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A Misunderstood Question

After Steve Jobs died, his family reported that his last words were “Oh, wow!” Blues singer Bessie Smith’s last words were “I’m going but I’m going in the name of the Lord.” Singer Frank Sinatra’s final words were less hopeful. It is reported that he died after saying, “I’m losing it.”

In His last moments on the cross, Jesus cried out to the Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 46). Some find this cry disturbing. Did it mean Jesus lost hope when the Father did not deliver Him from the suffering of the cross? No. This was not a cry of despair but a quotation from the Psalms. By praying the words of Psalm 22:1, Jesus also claimed for Himself the promise of Psalm 22:24: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” The Savior’s last words were words of hope.

Some who heard Jesus thought He was calling on the prophet Elijah for help (v. 48). When Jesus was offered a sponge soaked with sour wine, they said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him” (v. 49). This was probably another taunt rather than an expression of genuine hope. It may reflect a common expectation that Elijah would announce the Messiah’s arrival (Matt. 17:10). The words “gave up” speak of control. Jesus delivered up His spirit to the Father (v. 50).

Matthew records two remarkable consequences of Christ’s death. The first is the rending of the temple curtain that signified the separation between God and humanity. The thickly woven curtain tore from top to bottom. The second was a resurrection of “many holy people” after Christ rose from the dead. They “appeared to many people” (v. 53).

>> When we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Today, take a moment to reflect on the significance of the Crucifixion. What does it mean to you? How does it feel to know that the Son of God was willing to suffer on your behalf?

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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