Death with Dignity
Loving Lord, You were obedient unto death, even death on a cross. I am humbled before Your costly sacrifice.
Consider: "Once again I look upon the cross where You died. I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside. Once again I thank You, once again I pour out my life" (Matt Redman).
Physical suffering and mockery do not take us to the depths of the cross. The cry of dereliction, coming at the end of three hours of unnatural darkness, takes us there. Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1 and for the first time does not call God "Father." This was what he had most dreaded in Gethsemane: to be abandoned by the Father. He is drinking the cup to the last drop. The deepest work of atonement is achieved here. We may call God "Father" because of his loss of the Father on the cross.
All through Matthew's account of the Passion, Jesus has demonstrated a remarkable dignity. It is as though he has been in control of these events, or rather that he was trusting absolutely that the Father was in control. This even continues through his time on the cross. Rather than weakening and fading into unconsciousness, like most victims of crucifixion, he retains enough strength to be able to give up his spirit. The work of atonement complete, he hands his life back to the Father (Luke 23:46). The coronation is complete. This is a death with dignity in the most shameful of circumstances.
The consequences are immediate and dramatic. The ransom has been paid (Matt. 20:28). Graves are opened in anticipation of the resurrection. The temple curtain is split in two because the source of forgiveness will no longer be found in the temple. It has shifted to the one who paid the price for sin. The promised new covenant, for the forgiveness of sins, is in place. Even the execution party, who have taken part in the mock coronation, are forced to reconsider. The true identity of the Son of God is revealed in the manner and the purpose of his death.
The consequences of sin are borne in the heart of the triune God. Ponder this profound truth before the Lord.
I thank You, heavenly Father, that the Lord Jesus, the One without sin, accepted sin's sting and bore it for me. I am forever grateful.