It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.  [a]29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 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?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. – Mark 16:25-47
Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned. Too many times when the moment of truth has come, I have demurred from truth and taken the easy way out. Most times those are little things: A failure of nerve to speak when I should. A lack of patience with those closest to me. Putting off what I know needs to be done. Passing by someone with seemingly-minor needs.
Sometimes those moments of truth are weightier. You know them, O God. They are part of my shameful past. Buying into the false-values of my college friends. Going along with the godless antics of the world. Taking shortcuts around honesty. I shudder to think of them now. And though I have repented – oh how I have repented! – sometimes Satan throws them at me yet today…decades later! Forgive me, O God, for I am a sinner. I’m very much like the thief on the cross next to you calling for unmerited mercy. Extravagant love. Holy compassion. These are my need. I have no merit or worth that I can bring to you. I rely solely on you.
I am deeply thankful for your redemption. For your perfect righteousness is seen here, on the cross, in the agony of hell, and you speak with such deep yearning that Mark records your words in your native tongue: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”, and then translates it for us. Quoting Psalm 22, you cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Your agony must have been excruciating. Your suffering beyond all measure.
Yet you call God your God. This is not, “O God!” This is not, “God of mercy.” You cry out, “My God!” I am stunned when I read these words and ponder their meaning. In the face of being abandoned by God – your God – you do not abandon him. This is unheard of. This is like no other. A perfect faith in the crucible of piercing pain and fierce suffering. So completely unlike my faith of convenience, or even my occasionally-courageous faith. In your moment of truth, faith, love, righteousness, justice, mercy, grace, forgiveness and truth come together. You still look to your God when he has turned his back on you.
I have no such perfect faith. But I thank you Jesus for your alien righteousness that I embrace by your Holy Spirit’s power. I praise you for your perfect love, forgiveness, and salvation. When the moment of truth came you held true. You stayed faithful. So now, I plead your perfect righteousness before your Father’s throne, and rejoice even as I remember now your suffering and death.
Today is Good Friday. Some will go about their business as usual. Some will pause and consider your death. Some will gather for worship. Some businesses will even close their doors from noon till 3 – in honor of the hours of darkness when Jesus hung on the cross. For this moment I will sit and ponder Jesus’ perfect faith, love, and redemption. I will pray for a more perfect faith that flows from your riven side.