him.” Their ignorance so obvious, and so willful. They acknowledge the miracles they've seen, yet they demand more. They demand that he save himself.
As I picture Jesus hanging on the cross, I wonder what thoughts are going through his mind. Does he feel the rejection of the crowd? Is he relieved that his mission is almost over? Is he afraid?
I’d like to think that in spite of the pain, that he was fully aware. I’d like to think that he felt some pride…that he’d made his father proud, and that his job was complete. That even now, in the face of more rejection, that he stood fast. I want that for him.
So here we are…2000 years later, still reading this story. Still gathering on Good Friday to remember his sacrifice. I want desperately to look up into his eyes and tell him that I understand. That I know who he is, and I know what he did. I want somehow to find the words to thank him appropriately….to find a way to make it clear that it was worth it for him to do what he did.
And then I realize how impossible that is. There are no words…
But if what he says is true, then he knows my heart…he knows my thoughts. And he knows the depth of my gratitude even if it’s beyond my ability to express in words.
What do you think of when you read these verses?